There's something that always makes food taste better, like my mom cooking her special dish for me when I haven't been home in a long while, a celebratory meal with an old friend, eating anything outside on a nice day, or finding some special food when far from home. This may explain why I like the ramen at Yotteko-Ya so much. I was in Hawaii, so the sun was shining, it was warm and everyone was relaxed and smiling. By no means am I an expert or even well versed in the way of ramen, but Yotteko-Ya's is better than any I've ever tasted.
YY is the Honolulu shop of a Japanese chain serving Kyoto ramen. I've had several of their soups and thus far my favorite is the Paitan Ramen ordered spicy with Japanese style noodles. The paitan soup is pork based with a deep, yet complex pork flavor with a hint of sea flavor. Almost as if the broth is salted with dried seaweed or mixed with their seafood broth. The menu claims that it has been cooked for ten hours with ten different vegetables and ten spices. Like tonkotsu soup, it's white and creamy in appearance. Though, the flavor does not taste creamy in the traditional dairy sense -- it is thick, smooth and soft. Spicy adds some hot pepper flavor, a nice kick to balance the creaminess and works well with the slightly salty soup. At this branch, the noodles can be served local style or Japanese style. Local (to Hawaii) is a softer noodle, while Japanese style is firmer and chewier. One of my few food dislikes is soft mushy noodles, so Japanese style is the way to go for me. The noodles are firm and taste fresh -- perhaps 'rocketed from Kyoto' as the sign says? I've sung the praises of the cha-siu before, it's still thick, tender, full of caramelized soy flavor and has a nice bit of fat to round it out.
The Kakuni Ramen is a clearer broth that is equally strong and porky and better than most of the ramen I can get around SF. Both J and I would order kakuni style again, but agreed that we preferred the thicker creamy consistency and the slight miso taste of the Paitan.
Whenever getting the set menu, remember to get the cha-han and fried chicken.
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