Ramen Ezogiku – Honolulu, HI


Ramen Ezogiku
2420 Koa Avenue
Honolulu, HI
Tel: (808) 922-2473‎

I admit, curiosity got to me when I saw the distinctive logo hanging from the banner outside this front entrance.  For our readers familiar with Vancouver, yes, this is the same chain that operates the two outlets in the Canadian city, both on Robson Street, going by the name of  Ezogiku Noodle Cafe.

Some more background…  The Tokyo honten (main branch) of Ezogiku is a tiny ten-person counter joint, located in the college-saturated station area of Takadanobaba, and competes with many ramen-ya and inexpensive eateries for the tight student wallet.  Offering a Sapporo-style miso ramen, Ezogiku has been around for over thirty-years and claims to be one of the first to bring true Sapporo miso ramen to the Kanto region.  Forgive me, but my first and only bowl there was way back in 1997, but I can faintly recall that it was pretty decent, a mid-thickness crinkly noodle and a miso soup that was on the heavier side on the fat meter.

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Sun Sui Wah Seafood Restaurant – Richmond, BC


Sun Sui Wah Seafood Restaurant
#102, 4940 No. 3 Road
Richmond, BC
(604) 876 1638

Sun Sui Wah (Richmond) on Urbanspoon

Go to where you know.

In this case, it could apply to one’s stable consideration set of restaurants when heading out to have a meal. It may be formed by factors such as proximity convenience, local knowledge of the geographic area, familiarity with the chef/cook/menu, or just simply knowing that you or your dining companions have had satisfying eating experiences there in the past. With this latter point, just how far back should one go back in time? One month? A year? Perhaps more?

I recently had a reunion with an old college friend. With the convenience of email, we’d managed to keep in touch off and on, and I had a general sense of his whereabouts and his mine. Given my often crazy global travel schedule, and his much more family-centered sedentary lifestyle, it seemed we could never meet in person over the past ten years. When we found out that we’d both be on the west coast at the same time (as he was coming up from the States for a holiday), it was easy to arrange a date to meet. But where?

During his youth, he had told me he had spent some years in Richmond, BC. It also seemed to be convenient for my friend given his planned accommodations in the nearby area, but with my limited knowledge of the restaurant scene there and no friends who could guide me (especially of the Cantonese speaking/reading variety), I was hesitant to name a place (and was subconsciously thinking of not selecting any place I’d previously reviewed on Foodosophy.

So in asking my friend if he knew any place or recalled one from his past, the first one that came out of his mouth was Sun Sui Wah. Not a big surprise I thought in my head, as its been around for a long time and has a strong name awareness among anyone who’s been to Vancouver (refer to Foodosopher’s earlier post on the Dim Sum offering at their Main St. location). I agreed, given I knew where it was, and he was comfortable in getting there again after spending the earlier part of the day in downtown Vancouver with his family, and it would be easy for them to get back to their hotel after our dinner.

After meeting in the restaurant lobby, we were led inside and I was immediately struck by how busy the place was, and how we were fortunate to get a table without a reservation. I am not in a position to say this is always the case, but with a 6pm seating, there was an ample crowd already dining. Most of the parties were larger groups of six or more, which looked like large extended Asian family gatherings as several generations were represented at virtually every table. While going through the menu at our table, I noticed several servers bringing out big baskets of fresh fish and Alaskan King Crab which were then shown to diners before being carted away back to the kitchen for preparation. How much bait and switch is going on, is unknown to me. But whenever I see this practice, I can’t help but think of used car salesmen and back alley electronics dealers.

With a pair of children under ten years of age at our table, I left it to the family to order knowing how fickle some children can be. To my surprise, the little one of three years of age, is a big seafood fan, especially scallops, which we had in a stir-fry with broccoli. Big plump scallops and the accompanying vegetables were just as large, and a vibrant green color. Perhaps a touch on the oily side (as can be seen from the shiny appearance from the image) though. I always try to match a dish like this with some kind of starch that can aid in covering up the oily feeling in your mouth by just eating something like this on its own, or with cups of hot tea.

The idea of trying some of their popular roasted squab came up, but in the end we declined. In its place, we chose the Peking Duck (two ways) with the first course of just the skin served with Chinese pancakes, sliver thin spring onions and a thick sweet Hoisin sauce. The skin had that nice filmy and crispy crunch texture and given that I haven’t had it in a long time, I found that I still liked it – but I don’t necessarily crave it on a regular basis.

The second course of the duck meat was served with lettuce leaves and was probably my favorite dish on this evening. Not overly seasoned and just the true flavors of the duck meat came through. Again, my liking this dish was no doubt due in part to the fact that its been so long since I’ve last had it. But I am sure there are other places that readers will say is better, and would love to hear from you for the next time I have the craving for Peking duck two-ways in the GVA.

The other dishes we had, a chicken and red/green pepper stir-fry and a basic fried rice were both quite pedestrian, but also kid friendly. I was really disappointed in the fried rice, as it was so bland and seemed overdone (eg. too many brittle/broken kernels of rice).

The decision to dine at Sun Sui Wah was based mainly on ease of access and familiarity. I asked my friend if his thoughts of this place had changed after many years away and he said it was quite as he remembered it. I didn’t want to press him further with my rather ordinary impressions of our meal, aside from the feeling I had on the duck after a long break in time since last eating it, and with that we parted ways. If I were asked to go again with other friends, I would probably try to convince them to check out other places along the same No. 3 road.

In other words, go where I don’t know.

Sun Sui Wah (Richmond) on Urbanspoon

Oriental Restaurant and Bar – Sai Wan Village, HK


Oriental Restaurant & Bar
Sai Wan Village
New Territories, Hong Kong

[A return to the other side of the ocean with this post, as I try and catch up on my recent travels. Please enjoy them as Vancouver-specific posts will be rotated in, along with Foodosopher’s regular contributions from Alberta]

Venturing into the remote parts of the New Territories courtesy of a four hour long hike along a segment of the MacLehose Trail was a welcome reprieve from the urban madness and concrete jungle that travelers usually associate with Hong Kong. The entire trail measures over 100 kilometers long, and stretches over mountain peaks and valleys across lush forests that truly takes you away from the hustle and bustle of Hong Kong Island and Kowloon. Well into my journey, I came to a small little village called Sai Wan, that appeared as an oasis after long stretches of not seeing any signs of local civilization.

Having exhausted my water supply, I was dying for some liquid replenishment, but as I stepped inside the entrance of the Oriental Restaurant & Bar to buy a bottle of water, I realized that I was also quite hungry. Luckily my two other hiking pals were also in need of some food and we decided to take an extended break on the patio of this establishment, as the sun began to make its way into the late afternoon sky.

To our surprise, we soon saw a bunch of other customers sitting at the tables in the back of the building that faced the Pacific Ocean. Even more unexpected was the fact that all of them looked very refreshed and not drenched in sweat from having hiked the paths that our group had (we later learned that there was a bus stop just ten minutes away that these people had probably used to access this little village). Even in the midst of such splendid nature, these Hong Kongers were taking the easy route – those darn spoiled city folk!

Perhaps some readers would concur, but after some extended, strenuous physical activity, your cravings for food changes. For some, it makes you want to consume more having burned so many calories. Other times, coupled with dehydration, it makes you crave salty things. Both of these sensations had hit me as I sat down on the cheap plastic chair at our table and scanned the menu booklet.

As I closed my eyes to give myself a moment to calm down, I knew I could eat just about anything. But at the same time I was aware that I couldn’t expect too much from a place like this, that was literally in the middle of nowhere, so I opted for a safe bet – the Special Fried Rice. Again, I am not sure if it was my physical state at the time, but this was a delicious plate of fried rice which included simple ingredients such as green peas, onions, egg, etc. Nothing “special” about it per say, but for a hungry hiker, it really hit the spot! For me when it comes to fried rice, its the rice that is vital. Can’t be too mushy and each rice kerenel must have that little bit of a crisp exterior.

And the view didn’t hurt either!

Further adding to my sudden relaxed state was seeing one of the waiters carry out some cold bottles of beer to a small boat that was sitting in the shallow water and wishing I could be on that watercraft.  Talk about paradise!  But I knew my hike was not yet finished so indulging in that desire would have caused my friends to leave me for dead on the intense trail back to the nearest town site.

I love coming across these expectation-exceeding little spots on my travels. They don’t always have to be in these beautiful natural surroundings, a hole-in-the-way food counter in a side street in the city will do just as well. Great food, interesting scenery, amusing service staff, etc. they could all help make these kinds of experiences a long lasting memory. I hope to have the opportunity to continue to explore and find these places that stand out for me and I can fondly look back on many years later. Oriental Restaurant & Bar will certainly be one of them. Happy trails!