Best of Kapolei: Agu Ramen’s Broth

Unless you’ve got an 80-gallon kettle, some pig heads, and 22 hours to kill, you’re not gonna be able to make broth like Agu Ramen in Kapolei Marketplace does.

What: AGU Ramen

Where: Kapolei Marketplace

When: Open daily at 11am

Why: Award-winning ramen that’s gone international

Their pork-based tonkatsu broth is thick, hearty, glistening, and has deep, rich flavor. You could pour this broth over a Locals slipper and it would still taste pretty good.

Wisely, that option is not on the menu. Instead, every Agu Ramen bowl comes with a slice of char siu pork, a soft-boiled egg, and special noodles manufactured just for them at Honolulu’s Sun Noodles.

Their Specialty: The Hot Mess

They also serve an extra-rich tonkatsu broth — kotteri tonkatsu. This broth is the base for their signature dish, the Hot Mess Kotteri. It comes with the kotteri tonkatsu broth, the standard inclusions of char siu pork and a soft-boiled egg, plus black garlic oil, garlic butter, and garlic chips — and Agu Ramen founder Hisashi Uehara’s unique touch — grated Parmesan cheese.

Agu Ramen has won Honolulu Magazine’s Hale ‘Aina award for best local restaurants multiple times. The restaurant is one of the Oʻahu’s biggest success stories of the past decade.

Founder Hisashi Uehara, who grew up in Okinawa and moved to Honolulu when he was 14, started Agu as a small shop in Mōʻiliʻili. Now there are 6 Agu Ramens on Oahu, plus 3 in Texas, and, as of last November, one in Seoul, South Korea.

They now make all of their broth at one central location, the AGU Magic Kitchen in Kalihi. Their pork broth is made with heads, femurs, and feet. Here’s founder Uehara and some of the broth wizards on their work.

Other Broths: Vegan Broth and Chicken Broth

Two other broths are available — a vegan broth, and a chicken-based broth. The chicken-based broth (pictured above) is made with Jidori chicken, a free-range poultry raised in California. It’s a quick broth (it only takes nine hours to make.)

The Jidori broth was off the Kapolei menu for a while, but it’s back. Feeling like I wanted a lighter meal, I tried the Jirori Yuzu, which is infused with Yuzu pepper. It had a slightly spicy but more of a citrus-y flavor that hit the spot…

agu ramen pau Agu ramen pau

… as you can see.

Agu Ramen Has Excellent Service

Agu Ramen serves a Japanese dish, and accompany it with Japanese attention to detail when it comes to service.

When I arrive and it’s not busy, the waiter greets me right away, and welcomes me to sit wherever I choose. When I pick a small two-top, he says: “Go ahead, pick a bigger table. Spread out a little.” I do and an am much happier for it.

I have gone on busier days, too. The wait staff kept us updated, helped us with our order, made sure we were happy.

I always get the feeling at Agu Ramen that the waitstaff takes personal pride in the quality of your experience — a very Japanese trait.