Neighborhood. Ramen. Garlic.
Why didn't I ever stop in at Agu Ramen Bistro over these past 4+ years? I pass by Isenberg Street almost daily. This is my childhood neighborhood. Bowl-O-Drome with the 8-pound balls for us tiny Summer Fun kids. Long gone. Chunky's Drive In, sitting on what Mrs. Thelma Odo once told us was a natural spring from the ancient days. Also long gone, now replaced by First Hawaiian Bank.
When Agu sprouted up, my first reaction was "ramen bistro?" This is not a fancy neighborhood. Ramen is ramen to me. Can't really fancy it up. So I passed. I never thought to go, or even peruse the menu online. Probably too expensive.
But over the weekend, I finally caved in. The wait, 15 minutes outside, was fine with me. I had to try this version of Kotteri Ramen: black garlic oil-infused. Especially since Tenkaippin (in Kapahulu) stopped serving their Kotteri recently. (I'd been warned that it was not only off menu, but about to disappear from the kitchen. Then I went one more time and was told it's completely goners. I'm the guy who sat down, got the bad news, and walked out forever. Sometimes the best way to deal with death is to leave it behind immediately.)
Agu is busy. Always busy. But the fact that it stays open until midnight was a huge plus for a late-night worker like me. So 15 minutes, no problem. I sat and enjoyed the sounds of the kitchen. The Kotteri arrives. It is even more beautiful in person. I spoon out the broth. So tenderly loved. Who goes this deep with so much labor and detail? The mushrooms. The menma. The everything. I savored that $14 bowl. I slowly devoured. It was worth every cent.
It's no sub-$6 meal. That's OK. After a busy week, a little bit of sniffles, and a good deal of hunger pangs, the Kotteri hit the spot. I almost got a second bowl. The first was just right, though. Not too small or too big. Simply a combustible, yet calming musical theater in my mouth and belly. Garlic is so good. It is my favorite food group.
I'm going back. It won't take another 4 years. Truth.
#ramen #kotteri #garlic