Star Noodle

A little hung over from the wedding, a bowl of hot ramen soup sounded like the perfect cure.

Friends of the bride and groom told us about Star Noodle the night before, so I knew this was the perfect opportunity to try it.

As soon as I saw the nameplate at the door, I could see that this restaurant appreciated design.

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And that they did.

From the interior decoration to the simple one page menu and its food presentation, the owner of Star Noodle had a clear, modern and hip vision.

Now let’s see if the food is as good as this place looks.

We started off with the Star Kim Chee, a pickled mixture of won bok cabbage, ginger and garlic. I was pleasantly surprised that it wasn’t over powering with spice and garlic, like most bright red kim chee’s I’ve had. The cabbage also still had a bite to it, as though it wasn’t pickled for a week or more.

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Recommended by our new friends, both Jason and I ordered the Hapa Ramen.

The colorful bowl was filled with roast pork, a poached egg, bamboo shoots, kamaboko (fish cake), baby bok choy, mayu (black garlic oil), spicy aka miso and pork broth.

It was my first time trying black garlic oil (I think), a blend of sesame, sesame oil and garlic. When I swirled the oil and broth together, the soup base quickly became extra flavorful, but a tad too oily.

There was too much of the roast pork and it didn’t help that the meat was dry. The noodles were mediocre, slightly overcooked to my liking. Basically, I’ve had way better ramen and I didn’t like it, but this sufficed in helping a hang over. I AM in Hawaii, so I shouldn’t expect excellent ramen.

Next recommendation was the steamed pork buns. I mistakenly thought it was one per order (again, not looking at the price) and asked for two orders. In reality, it came with three (!) buns, accompanied by a steamer (details in the design, my friends). Needing to eat all six, they better be good!

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These buns reminded me of a food truck back home, Chairman Bao, that creates something very similar. The soft and doughy white bun sandwiched pork, hoisin (Chinese seafood sauce), scallions, shiitake mushrooms and cucumber.

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There were a handful of small plastic squeeze bottles filled with different condiments like chili paste and mustard. I liked adding a little bit of mustard to my buns; it gave it an extra kick.

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The pork was way better than the one in the ramen, considering it was fatty enough to keep its moisture. The taste was decent, sweetness from the hoisin, saltiness of the pork and some crunch from the cucumbers. 

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We ended up taking the remaining half order to-go, which became a perfect snack on the beach later in the day. Luckily, over ordering turned into a good idea.

I was going to get a dessert (their mango pudding sounded good), but after a very mediocre meal, I didn’t want to waste my money on another mediocre dish.

If we’re talking about design, Star Noodle obviously wins in that department in my book. But when it came down to food, nothing blew my mind. Living in the Bay Area and being surrounded by delicious food makes me a hard critic, especially when I’ve had so many ramen bowls.

But I give Star Noodle an A for effort. If you’re in the mood for Asian food in Maui, your options are very slim, so Star Noodle is a nice choice.

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