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Phat vs Food: Oritsu Ramen

Maui Mall is not necessarily a place you go for quality cuisine. You go for the convenience of location. There are times when visiting a venue such as this you can be pleasantly surprised how good and how much care goes into a family owned food establishment. This is NOT one of those times.

Oritsu Ramen is an overhaul of the Maui Mixed Plate location in the Maui Mall; same owners and sadly same poorly prepared food. Walking into Oritsu you first notice the Asian bric-a-brac strewn about the restaurant. No real emphasis on the food culture they are serving. Is it Japanese, Chinese, is it both?

My “Phat vs Food” partner and I have a seat and were greeted by a waitress who seemed as if she was at the end of her shift and couldn’t wait to get out of there. Suffice to say we were given the least amount of service as possible in a minimally filled area. We start to peruse the menu and the emphasis was on ramen. Several different ways of preparation were for the choosing. You could even choose the soup base which was unique. The soup base selections were a soy sauce based version and a spicy sesame based version and third I can’t recall because that one we did not order.

We placed our order and on the menu for us that evening were several dishes: two types of ramen: char-siu and short rib, pork fried rice, crispy gau gee, gyoza, shrimp tempura, a side of curry, and mochiko chicken. We did not wait long for our food to arrive. As it hit the table we figured out why. Every item brought to our table was lukewarm or flat out cold. Ramen lukewarm is not the way to enjoy it. Both the soup bases were not special. The soy sauce based broth tasted like a traditional ramen broth you get from a Cup-A-Noodle and the spicy sesame actually had a vague flavor of dishwater. The noodles were toothsome, but cold as well. The short ribs that accompanied the ramen was tough and greasy. The char-siu that accompanied the other ramen wasn’t even char-siu, but roast pork. Things were not looking or tasting good so far and it just got worse.

Is that Char Siu or Roast Pork?
Is that Char Siu or Roast Pork?

Moving along to our other sides we had ordered. Up to the “plate” first was the mochiko chicken. Once again looks were deceived and the chicken was just plain cold and tasted as if it were from lunch service. No flavor pop just something prepared days ago, stored then served. The gyoza was served extremely greasy and the filling was a tasteless beef and what looked like green onion combination. This filling was also used for the crispy gau gee. The gau gee was better and less greasy, but that’s only because the accompanying sauce, which tasted like it came from a pre-existing store bought brand was decent in taste. Lastly, the shrimp tempura was less tempura and more battered fried shrimp. The consistency of the batter resembled in look and in taste more like what you’d get on a corn dog, not even close to the light and airy batter that’s tempura and once again cold.

The last two items on this disappointing food odyssey were the pork fried rice and the side of curry. My partner actually liked the fried rice, but only when topped with the side of curry that was ordered. He is certain that the curry we were served is his favorite store bought curry because he eats it often. I did not enjoy the fried rice at all because it was once again cold, oily, and tasted as if it was prepared days ago and had once been something edible. As you can surmise this was an uneventful food venture.

Nothing was good. No bright spots just utter disappointment.

When you overhaul your restaurant concept and latch onto an existing concept that’s semi successful don’t keep the food that was part of your old restaurant’s menu to build upon. To add insult to injury the entire menu was overpriced. $12 for a bowl of ramen is just ridiculous no matter how you look at it. I’d feel better about the price if it was served hot and had flavor, but only a little better. $12 for an unappetizing bowl of noodles and soup with no flavor is an insult and eating it may not have physically injured me, but my soul felt as if it took a cheap gut punch.

GauGee or Fried Gyoza
GauGee or Fried Gyoza?

The issue we both had with Oritsu and had a hard time getting passed was mainly as stated above, the misrepresentations of the food items. Char-siu equated to roast pork, shrimp tempura was fried shrimp (not the proper tempura batter), and the crispy gau gee was no more than deep fried gyoza in disguise. In other words, they believe their customers are naive and we have no idea what food we are being served. It’s the highest form of narcissism because they think they know better than we and this is one of the reasons why many restaurants fail.

Oritsu Ramen suffers from what most sub par restaurants suffer from especially in a small town setting, mediocrity. When there is no need to be good, why try? This is why when competition truly exists and rival eatries care about their product the customer always wins out in the end and the sub par eatries slowly fade away. In the case of visiting Oritsu Ramen as a family dinner night out, I suggest throwing up a caution flag and search for an alternative as it would be cheaper and tastier to purchase Cup-A-Noodle and store bought marinated teriyaki beef and enjoy the family time in the comfortable setting of home sweet home. Oritsu Ramen likes it’s food left me cold.

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About The Big Phat Nation

AZD & G Money have over 15 years’ experience in the media. They grew to notoriety with the #1 rated morning radio program on Maui, “The Big Phat Morning Show”, where this ‘dynamic duo’ weren't afraid to ask the tough questions facing Maui and advance a conversation. They now can be heard on the MAUIWatch Radio Network raising the bar for media excellence with their new show, “The Big Phat Nation”.

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