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Which are your fave spots in the Porter Sq. Exchange building?

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I get the occasional craving for the miso moyashi at Sapporo Ramen spot. I think along with the phos in various Vietnamese restaurants, it's up there as the most satisfying cold weather noodle soups around.
But i digress, do you have favourites of other items that are served in that food court?

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  1. Some things I enjoy include the hamburg sets at Cafe Mami, the hijiki and tofu bowls at Tampopo, any pastry at Japonaise, some of the bubble teas at Tapicha (actually preferring the ones with coconut jelly instead of tapioca bubbles most recently), and both the fried brown rice and tofu bibimbap at ChoCho's. But I like most everything there except the fare dished up at the Kotobukiya sushi bar.

    1. cafe mami - hamburg set, curry rice, tonkatsu, green tea milkshake
      tampopo - croquettes, kara age
      ittyo - donburi, cold noodle soup
      japonaise bakery - red bean donut, melon pan, cream bread, various other pastries

      not a fan of the ramen at sapporo but like the dumpling set. the (overpriced) ice cream at the small store is okay. good japanese snacks at the large store

      2 Replies
      1. re: galangatron

        yes, i would agree that Ken's at Super 88 food court has better quality ramen noodles but Sapporo seems to be better value for your money - i find the broth quite close in terms of taste - but Sapporo's portion is much more generous.

        1. re: galangatron

          For the Japonaise list. Add their chicken cutlet sandwich. Crunchy panko breading, lightly pan-fried and served in a fresh egg roll.

          They are fresher and better in their Beacon St. store, but even in the Porter Xchange outlet, they are not bad.

        2. I like virtually the whole menu at Cafe Mami. After slowly sampling nearly everything over a number of years, I've actually fallen back to two of the basic donburi bowls: the oyako and the plain old chicken teriyaki.

          I don't perceive Cho Cho's to be setting the world on fire with its authenticity, but when I lived in Porter, it was one of my favorite take-out options for a healthy, nutritious dinner. Any of their combo sets are great value, and I like their bibimbap, made extra-super-duper-authentic by subbing in brown rice.

          1. Sapporo Ramen is just ok, though they do have humongous portions if that's important to you. I find their noodles to be chalky. The donburi at Ittyo and Cafe Mami are pretty good as are some of the tempura at Tampopo, but I haven't eaten there recently. Kotobukiya does chirashi for me in a pinch. It's $10, has a healthy amount of fish on it, and doesn't kill me. Not bad. I really like the set meals at Blue Fin as well. Tapicha can be skipped - better bubble tea to be found in Harvard.

            1 Reply
            1. re: gini

              Recently had katsu at both Ittyo and Tompapo and want to report that the katsudon at Ittyo was awfully soggy - more of an egg/mushroom/pork omelet than anything. Nice sauce though. Tampopo's fry job was wonderful, though the cut of pork was a bit chewy. Also sampled the beef teriyaki donburi at Ittyo which was sort of bad, but the rice and seaweed salads were nice. What should I have eaten at Ittyo?

            2. People rag on the sushi at the Kotobuyaki (sp?) sushi bar there but I went in for a bite over the holidays and I think it's a fine place if you're in the hood. It's not beautifully plated, it's not upscale or interesting, and the service can be surly but I had a great lunch of salmon, mackerel and eel nigiri, a spicy tuna roll with tempura flakes (so good) with miso soup to start and a bowl of (yes microwaved but fine) edamame. With tea, lunch for the two of us was $14 before tip. We weren't stuffed but it was sufficient and tasty.

              On the day I was there, the line at Cafe Mami was out the door. Everyone was ordering the hamburg set.

              2 Replies
              1. re: yumyum

                I, too, was a fan of the "crispy spicy tuna roll," though I eventually found bluefin's to be fresher.

                1. re: yumyum

                  definitely sufficient and tasty at a very decent price. And what's better than a sushi bar?

                2. I agree with the previous post the sushi place is my second fav to sacorabana in the financial district. they prices are great and the fish is fresh and good. the sushi spot is were its at. i cant remember the name of the restaurant but the place at the corner near the restrooms is really good and i suggest getting the una don or unagi don.

                  4 Replies
                  1. re: sekbowmeyaa

                    I'm one of those who does not have kind things to say about the Kotobukiya sushi place. Every time I've been, the sushi has been decidedly NOT fresh and good, with a distinctly noticeable fishy aroma and taste and a somewhat slimy texture. For me, those are non-negotiable qualities.

                    I can happily live with dull plating and standard sushi cuts (especially if the price is right), but not this level of non-fresh -- as a result, I simply cannot recommend the place.

                    Will definitely second Sakurabana in the Financial District as a most worthy option, though my favorite remains Oishii in Chestnut Hill for general everyday sushi. And except for Ittyo and the Kotobukiya sushi spot, I'm happy to second the other Porter Exchange food places.

                    1. re: bachslunch

                      To be clear, it's not the best sushi in town. Not even the best "middle of the road non-exciting" sushi in town. But I've never experienced the non-freshness that you have. And for a quick sushi fix in the hood, I'll probably find myself bellied up to the bar there again. Rest assured the minute I experience unfresh fish, I'll post my experience and fall on my sword.

                      1. re: yumyum

                        I promised I'd fall on my sword if I ever experienced bad sushi at the Porter Square Kotobukiya sushi counter. Well, I didn't have bad fish, it's just that I had such SUPERIOR sushi at Blue Fin yesterday that I am not sure I can go to the counter again. The fatty tuna and scallop and sweet shrimp were all specials and all superb. The broiled sablefish set was delicious. True, it was at least twice the price of the surly service counter but for the superior fish and sweet ervice, I think it's worth it.

                        1. re: yumyum

                          I had some great fatty tuna at Bluefin also.

                  2. my fave is cafe mami:
                    teriyaki hamburger set (hamburger meat, teriyaki sauce, on rice, miso soup side)
                    and
                    boneless fried chicken (with mayo+siracha sauce)

                    also japonaise

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: kweesee

                      My faves:
                      cafe mami for tokyo hamburg set, chicken katsu curry, or any of the sizzling dishes.
                      tampopo for age dashi tofu, any tempura, the tofu donburri dishes, croquette curry, and the truly wonderful salad dressing -- I wish he would sell me some in a bottle.

                      1. re: triple creme

                        A new dish at Tampopo, Buddhist Delight Curry, is really good. The cooked veggies, especially carrots, are intensely flavorful, and that is one damn fine curry sauce.

                    2. I like Ittyo best (though Cafe Mami is good as well). I like the oyako-don, teriyaki chicken, and donburi with tofu and beancurd (fried and fresh). Their katsu is okay, but not really my favorite.

                      1. Green tea bubble tea on a hot day for refreshment at Tapicha
                        Although I'm not a vegetarian, LOVE the vegetarian combination box at Kotobukiya: inari,cucumber roll and I think oshinko rolls- I combine with a seaweed salad and voila! Dinner!
                        I 've had the katsudon at Bluefin and found it to be tasty...simple breaded pork cutlet, tasty flavouring, not too soggy!

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: deshuitres

                          What are the top options for vegetarians? I've been frequenting Sapporo ramen and love their noodle soup (I can give or take sushi.. it just isn't enough of a meal for me..) so any other suggestions would be greatly appreciated!

                        2. Bluefin is quite good-- their sushi is excellent and surprisingly inexpensive, and they also have lots of tasty salads and other dishes. But there's often a line to get in..

                          1. Live right down the street. The wasbi pork "shumai" at tampopo are awe inspiring. I agree with most of the posts here about blue fin. Any of their specials, from blue fin and o toro to a fresh wasabi roll are great. I dont really count blue fin as part of the food court.

                            1. Cafe Mami! It's been fantastic for years, and we think some of the cooks have been there for ages. They always look familiar, in any case. The gyu-don is yummy, we know someone who adores the Japanese curry, and the lunch specials are fabulous in general.

                              1. Ok, I've been dying to know this for ages: does anyone know how it came to be that the Porter Exchange became home to this collection of Japanese cuisine? Was it by design? Or coincidence? Anyone know the history?

                                3 Replies
                                1. re: litchick

                                  Read this:

                                  http://www.thecrimson.com/article.asp...

                                  1. re: sfumato

                                    hey thanks sfumato!

                                    1. re: litchick

                                      My pleasure! :)