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Guchi's Midnight Ramen

Has anyone had the opportunity to try Guchi's Midnight Ramen?

It's a ramen pop-up that was at Sportello last night / this morning, and was at Bondir recently.

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  1. No, but I've been interested as well. They are on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/pages/Guchis-... and Twitter at https://twitter.com/#!/guchiramennight but it seems it's another one of those Boston events where if you don't get tickets in the first minute, you're out of luck (Bacon and Beer Festival, I'm looking at YOU). This makes me sad for me, but I am glad for these vendors and for the overall Boston food scene that there's this much interest in specialty food events!

    1 Reply
    1. re: Chris VR

      Yea, I balked at the tickets and then realized that I'd probably rather buy tickets and know I have a spot than have to wait in line close to midnight, in the cold, to *hopefully* score a seat. I saw that the tickets were $25 plus $2.36 fee.

      However, I hope they get a permanent place to do this. Ramen in Boston is lacking. If you search, there are some reviews out there, but this was from a more private tasting, and hence could be biased. I look forward to hearing the reviews from this past 'pop-up'.

    2. Both seatings of the Guchi's at Sportello event sold out in about 30 seconds, not even a minute. Talk about a tough table! I expect some of those tickets to show up on the "secondary market" at inflated prices. Meanwhile, Uni's late-night ramen will be happening every Friday and Saturday from 11pm to 1pm, so those seats should be less tough to score.

      http://mcslimjb.blogspot.com/

      2 Replies
      1. re: MC Slim JB

        Yes, I saw the sold-out page a tidy 33 seconds after seeing the GMR link posted on Facebook. My poor F5 key overworked for naught.

        Thanks for the tip on the Uni ramen. I had missed that. I did a search and found some appetizing ramen photos online; the David Chang-esque pork bun looks excellent, too.

        1. re: Area Man

          i've had the Clio pork belly bun twice, the first time was excellent, the second time the pork was a bit dry. I would probably be willing to try it again, hopefully the second time was a fluke.

      2. This whole thing is ridiculous. Are they going to open a legitimate noodle shop or not? Don't string me along with months of twitter posts about "perfecting our broth" and "getting the best noodle recipe" and then use it to promote some once a week "foodie event" status symbol prix fixe menu that includes steamed buns and whatever. Just make a single good bowl of ramen that regular people can enjoy...

        10 Replies
          1. re: Luther

            Yes, and once a week is being generous. Until I hear a first hand-account from a chowhound who has purchased a ticket, had their mouth scalded by the perfect broth, bitten into the world's greatest noodle, and rubbed elbows with the city's newest favorite chef while doing so, I will not believe that this hype-machine even exists in real life.

            I can get a good-enough ramen for less than half the price at Sapporo, wait in line for only a couple minutes, and enjoy my food without being surrounded by overzealous food bloggers. Or I can buy a 25 dollar round trip bus ticket to NYC and enjoy Ippudo anytime I like.

            1. re: hckybg

              This does get into the same vein as a $25 foie gras burgers with truffle shavings - sometimes its fun to fancy things up, but don't get too far from the source.

              Ramen at Ippudo is $14. Across the river at Mitsuwa, its a few dollars cheaper in the food court and still pretty tasty. I walk out of Sapporo in Porter for $10 with a happy belly. Ramen is tasty, but its not the next incarnation of bouillabaisse.

              I want a place where I can slurp a good but reasonably priced bowl of ramen, perhaps at a table by myself or sharing it with another single, at lunchtime. If Guchi's is going to be a 2-seating premium price midnight treat for a 100 or so people every two weeks, its going to lose appeal quickly without something more.

              1. re: grant.cook

                I've really enjoyed the shio ramen at the NJ Mitsuwa (the mini umeboshi garnish is a nice touch). I'm not asking for world-class ramen here, just something straightforward and comparable to that. And it should feel Japanese.

              2. re: hckybg

                Add me to the list of the outraged and amused. It is a interesting business model but competing online for a bowl of ramen like a Beatles reunion concert in Purgatory is just silly. My favorite bowl was in a simple shop in Kyoto, and I've never had it's equal outside of Japan.

                1. re: gourmaniac

                  If this is not yet a skit on Portlandia, it soon will be.

              3. re: Luther

                Here, here. And if it's really that good, a permanent spot would be as close to a guaranteed success as anything in this business. Boston clearly wants ramen. Give it to us.

                1. re: Luther

                  I certainly understand the frustration with the hype-machine, but I mostly find it amusing.

                  Ultimately, any ramen publicity is good for ramen lovers, though, right?

                  1. re: Area Man

                    Ramen might just be the new food truck. Many imitators will emerge, promising originality but they will eventually fade away.

                  2. re: Luther

                    I'm with you, Luther. I love good chow as well as the next hound, but I have too much going on in my life to sit baited breath by the computer and try and get tickets to a "noodle event". Open up a shop and be done with it, I say! I'd be interested to hear from other hounds that sampled their fare. World War Michael certainly enjoyed it, but since this is his first posting it's hard to gauge......

                  3. Incidentally, Myers + Chang is doing shrimp and tofu ramen noodles with green chives, scallion butter and fermented tofu broth as a lunch special this week.

                    http://mcslimjb.blogspot.com/

                    1. I was able to attend last night's event by virtue of furious page refreshing. Between the two seatings I'd have to guess about 30 total people were able to enjoy some ramen.

                      The meal started off with a pork bun, which I can only describe as amazing, every little element of it was so perfectly balanced and paired, everyone sitting at the community style tables were in euphoria.

                      Two kinds of ramen were served, one was a lighter saltier broth and the other was a darker soy based broth. Both were fantastic, the broths were complex and satisfying I really have nothing bad to say about it. Every diner happily slurped up the delicious noodles, meats, egg, and veggies in their bowl.

                      The meal wrapped up with a green tea chocolate chip cookie and a passion fruit caramel. The passion fruit caramel was the real stand out of this pair, I was glad I saved it till last.

                      I hope more people get a chance to enjoy Guchi's as it really is fantastic ramen and worth breaking your f5 key over trying to get tickets.

                      9 Replies
                      1. re: WorldWarMichael

                        Can you tell us about any other places you've had Ramen in Boston by way of comparison?

                        And also where else you've had pork buns? I am a big fan of Great Taste for Pork Buns.

                        1. re: StriperGuy

                          Where on the Great Taste menu are the pork buns, Striper? Is that a weekend dim sum thing only? Just a bakery item?

                          http://mcslimjb.blogspot.com/

                          1. re: MC Slim JB

                            They do an awesome HUGE steamed bun with pork, egg, and sausage, on the bakery side, but then on the weekend they do a nice char siu bao sit down only in the resto.

                          2. re: StriperGuy

                            There's a restaurant at H-Mart that makes wonderful pork buns. I can't recall the name but it's to the left of were Cho Cho's used to be (btw - they were bought out and have a new name but some dishes remain.)

                            1. re: robertlf

                              I'm confused now. what type of pork buns are we talking about here? crispy pork sandwiched in a steamed bun (traditionally used for peking duck), OR char-siu buns?

                              because I believe the former is what you'd find at Momofuku, East by Northeast, and GMR. the latter, you find in generic Chinese bakeries and dimsum (which also come as either baked or steamed).

                              maybe this is better discussed in its own thread ..

                          3. re: WorldWarMichael

                            I tried to get tickets and was about 10 seconds too late.

                            I am FURIOUS at the waste of my time and they are dead to me, will not recommend. They can sit on my shitlist with Ippudo.

                            1. re: WorldWarMichael

                              30 people total? At this point, why bother advertising or using online event signup..30 covers, that's the kind of thing word-of-mouth would fill. And less risk of just annoying an additional 270 people trying to get tickets.

                              Glad to hear it was tasty... can you compare to Sapporo Ramen or even the old Ken's Noodle?

                              1. re: grant.cook

                                All this hype for....30 people ?? Seriously? Sounds more like a chef who wanted their vanity stroked by creating a buzz. It's frigging ramen, not a table at Next.

                              2. re: WorldWarMichael

                                Congrats on getting tickets, WWM, and thanks for the report.

                                (Time to revisit my computer's warranty to see if F5 key replacement is covered)

                              3. You know this is all going to be read as sour grapes, right?

                                http://mcslimjb.blogspot.com/

                                3 Replies
                                1. re: MC Slim JB

                                  Are sour grapes the next food trend?

                                  1. re: MC Slim JB

                                    Somewhat.. but its more of a general feeling of disappointment that this might be more of a niche thing, a pet project that will amble along until something else interesting pops up, versus a serious effort at a restaurant that can add to the ramen options here in Boston.

                                    When I read about GMR in the Improper Bostonian, I believe, I was initially thinking "great.. a new restaurant, once it gets moving, eventually I'll have to give it a try." Now, looking at how its more a pop-up event, how it sold out in 38 seconds for 30 covers and the next option means spending a day refreshing my browser in two weeks or so, its not as tempting..

                                    Its like a parent dealing with his kid asking for a case of Pokemon cards in the hope that one might contain the Super Lighting Magic Dragon with Chromatic Spray, which you suspect has a .0004% of being in the case. You find a way to redirect the kid over to something else.

                                    1. re: MC Slim JB

                                      I hereby verify with my DIGITAL SIGNATURE that I never tried to get a ticket!

                                    2. And forget it entirely if you have a kid at home... Getting a babysitter to go to Uni at 11 is also out of the cards.
                                      I dream of Ippudo and would be first in line if a good ramen joint opened. Maybe the folks opening in the old Joe V's space are paying attention to the clamor for a great bowl of noodles?

                                      1. I went to Uni Saturday night for their late-night ramen. There were a few of us that showed up early (10:30) and had to wait around at the bar until they switched over service. I felt silly when we sat down to eat at 11:30 and half the tables were empty- unlike the Guchi sell-out fest, there was plenty of space. $8 for one pork bun was a total rip-off. The ramen was a miso broth, which is not my favorite but was well-made. I had pork shoulder and my wife had roasted eel- both were delicious, good texture on the noodles, very nicely poached egg. Maybe I'm spoiled by my trips to the Bay Area but to me it was a lot of hub-bub for a decent bowl of ramen.

                                        Now the cocktails at the new bar- THAT was worth waiting for. They are doing such a good job with the bar program there.

                                        1 Reply
                                        1. re: bobot

                                          Thanks for this dose of reality.

                                        2. Just retweeted by the Guchi's account: "To those complaining that Guchi's isn't doing enough seats/dinners, remember that this is in ADDITION to the chefs' intense, full-time jobs."

                                          Yeah. I'll just leave that one.

                                          20 Replies
                                          1. re: Luther

                                            That was the tweet of a food journalist, no less, which made it even more strange. Though food journalists (our own MC Slim JB a notable exception) aren't exactly known for their objectivity.

                                            1. re: Luther

                                              Oh, don't cry for me Argentina.

                                              Their twitter feed has like 1,200 followers.. so at 30 covers a seating every two weeks, that will take what? A year and a half for everyone to get a first taste?

                                              Its not a restaurant, or even a potential restaurant if the very talented chefs already have very demanding jobs - its a pet project. And don't put a pet project into the Improper Bostonian as something new to the scene.. maybe they should have bought a 30 second SuperBowl ad while they were at it - they would have sold out in 4.3 seconds.

                                              If they open a place with regular hours, great... otherwise, don't waste a few hundred people's time watching their browsers for a 30 second shot at getting some mythical ramen. They haven't earned that yet..

                                              Just my honest opinion, but they should hit Formaggio Kitchen up, so they can pick out a really nice cheese to go with that whine..

                                              1. re: grant.cook

                                                I agree grant.cook, CH deleted my post because this the lamest board on the interwebz, but I agree.

                                                My suggestion was have a stinkin raffle so they don't waste everyone's time.

                                                1. re: tatsu

                                                  Or choose places with good street traffic (unlike bondir) and just wave in the first 25 people who walk by.

                                                  1. re: viperlush

                                                    Or a video of you doing your best impersonation of the "Ramen Master" from Tampopo..

                                              2. re: Luther

                                                The Boston Magazine journalist / Tweeter rushing to Guchi's defense here is in the lucky position of having gotten (and accepted) a VIP invite to the first Guchi's event at Bondir. Must be nice, no?

                                                http://mcslimjb.blogspot.com/

                                                1. re: MC Slim JB

                                                  On her own Twitter feed she says she "got annoyed" at reading sour grapes here on CH. She just doesn't get it - hyping a 30 seat event in Improper Bostonian created demand way out of proportion to what they could accommodate. And like you said, she got a seat - probably comped - so she didn't have to go through the hassle and disappointment.

                                                  1. re: Msample

                                                    The entire first dinner (one of the two they have held) was for insiders. Food journalists, especially those invited to insider dinners, should not be defending restauranteurs--especially with respect to an issue concerning access.

                                                    1. re: hckybg

                                                      Foodie 1%'ers. ;)

                                                      Now where did I stow my "Oriental" flavor $.33 Maruchan ramen?

                                                      1. re: Bob Dobalina

                                                        hah! 1% indeed.

                                                        if anyone's curious, pictures from the event: http://www.tinyurbankitchen.com/2012/...

                                                        I'd still like to try it out for myself, though. I'm not the biggest fan of ramen, but am willing to try many many bowls to find one that'll make me a believer.

                                                        1. re: tammyh

                                                          I note in that the poster from that link did not have to pay for her meal...wonder if the writer McSlim refers to was comped as well? If so, her depicting the unwashed masses as whiners rings even more hollow.

                                                          1. re: Msample

                                                            oh I doubt many of the attendees (if any) paid that night ...

                                                            anyway. I think there will always be reason to complain about so-and-so's marketing, ticketing, PR statements, food ... etc.

                                                            me? I hate raffles! I always have the worst luck.

                                                            1. re: tammyh

                                                              At least with a raffle people don't have to camp out and hit the F5 button. And it would decrease the "sour grapes" effect.

                                                              Wonder if it would be realistic to say have a $1 raffle with proceeds going to a local food bank. "prize" is the ability to purchase a ticket. If people are willing to shell out $25 , I don't think $1 is a deal breaker. And that way the buzz could do some good at the same time.

                                                            2. re: Msample

                                                              The Boston Magazine writer was almost certainly comped, and if she wasn't, it was expensable.

                                                              http://mcslimjb.blogspot.com/

                                                              1. re: MC Slim JB

                                                                What perplexes me is why all this fuss over...ramen. Served at an odd hour. Yes, the chefs are quite talented and with a rich pedigree, but when all is said and done, well, it's only ramen.

                                                                1. re: Swankalicious

                                                                  Yeah I don't get it either. $25 ramen (w/bun & cookie) at an odd hour.

                                                                  I like the idea of a ramen food truck @ odd hours popping up at random locations in Boston/Cambridge. More like high end truck drunk food.

                                                                  1. re: viperlush

                                                                    Ramen is most decidedly not late night "drunk food." I've been lucky to have had wonderful versions in NYC, SF, and Japan for lunch, dinner, and yes, late night. Would y'all say the same thing about pho or assam laksa? Folks of all sorts, families even, eat these big bowls of noodles at all times of the day and night in Vietnam and Malaysia.

                                                                    I think what people object to is the irritating pop-up/elitist nature of Guchi's. I don't see why posters feel the need to disparage ramen.

                                                                    EDIT: I agree that ramen et al should not cost $25+. That's just crazy. Guess that's akin to the $18+ burger craze. But people still seem to enjoy them anyway.

                                                                    1. re: digga

                                                                      Not disparging ramen at all. They are the ones that are choosing to do late night pop ups, not lunch time or dinner time. I'm merely saying that a ramen (or really any noodle based dishe) food truck would be awesome drunk food. And yes I would still say that $25 is a lot for a bowl of pho.

                                                                      1. re: viperlush

                                                                        Just for clarification, my understanding is that the $25 was for three courses as WorldWarMichael states above: a starter, the ramen, and a desert. I believe I read elsewhere that it also included a beer.

                                                                        1. re: viperlush

                                                                          When I am tipsy, I don't want a big ceramic bowl full of superhot broth anywhere near me. There's a version of ramen now with the noodles and more of a sauce, perhaps that would work.

                                                  2. As I have inquiring posts deleted from this thread, I am obviously not in the know.

                                                    However, it seems to me that the exceptional 1st Edition of Lucky Peach Magazine -Ramen-Summer 2011, may have been the inspiration for this venture and not %100 original.

                                                    I could be completely wrong.

                                                    I think I would prefer to hit the recipes in Lucky Peach and try to conquor rather then feel a privledged guest that has jumped on an already popular bandwagon of ramen.

                                                    Signed Mizzsnarky

                                                    3 Replies
                                                    1. re: Bellachefa

                                                      Momofuku is the more likely motive force behind the mainstreaming of ramen, as well as a broader ramen movement in New York City that is in part longstanding and also likely fueled by Momofuku's popularity. Lucky Peach is largely transmitting the ramenization that David Chang started in his restaurants and now is putting into print. I like ramen very much, I'm happy to see this becoming a trend. Like most things, it didn't start in Boston but got here eventually. My complaint is not that Guchi's is trying to do ramen well. That's good news. My complaint is that at this point there seems to be all flash and not much substance. Food never tastes very good when it exists only as hopes and the fawning prose of comped bloggers.

                                                      1. re: hckybg

                                                        Thoroughly enjoyed your response.

                                                        1. re: hckybg

                                                          I think it's a combination of Momofuku's success (specifically Chang's recent cookbook) and a natural wanderlust of many Bostonian pho lovers (pho-ophiles?)

                                                      2. Bostonians are dying for good ramen: it's clearly a hole in the scene. I also think it's fair to say that GMR, however welcome their efforts to plug that hole, overhyped this event, and predictably, the local food media played along. I certainly contributed myself: http://thephoenix.com/boston/food/131...

                                                        But I think that had it been clear that only 20 or 40 tickets were actually available a few nights ago, many of GMR's 1200 followers would correctly have concluded that the probability of actually scoring a seat wasn't worth refreshing Twitter periodically for five hours from the time of their initial tease to the time tickets went on sale. We wouldn't have wasted the time, and thus ended up complaining about it here.

                                                        Yes, we bit too hard on the hype, but I think it was mostly for good, Chowish reasons: we care about this stuff, want to be thrilled and amazed, want to support extraordinary, quixotic efforts like this. We need to keep reminding folks like GMR that that's really the issue: we're behind them, want them to succeed, and also want them to scale. We get that popular places are hard to get into, but it helps to know if it's Toro hard, or French Laundry hard.

                                                        This tussle is a sideshow. Chowhounds and pop-up operators are really on the same team. There are lessons to be learned on both sides here.

                                                        http://mcslimjb.blogspot.com/

                                                        16 Replies
                                                        1. re: MC Slim JB

                                                          Do I want varied new food ventures (including a great ramen place) to open and succeed locally? -Absolutely!

                                                          Do I want a particular place / group that is focused more on the hype and has put out some communications that could be considered borderline condescending to succeed and possible set set a blueprint for others to follow? -Not so much

                                                          I want great food, service, atmosphere and value (if that is possible in this market) - period.

                                                          1. re: MC Slim JB

                                                            Your points are all well taken and I agree 100 percent. I'm certain these are hard-working folks with real talent, and that their ramen will be great. I'm glad they are doing this in Boston. My quibble was with the idea that our complaints were sour grapes. I didn't even try to get tickets, because after weeks of posts where you have to do this and that, have to post something to a certain hashtag for a chance, etc. etc. it started to seem silly. And all this for the chance to spend more than 50 dollars for two bowls of ramen. I'd be glad to be a loyal customer if they made this a permanent thing. If it's going to remain a sometimes thing, with lots of chefs and bloggers telling us how awesome their meal was but very few others having the chance, then I'll enjoy my ramen when I am in New York, or at Sapporo, or at Uni, or at the other places that will surely develop.

                                                            1. re: hckybg

                                                              Agreed. I hope this "food entrepreneur" they've partnered with is planning more than just pop-ups. I think the buzz has shown that Boston has a huge hole that people want filled and the people who can offer a good product in that genre will probably be very successful. If this is just a side project, maybe we can convince Ippudo to open a Boston branch - they would be unbelievably packed every night here.

                                                            2. re: MC Slim JB

                                                              Posted for the next pop-up - "Tickets on sale this Friday @ 1pm via Eventbrite. Two nights @ No. 9 Park. 2/26 & 2/27. 30 seats per night." -

                                                              From a marketing perspective, that's more like it. Direct, to the point, and you know you need to be glued to your browser at 1pm for a 1 minute shot at a ticket. No false expectations or unrealistic raised hopes..

                                                              1. re: grant.cook

                                                                Looks like GMR reads Chowhound! The Globe has a feature on the ramen craze today: http://bostonglobe.com/lifestyle/food...

                                                                http://mcslimjb.blogspot.com/

                                                                1. re: grant.cook

                                                                  Incidentally, the Globe reporter interviewed me for that ramen story, focusing on this very thread. But none of my comments made the story (no competitor quotes, maybe?) So I ran the whole interview on my blog today.

                                                                  http://mcslimjb.blogspot.com/

                                                                  1. re: grant.cook

                                                                    That's very true but the least they could do is reach out to people who lost time sitting at a computer for a entire day, like myself. There are a lot of disappointed people if you look on their facebook page.

                                                                    1. re: tatsu

                                                                      I think unfortunately, you can't directly email through Chowhound or she would have. I exchanged emails with her, but she only found me because I was on LinkedIn and was at a moment where I was checking email frequently.

                                                                      1. re: grant.cook

                                                                        CH never had messaging and organizing a Chowdown is next to impossible.

                                                                        I did contact them through Facebook several times but only received one short reply that did not address my concerns.

                                                                        To jgg13's point, the exaggerated metaphor is noted but not particularly enlightening.

                                                                        grant.cook and MC Slim JB have it right and it's a bit ironic that they have done more to calm me more than Guchi's has. Thanks to both of you and I think, in the end, the notion of the chowhounder or customer is always right! has gotten less and less play in this day and age of generosity and adulation towards restaurants.

                                                                        In other words, I don't think I'm being all that self-entitled and in fact may have let my foodism get the better of me, which Guchi unintentionally exploited. I wasn't the only one but I'm letting it go and looking at other options.

                                                                      2. re: tatsu

                                                                        They weren't putting a gun to your head & forcing you to sit there all day. It's
                                                                        a bowl of ramen, not world peace.

                                                                        1. re: jgg13

                                                                          I think GMR dealt with this issue by simply stating when tickets would on sale, which I think was the root cause of most of the frustration. Recent news bits have provided clarity that no, this isn't really a perlude to a "Haus o' Ramen" opening up anytime soon. This hopefully is a brief marketing lesson to future pop-ups.

                                                                          Show's you how word of mouth amped up by twitter/FB can let things get out of control a bit.. do you have 60 people trying to get a ticket or 6000? Even that Food Truck festival at Suffolk got overwhelmed, although they also did traditional advertising.

                                                                          1. re: grant.cook

                                                                            The last few years have seen a lot of events get pretty insane, and it's totally the advent of social media, sites like this & yelp and all of the media that sits in the layer above (e.g. daily candy). Things that would have been easy to attend 5-6 years ago sell out in seconds now and/or are totally swamped.

                                                                          2. re: jgg13

                                                                            It's not even Kraftwerk MoMa tickets!

                                                                            1. re: chickendhansak

                                                                              How did I miss Kraftwerk at MoMA? I LOVE Kraftwerk.

                                                                              1. re: StriperGuy

                                                                                Those tix were about as available as the Guchi tickets. FWIW though:
                                                                                http://www.moma.org/visit/calendar/ex...

                                                                      3. i'm confused...there are NO plans to open a permanent restaurant, right? they are just going to do a pop up every two weeks in space "donated" from other restaurants?

                                                                        7 Replies
                                                                        1. re: lucy92

                                                                          That is the case, to the best of my understanding, yes. The Guchi's chefs already have full-time jobs; this is a lark, a side project.

                                                                          http://mcslimjb.blogspot.com/

                                                                          1. re: MC Slim JB

                                                                            hey i very rarely post on here so apologies if i'm replying in the wrong place or otherwise out of line, but i think it's worth saying to the folks complaining over the price of dining-out ramen that your expectations are a little out of whack.

                                                                            i've been on this sort of personal food adventure for the last year or so trying all these different ramen places first all over the city and then in various cities around the country, and it's been my experience that $10 for a bowl is definitely the low end. the high end isn't terribly much higher: maybe $15-17 with some recommended extra toppings, etc.

                                                                            i'd have to go back and check the exact count but that pretty-sure estimate is based on something like 25 different ramen joints in New York, LA, and Boston in the last six months alone.

                                                                            I get where "$25 for ramen" sounds expensive, but really it's ramen, a side (buns usually) and a small dessert all produced on a really small scale. put all that together at most ramen places and you're at least nearing $20 if not more, and given that GMR's main problem right now seems to be demand it feels sort of unfair to complain about pricing. Then again, I don't post all that often so I guess if that's the tone of the board then it's my fault for chiming in where I maybe shouldn't.

                                                                            I like ramen (a lot) and I'm really glad there's starting to be a lot more places in town to try different preps from different chefs. at very least, my travel budget is grateful.

                                                                            thanks,
                                                                            |tj

                                                                            tj connelly / @senatorjohn / "that #ramenquest guy"

                                                                              1. re: senatorjohn

                                                                                I'm with senatorjohn ... seems like every trip home to CA involves a new ramen place, and I'm always spending about $15 there. Especially now that ramen is a craze, I expect it to be $15 at the trendy spots.

                                                                                So in comparison: $10 at Uni seems cheap, and $25 at GMR is actually below my expectations. I figure with the hype and perceived exclusivity, people would probably pay upwards of $40 for the experience. (Fewer people competing for tickets probably, but I don't doubt GMR would still book up.)

                                                                                1. re: senatorjohn

                                                                                  Don't be shy, we aren't mean. We get a little cranky sometimes, sure, but we are all rooting for the same outcome. Your perspective is helpful.

                                                                                  1. re: senatorjohn

                                                                                    I would say this is approximately accurate pricing in my experience as well. While I haven't been to 25 different ramen-ya, closer to a half dozen, I've found that the standard price for a bowl of ramen is approximately $10. Almost everyone orders extra toppings to put the price easily in the $15 range.

                                                                                    My issue with why I don't think its necessarily good value is that the ramen at GMR comes with only very basic toppings with no options to add. To me, that puts it in the $10 range when compared to ramen in SF and Vancouver (IE. Ramen Dojo, Santouka, Benkei, etc). Similarly, Uni's $10 ramen is comparable in price, but I feel like you get more substance for $10 elsewhere. I really do miss being able to add toppings and extra noodles to my ramen.

                                                                                    Again though, I felt like my time at GMR was money well spent, and I would do it again.

                                                                                    1. re: rlee21

                                                                                      I believe GMR makes their own noodles ... am I wrong? If it's true they make their own, I believe that's a big part of their value-added.

                                                                              2. I was one of those lucky enough to get a seat at the last GMR pop up in Sportello. Admittedly the ticketing setup last time was not ideal, but no one had to sit at their computer all afternoon. My friend and I setup up Twitter to text us GMR's tweets for that afternoon. Thus, as soon as we saw the text come up that tickets were on sale, we ran to our computers to get tickets and one of us was lucky enough to get tickets. In the mean time, I had a perfectly productive afternoon in lab. That said, I'm glad they announced when tickets will be on sale this week several days in advance.

                                                                                To comment on the actual food:

                                                                                1) The pork buns were most similar to the Taiwanese-style with braised pork belly (essentially 紅燒肉) with peanuts, pickled cucumber slices and cilantro. Compared to some similar baos I've had in Taiwan, I seem to recall those having suancai instead of pickled cucumbers. The buns themselves were fairly light, and the composition together was a delightful textural contrast. While I have yet to have the pork buns at Momofuku or Uni, these were certainly delicious.

                                                                                2) Given the choice of shio or shoyu, I went with shio. The broth itself was nicely balanced and rich, though it did not come across as meaty as Uni's traditional broth. The noodles had a very good texture, I would say better than those at Uni. I've had ramen at Uni twice; the noodles were subpar the first time I went, but the second time was much better. Its difficult to compare without them being side by side, but I still think I prefer GMR's noodles. The char siu at GMR was more tender, but Uni seemed more flavorful. Overall, the toppings at GMR were more traditional in my opinion, with the egg cooked to a higher temperature (solid white and custardy yolk vs. Uni's soft white and runny yolk) and the pickled bamboo shoots had good flavor.

                                                                                3) The green tea cookie was fine, but nothing exceptional. However, I did quite like the passionfruit caramel, savoring that more than the cookie.

                                                                                Overall, while I feel like one can find more bang for your buck elsewhere, the food was all quite good. Additionally, I really enjoyed my experience there. My friend was seated next to a well-known local chef, and I recognized a couple other faces as being prominent in the Boston food scene. While we didn't have a chance to chat with Mark or Guchi much as they were busy in the kitchen, service was top notch. Tracy, in particularly, was a fabulous hostess.

                                                                                I would certainly like to go again, although I feel its only fair to give others a shot. In the meantime, I'll be headed to Uni.

                                                                                1. Denied again! I'd estimate that all four seatings of the No. 9 Park event just sold out in under 10 seconds.

                                                                                  http://mcslimjb.blogspot.com/

                                                                                  22 Replies
                                                                                  1. re: MC Slim JB

                                                                                    that was crazy. I was hitting refresh starting from 5 secs before 1pm, saw the drop-down menu appear, selected my # of tickets and hit "submit" within 3-5 seconds and it was already sold out.

                                                                                    such high demand. my business-side suggests GMR sells seats at $50. they'll still sell out, I bet. (and yes, I'm all for extortion ...)

                                                                                    1. re: tammyh

                                                                                      They can't set that high a price point - and then go back on it later as demand drops (as demand always does as trends move on). It could very well tick off earlier customers.

                                                                                      If they truly wanted to play this for maximum ticket value, without setting too bad a precedent, they'd do a dutch auction on Ebay or something similar... the price becomes the maximum level that will still clear the market.

                                                                                      1. re: grant.cook

                                                                                        I actually really like the dutch auction idea, as the price is better controlled by the customers.

                                                                                        I guess essentially what I'm thinking is, there are people who are willing to pay more even if they're aware that the price will drop eventually. It's like technology (especially with the iPhones)--but maybe I shouldn't be applying technology to the food/hospitality industry ...

                                                                                    2. re: MC Slim JB

                                                                                      I just don't understand the hype to eat what I imagine is really great food but still just ramen at midnight on a weeknight.

                                                                                      The whole endeavor has become so much hype that no matter how good the meal is it's not going to live up to expectations.

                                                                                      If any ramen heads find themselves in Portland, OR though I highly suggest Boke Bowl. Started out as a popup like Guchi but took over a restaurant for an entire night when it did so less reliant on gimmicks and exclusivity and now has it's own space open seven days a week.

                                                                                      1. re: cbcpapa

                                                                                        I personally think the hype and gimmicks is really due to observers/customers/naysayers propagating GMR around. I haven't really seen much from GMR itself.

                                                                                        there also seems to be expectations that they should (1) continue, (2) expand, and/or (3) eventually open up shop. can't this just stay as a personal side project, a la "underground restaurants?" no one ever expects those to become full-fledged restaurants.

                                                                                        1. re: cbcpapa

                                                                                          I think the initial idea was that it would attract a lot of industry folks, people who actually knock off work at 11pm on a Sunday. It would not surprise me to learn that the number of tickets available to the public is a fraction of the total seating, that many seats are being sold offline to friends of the house who work in restaurants.

                                                                                          http://mcslimjb.blogspot.com/

                                                                                          1. re: MC Slim JB

                                                                                            I don't know. Mention of this thing was showing up in various publications for months and their initial invite of several Boston food bloggers suggests that they do have some PR muscle behind them and this was a deliberate move by someone. The restaurants that they are using to host the events also suggests that this is a much more calculated outfit. No. 9 Park is one of the nicest venues in Boston. This isn't like some friends deciding to do some late night food at Lord Hobo or Deep Ellum and letting it spread by word of mouth.

                                                                                            If they were trying to be a quiet business for friends or a fund side project I think you would have seen something happen similar to Strip-T's where it's a slow build and people start finding out about it over time and spreads organically.

                                                                                            I'm sure that the chefs behind it are nice people and maybe didn't expect the level of interest but they aren't faultless in this hype. Though at the same time maybe they underestimated the level of crazy that arises among some parts of the populace to do anything deemed exclusive or try to get access to anything that appears trendy and difficult to obtain.

                                                                                            1. re: cbcpapa

                                                                                              Yep, the ol' Velvet Rope Syndrome. Thousands of nightclub patrons are duped by this every week in Boston.

                                                                                              http://mcslimjb.blogspot.com/

                                                                                              1. re: cbcpapa

                                                                                                [just responding to the whole thread, in general]

                                                                                                I agree with those suggesting that there isn’t anything wrong with being strategic or "calculating" as far as creating buzz for a restaurant, or a limited-edition special event. Restaurants aren't goodwill organizations or cafeterias; they're businesses, and, in many instances, showcases for a chef's culinary passions and interests. The notion that potential patrons are somehow *entitled* to be allowed to participate, or to have the restaurateur offer them the experience on a convenient silver platter, strikes me as wrongheaded.

                                                                                                As for complaints that access is so limited that the phenomenon isn't newsworthy, or that covering it involves some sort of backroom, pay-for-play collusion between journalists and industry folks: pure nonsense, IMO. The fact that there are 115 posts on a thread (plus whatever's been deleted by the mods) on an important board like Chowhound means the buzz is there, and it's something people are talking about. The buzz, plus the burgeoning opinion that the ramen is pretty darned good (not to mention the debate on its relative merits) makes it a slam-dunk for a food journalist, as well as for gastronomically inclined readers who want to stay in the loop about what's new on the dining scene. (Though I agree with MC Slim’s comment that knowing whether it’s Toro hard, or French Laundry hard, would be a key element in coverage of the phenomenon.)

                                                                                                Finally, in terms of the velvet-rope ploy, it's an age-old trick that, yes, can fool the clamoring public. That said, the French Laundry, Le Comptoir du Relais, and David Chang's bo ssäm feast are just three of many "velvet-roped" food experiences I've had wherein—upon finally getting through—the experience was worth the hassle.

                                                                                                1. re: Jolyon Helterman

                                                                                                  I don't think most folks are complaining about collusion, but the charge of unequal access is pretty obviously justified: how many of these food writers and bloggers would have been able to provide the coverage they did if they'd had to compete for seats like ordinary schmucks? The tweet of the BoMag writer who got invited to the friends-and-family GMR event and then chided Chowhounds for airing their frustration at the limited number of tickets was sorta clueless.

                                                                                                  I think we can safely predict that the frenzy will die down as more experiences trickle out, and more people report, "You know, that was really good, and I'm glad I went, but I'm not sure how often I want to eat at midnight on a school night." There's a closed feedback loop of hyper-interest at work at the moment: people are more interested than they might be because people are more interested than they might be. I expect that to ebb as GMR does more events.

                                                                                                  That said, I'd like to know: how'd you get into the French Laundry without the benefit of a connection?

                                                                                                  http://mcslimjb.blogspot.com/

                                                                                                  1. re: MC Slim JB

                                                                                                    French Laundry: three friends (who were going to be meeting up with us in Wine Country), four phone lines, flexibility for the week (ended up getting it on our second day trying). The meal absolutely blew me away. :)

                                                                                                    1. re: Jolyon Helterman

                                                                                                      That's the same approach as anyone I've ever known to get a table there (or Chang's bo ssäm) without an "in": brute force and luck.

                                                                                                      http://mcslimjb.blogspot.com/

                                                                                                      1. re: MC Slim JB

                                                                                                        In general, actually eating at restaurants is pretty overrated. They are businesses, after all, and customers are sort of besides the point. I've been trying really hard to get into these four joints. No luck so far:
                                                                                                        http://www.thedailymeal.com/four-rest...

                                                                                                        1. re: hckybg

                                                                                                          Agreed: my goal nowadays with any restaurant is to get inside just long enough to score a branded pack of matches.

                                                                                                          http://mcslimjb.blogspot.com/

                                                                                                  2. re: Jolyon Helterman

                                                                                                    The fact that at least one restaurant admittedly added ramen to their menu seeing the success of Guchi's (PR-wise some of that even occurred before their first seating) and more are offering it, means there is demand and all types of media are wise to pay attention. However, I do think certain bloggers and more increasingly traditional media are prone to fawning over popups, the latest food truck, or one-day events in a way they don't treat the average restaurant (particuarly lets say one in Revere). Newspapers have to balance reporting on the "good life" and places where their average reader eats (why the Globe does more cheap eats reporting now than 20 years ago) -- a B&M restaurant is much easier to eat in than an irregular event, but it is things like this sell. And very little of the linked jornalism has been very "hard," plus nobody touches the "popup vs restaurant" topic (note their prices compare to established restaurants which had to deal with all the hassles of permitting, procurement, full time salaries even when the restaurant isn't full, dealing with reviews of the good, bad, and ugly on their full menu). Plus when ramen is no longer the latest trend, they don't have to rework their menu vs just stop offering the nights. One of the links mentioned "they have to put in a 18 hour day to pull this off" ... do you know how MANY 18 hour days are required to open a restaurant?? The reporting is there because there interest, but also because its just as easy for the jornalist as it is (relatively) easy for the cooks to do a popup instead of a restaurant.

                                                                                                    Hats off for the chefs and manager with Guchi's, plus their "popup specialist consultant" -- I think they are doing well and the food sounds appealing. However, I would rather spend 5 hours driving over mountain passes to have "vaca atolada" (beef ribs with yuca) cooked over a wood fire and bring back some fresh fruit sweets and liquers with me or goat cooked in a beach encampment in baja which you can't reach by car (my own velvet rope scenarios), than 5 hours hitting reload on my browser to make a ramen night. If there were Lucky Peach reprints, I might DIY too and spend my time in town going to Toro (or have ramen downstairs at Clio or Porter Exchange). I also will pay more attention to a jornalist who spends 5 hours beating the streets of our city (or at least trying multiple fine dining restaurants) vs someone who just posts pictures of the latest event or food trend.

                                                                                                    Since there obviously is chowhound interest in Guchi's, an enterprising chowhound could contact the Guchi's people and see if they would arrange a "chowdown" seating sometime in the future when things quiet down, perhaps allowing individuals to sample multiple broths. A 35 person chowdown is perfectly manageable from an organizational standpoint.

                                                                                                        1. re: itaunas

                                                                                                          Thanks for the perspective. Well stated.

                                                                                                    1. re: MC Slim JB

                                                                                                      Confirmation of my speculation from a friend who attended the Monday night event at No. 9 Park: many attendees were industry folks, and I'm guessing they did not have to hazard the online ticketing process.

                                                                                                      http://mcslimjb.blogspot.com/

                                                                                                      1. re: MC Slim JB

                                                                                                        I would be interested to know whether there were indeed 30 seats per night (as advertised on Twitter, etc.) that were open to the public, or whether that count includes seats already set aside for industry folks. If in actuality, there are only 15 seats per night that are open to the public, then that is more useful information.

                                                                                                        1. re: rlee21

                                                                                                          That's an excellent point. She thinks there were significantly more than 30 diners there, which supports the notion that the advertised number of tickets available to the general public were actually for sale online.

                                                                                                          http://mcslimjb.blogspot.com/

                                                                                                  3. re: MC Slim JB

                                                                                                    Maybe if they're serving at midnight, seats should go on sale at midnight. That would clear some of the oldsters out of the competition (I count myself among that group).

                                                                                                  4. At the risk of being called snarky again on this thread

                                                                                                    if I scored tix, are they transferable? Could I auction off my two seats for say $2500 with proceeds going to, lets just say - a local 'soup' kitchen?

                                                                                                    They've obviously stacked the deck, so with tickets in hand, why shouldn't I do my part on local hunger?

                                                                                                    Heck a rich chowhounder could win the tix, a food kitchen would benefit, and then they could donate them to MrSlim for a live report!

                                                                                                    18 Replies
                                                                                                    1. re: Bellachefa

                                                                                                      Industry folks are taunting me, reminding me that I passed on the invitation to go to the first one at Bondir.

                                                                                                      http://mcslimjb.blogspot.com/

                                                                                                      1. re: MC Slim JB

                                                                                                        I have to admit that I thought that it was pretty weird that you hadn't gone yet. I had assumed that you were either being sneaky and not sharing or that you were snubbed. Did you get "wish you were here" or "This is some good eating" picture messages from them?

                                                                                                        1. re: viperlush

                                                                                                          Nope, I got an invite to the first one at Bondir, gratis, but could not attend. I generally shun press events, anyway.

                                                                                                          http://mcslimjb.blogspot.com/

                                                                                                        2. re: MC Slim JB

                                                                                                          Actually, I give you kudos for it - access is something us local yokels have to understand as part of our decision making, and I appreciate restaurant critics experiencing the same thing.

                                                                                                        3. re: Bellachefa

                                                                                                          can y'all just figure out how to make the noodles, come back, report to the other chowhounders your findings, and then help us host our own homemade-ramen-dinner-at-a-more-reasonable-hour-than-midnight?

                                                                                                          I like my proposal better.

                                                                                                            1. re: Bellachefa

                                                                                                              Believe me the hype was built up by them to some extant. I was friended on Facebook by one of them!

                                                                                                              I'm glad I can eat better ramen in Japan and NYC.

                                                                                                              1. re: tatsu

                                                                                                                there will always be better [insert dish here] in [insert city here].

                                                                                                                1. re: tatsu

                                                                                                                  I accept your apology and olive branch that you failed to add.

                                                                                                                  1. re: tatsu

                                                                                                                    Just got back about 45 minutes ago from Totto Ramen, which I consumed at midnight. The bus ticket down was 15 dollars. The guys there were great, the music was loud, everyone was happy, and I didn't have to do anything on twitter or facebook.

                                                                                                                    1. re: hckybg

                                                                                                                      9 hours of road time for a bowl of ramen? That's dedication..

                                                                                                                      1. re: grant.cook

                                                                                                                        Haha, I had to be in NY for other reasons. But the ramen was worth it!

                                                                                                                      2. re: hckybg

                                                                                                                        I like Kuboya in LES lately. They occasionally do creative ramen such as tomato basil. The pork buns look better than anything else I've seen and the taste is beautiful. I haven't tried Totto yet.

                                                                                                                        1. re: tatsu

                                                                                                                          It was near where I was staying, and that was my first visit, but I was really pleased. A much less collagenous broth than at our Sapporo, noodles with a great bite, and pork that was both meaty and melting. I didn't add anything fancy but did have the spicy broth, which seemed to have a ton of black pepper in it as well as some spicy additions. Very excellent. I'd be interested to find a place in Boston that not only captures the flavor but also the wonderful Japanese late night punk/skater/party culture that makes these places so fun.

                                                                                                                    2. re: Bellachefa

                                                                                                                      Although you'll need the 2nd edition for the proper noodle recipe, that is if you want them to turn out ok.

                                                                                                                      1. re: jgg13

                                                                                                                        so true! they screwed up a pretty important recipe! darn editors! It did inspire a great cartoon in issue 2

                                                                                                                        1. re: jgg13

                                                                                                                          Corrections to Issue #1: http://www.mcsweeneys.net/luckypeach#... Glad I haven't tried to make the alkaline noodles. That's a tiny oopsie there: "Ahem, we meant 4 tsp of baked soda (calcium carbonate, made by roasting baking soda at 250 F for an hour), not 4 Tbsp." Yikes!

                                                                                                                          http://mcslimjb.blogspot.com/

                                                                                                                          1. re: MC Slim JB

                                                                                                                            Yeah, I never got around to making those (yet).

                                                                                                                            That curry ragu from the cavatelli recipe is pretty badass though. I've been lazy and only made angel hair w/ it (only have a couple of cutters & I ain't going to roll cavatelli by hand). Also used it in actual meat pies which was pretty good as well.