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Apr 29, 2012 12:02 PM

Boston Japan Festival in Copley

Made a trip into Copley Square to try to get some food at the Japan Festival. Bad idea- the place was mobbed, and the layout was a bit boxed in, so it was slow going moving around.

Realizing it was a hot mess, we ended up having lunch at the Rattlesnake nearby. When we passed the square again closer to 2, I saw a sign that food tickets were sold out, and there were still massive crowds around the food tent, to the point that I couldn't even see if things looked tasty.

So did anybody actually eat anything there, and how was it?

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  1. Some friends and I managed to get a tiny styrofoam bowl of udon for 3 tickets ($3) which was served with a really simple broth and one slice of fish cake. There were also yaki soba, curry rice, and onigiri (rice ball) booths and bottles of ramune (Japanese soda) for sale--mostly items that could be easily prepared at home or bought at the nearest Asian market. The longest line was for okonomiyaki which was 5 tickets. We didn't try to brave that because it was moving at a glacial pace--in fact, none of the food booths really seemed to be set up for speed or giant crowds. It didn't feel like anyone was really in the food service industry--in fact, it reminded me of a high school food fair which would probably have been fine if the whole placed were not packed elbow to elbow.

    2 Replies
    1. re: coriolis

      I was very disappointed that booth did not have a giant BUKKAKE NOODLES sign, as that's how it was advertised in the event literature: (yes, I am aware of the origin of that term).

      1. re: coriolis

        Do you remember what restaurants provided the ramen at the two ramen stalls?

      2. We too gave up when we saw the l-o-n-g lines for both the food tickets and for the food itself. Since this is the first time they did this, I suspect the organizers didn't expect such a huge turn-out. It was very disorganized, no doubt. I was most interested in trying the ramen (2 stalls). One stall said they're coming to Boston (presumably opening a resto?). The okonomiyaki looked good too, as did the squid yakitori. We gave up and went to Chinatown instead. Wonder if they will host this again next year? If so, they'll need a bigger space (eg, Gov't center) and perhaps pre-sell food tickets online....

        1. the tickets sold out just as we got there around 12:30, so they were sold out pretty quickly.
          The mochi place sold out of all their stuff by 1pm.
          It was a sardine can. Word got around far too much and the area was just way too small for the amount of people...they're better off doing it at the Boston Common...not even sure Govt Center is big enough for the amount of people we saw.

          It was interesting though...bought a few things to support the tsunami/nuke victims ( never know where the money will go). There was a place selling green tea that tasted higher quality than what you can get off the shelf and bought a bag ($15 for maybe 2oz?)
          Someone locally is selling freshly made mochi but we couldn't buy anything because they only accepted tickets...they're in Somerville but it's catering/email ordering only instead of a place you can stop by and buy stuff.

          2 Replies
          1. re: Spike

            Do you know the name of the company?

          2. Just a sidenote, one of the ramen stalls at the matsuri this past weekend will be opening up a
            (tonkotsu) ramen restaurant in September in Porter Square. As I understand it, the owner is a
            comedian in Japan who opened a number of successful ramen shops in Kansai, and he has
            now moved into the area so will open one up here. Looking forward to September!

            7 Replies
            1. re: amatto

              That's great news. Thanks. A real ramen shop that isn't a pop up in a fancy restaurant. What a concept!

              1. re: amatto

                Thanks for the scoop! It's nice that we have some dedicated ramen shops already (Sapporo, Pikaichi) but there's always room for more IMO. Especially if they nail that real Japanese ramen experience.

                1. re: amatto

                  According to a discussion on another site, the restaurant looking to open here Minca which now is in NYC.

                  Here's their website:

                  Fingers crossed!

                  1. re: kdl

                    Oh I know the owner - Minca/Kambi is pretty good. The place next door, Kuboya, is very good too. They are friends. I will try to find out next time I'm in NYC.

                    1. re: tatsu

                      If the owner is wondering whether there's enough demand for ramen in Boston, he should take a look at the long lunch time lines at Saporro. I think minca would do great here! We need more ramen! :-)

                      1. re: tatsu

                        Plot thickens a bit more. According to Eater:

                        "It appears as though the ramen shop rumored to be coming to Porter Square may be YUMEWOKATARE, a chain with five locations in Japan. ..."


                        1. re: kdl

                          Aw man, I really hope it's Minca not yumewokatare..

                  2. Friends and I managed to get the okonomiyaki and yaki soba--they were good. My Japanese co-worker told me that the company/vendor making it is the most well-regarded maker of the sauce in Japan. Okonomiyaki was Osaka-style, which I'd only had once while living in Japan and could never find it again (I had it in Tokyo.) It was very thick and had lots of coarsely shredded cabbage in it. Since it took me so long to get the food, I bought an extra okonomiyaki to take home--it reheated surprisingly well the next day in the toaster oven.

                    Apparently the organizers were expecting between 2000 and 5000 people and got many more than anticipated. Discussions are underway for a much bigger space next year. I'll look forward to more festival food.