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Aug 21, 2013 06:45 PM

Inaka, Allston

Jenny Ondioline and I finally got around to trying Inaka, a Japanese restaurant that opened in May in the space that used to be Madina Market (72 Brighton Avenue, between Mixx and Shabu-Zen.)

The menu is small - four appetizers, four ramen options, four donburi, a katsu plate, and a curry plate (basically the katsu pate with Japanese curry sauce added.) We shared an order of extremely garlicky gyoza, Jenny Ondioline had the yakibuta ramen, with shoyu broth and a generous portion of roasted pork, and I decided to try the hiyashi chuka, a cold ramen dish.

A number of reviewers on Yelp have complained that the shoyu ramen broth is bland and too salty, but we both thought it was delicious. And I loved the hiyashi chuka. Ramen noodles are served on a plate rather than in a big soup bowl, bathed in a chilled spicy broth/sauce and topped with matchstick-cut pork, tamago, a couple of shell-and-head-on shrimp, seaweed salad, slivers of cucumber, and some corn. It was a refreshing dish on this hot day - definitely something to keep in mind when the dog days hit again next summer, if not sooner.

Service was very friendly, and the waiter asked if it was our first time visiting and made a number of recommendations from the menu. We look forward to visiting again soon - I want to try one of the donburi options, and we both love katsu. A nice addition to the neighborhood.

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  1. Thanks for this review. So funny, we walked by tonight having never seen or heard of it. I was going to look it up when I got home; perfect timing!

    How would you compare it to Pikachi across the street? Granted they don't offer donburi.

    4 Replies
    1. re: Klunco

      The yakibuta ramen is far superior to Pikachi's equivalent dish, with much tastier broth and better quality pork.

      1. re: Klunco

        Actually, Pikaichi offers quite a few donburi - their menu has expanded considerably since they opened.

        We don't really have a lot of data points to compare so far, but I did think that both of the ramen dishes we tried beat Pikaichi. I look forward to trying Inaka's katsu plate, because Pikaichi's katsu-don has been pretty disappointing - among other things they cut it way too big, and it's just plain difficult to pick up and eat.

        1. re: Allstonian

          Thanks for the heads up! Yeah, we went a couple of times last year but it didn't end up getting a spot in the rotation. Looking forward to trying Inaka. Oyako Donburi is real comfort food for me.

          1. re: Klunco

            I'm right fond of oyako-don myself, but they don't have it at Inaka. (They do at Pikaichi, though.) Inaka's donburi roster is a bit odd, honestly - it includes duck in a sweet dark sauce, una-don, grilled tilapia "with unagi sauce" (noticing a theme here?), and, weirdly, mapo dofu.

      2. I need to go back and explore that menu, but I liked the shoyu ramen with thin noodles a lot. The broth didn't have quite the depth I had hoped for, i.e., something akin to the similarly-priced weekend lunch ramen at Yakitori Zai, but overall it was a very satisfying dish.

        They don't make their own noodles, but claim the thin noodles are a "custom order" from their purveyor. Agree on the fine quality of the roast pork on top.

        Cold noodles on my next visit, for sure. Very nice folks in charge who seem to care about the customer experience are a real plus.

        1 Reply
        1. re: MC Slim JB

          When I was there they mentioned they have two kinds of noodles and we can pick one. One is thin and soft, and one is thicker and al dente. We picked the thicker one, although it was still pretty thin.

          I had the spicy miso ramen which I liked better then Pikaichi and Sapporo ramen.

        2. Pic of Inaka's shoyu ramen with thin noodles: (really like that big wooden spoon):

          1. I hate shoyu ramen, do you remember what the other options were?

            2 Replies
            1. re: Luther

              Shoyu ramen, hiyashi chuka, miso ramen and yakibuta ramen. A few apps (purple sweet potato fries, for one) and a few donburi, one or two katsu combos.


              1. re: Luther

                Here's a photo of the menu off Yelp.


                Wee bit blurry; you can barely make out the dishes. I was there for lunch today, and in addition to what MC Slim JB said, they were offering a spicy miso ramen.

                For early lunchers, be patient if you go early. It supposedly opens at 11 and I was there around 11:30, only to find the closed sign. I waited for a few minutes, knocking from time to time, and eventually someone appeared and opened, apologizing that they had started a bit late.