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Oct 2, 2013 08:05 AM

Yume wo katare - the real deal

I used to live in Tokyo where my hobby was obsessing about ramen. that's a thing over there. in fact there are quite a few monthly magazines specifically on ramen and the leading review site features rating with 5 digits. So for example the 99.537/100 shop is better than the 99.536/100 shop.

Long story short I am happy to confirm that Yume wo katare feels, smells, sounds and tastes like an actual ramen shop.

As you may or may not know there are different types of ramen: tonkotsu, tonkotsu gyokai, shio, miso to name a few. Yume wo katare specializes in a very specific kind of ramen pioneered by a Japanese chain called Jiroh. That ramen is basically a fatty pork and soy sauce based broth with veggies, garlic and noodles. Personally I like other kinds of ramen more, but for what it's worth the stuff yume wo katare churns out is very close to the Japanese ideal of this style of ramen and you got to respect that.

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  1. Have you had the chance to try either the ramen shops in Porter Exchange or the new Snappy Ramen in Davis Square? I'd be very interested to hear your thoughts on their offerings.

    3 Replies
    1. re: Boston_Otter

      Sapporo has had lines every time I've been near there.. used to be able to get a seat relatively quickly, but not anymore..

      1. re: grant.cook

        I've discovered you pretty much either need to get there within 15 mins of it opening or get lucky because of that. Which is a shame because it's not nearly good enough to warrant standing in line for.

        It's also a shame that the other stalls generally sit completely empty while there's a huge line for Sapporo.

        1. re: jgg13

          Most seem decently busy.. the one across from Sapporo seems to be the one that gets the least traffic.

    2. YWK has been my regular Wednesday night late-dinner spot. Great for stuffing myself after my regular volleyball league. I wish they'd serve beer.

      I'm not sure anymore though if I really enjoy jiro ramen per se. In a sense it does pack lotsa flavor, what with the garlic on top of everything. But the salty porkiness gets to a point where I don't really taste anything. I still enjoy the texture of the diff components, which is fine too. I can always go across the street and get Rod Dee's tom yum noodle soup if I want noodles (ramen or not) that are more delicious, for my lack of a more precise term.

      1 Reply
      1. re: lossless

        so far after 5 visits we LOVE it--- glad to know its authentic, havent had it in Japan ,yet

      2. 1. anyone been lately? how are the lines these days?

        2. for those who don't lurk, the manhattan board is having a bit of a discussion on ymk (after someone asking if anywhere in nyc serves jiro style ramen), with some board members curious as to exactly what the style is like, if anyone from around here wants to chime in with a response over there...

        10 Replies
        1. re: valcfield

          YMK was closed for most of December, but I visited on a Saturday in late October and there was a long line when they opened at 5. We got there at 4:45 with a party of 4 and were just able to get in for the first seating.

          I've heard anecdotally that there usually isn't much of a line if you go on a day when the weather is rainy (because fewer people want to stand in line in the rain).

          1. re: huuvola

            We went for the first time during holiday week (Friday night) when the temperature was 0 degrees F and we still had a 20 minute wait just to get in the door. Boy, did that ramen taste great when we finally sat down!

            Granted, I think we walked up at exactly the wrong time. Definitely a shorter line than I have seen in passing.

            1. re: Bob Dobalina

              you are a bigger hound than i will ever be.

              There is no soup on the planet that I would wait 20 minutes in zero degree weather for.

              I might, MIGHT wait twenty minutes outside for the Bahn Xeo or garlic noodle at Star Noodle in Lahaina, but then it would be an 80 degree Hawaii wait.

              Thats different.

              1. re: hyde

                Not more of a hound - just asserting my inner New England yankee.

          2. re: valcfield

            I went to Yume Wo Katare this past Saturday night after a concert, arriving at about 10:15. There was no wait, but it wasn't empty either—about 13 seats occupied out of 18. They closed as scheduled at 11, and I don't think they ran out of ramen before then; no one was turned away. No guarantees, but you might want to try arriving closer to closing than to opening time.

            I really enjoyed my ramen, and finished the bowl. There's a sort of house cheer—"perfect" if you eat everything, "good job" if you leave only broth, and "next time" if you leave noodles or pork—when each person gets up to leave, an oddly endearing practice. I'm not sure I'd want to eat a bowl too often, as it's a heavy and filling meal, but it is very tasty and unusual; the broth is especially rich.

            1. re: owades

              I recall reading that all of the staff will only speak in Japanese. Is that (still?) true?

              err: clearly even if true it isn't 100% based on the 'good job', 'perfect', stuff

              1. re: jgg13

                It's not entirely Japanese. The persons who seat you (and take your money) will speak English.

                When a cook yells over to ask if you want extra garlic, that will be only in Japanese.

                When you are done eating, they will say one of three things in English (as noted in the post above). They're often spoken with a strong Japanese accent, but the phrases are English.

                1. re: huuvola

                  What's the appropriate call and response on that? I think I missed it on my one visit, but yes I do want extra garlic!

                  I wish they were open for lunch as that would work better for my schedule.

                  1. re: black_lab

                    This site has a really great, comprehensive overview of all things Yume Wo Katare, updated regularly:

                    When asking about extra garlic, the chef will yell out "Ninniku iremasuka?" in Japanese. You can just say yes or no in English, but I highly recommend YES (or "Hai" in Japanese), because the garlic is freshly prepared and a wonderful addition to the dish (not overpowering, as I originally assumed it might be).

                    1. re: huuvola

                      What a wonderful link. I learned a lot.

          3. I would love to try this. The place seems impossible to get into without a brutal wait, in temperatures and conditions inhospitable to man. Get in, eat as fast as you can and get the fuck out, no talking, seems to be the order of the day for those few I have talked to who have actually made the commitment.

            In the past week I have eaten the "Zha Jiang Noodle w. Pork & Spicy Sauce" at Szechuan Gourmet in Framingham , and even better, the "Noodles with Stewed Beef in House Spicy soup" at Red Pepper, also in Framingham.

            Comfortable, no-rush, lunches with soup as good as I have ever had. "Sure, ill have another beer" for under 10 bucks and free parking.

            I guess i will just have to suffer through.

            7 Replies
            1. re: hyde

              "Get in, eat as fast as you can and get the fuck out, no talking, seems to be the order of the day for those few I have talked to who have actually made the commitment." This is true, but it's also what I expect from any traditional ramen joint. At least at YWK, you don't have the next hungry patron queuing up behind your stool.


              1. re: MC Slim JB

                I have to accept that its just not my thing.

                I have to accept that I dont see eating food as a paying customer as a competitive sport.

                I hated eating like this when I was at summer camp when I was eight. I dont want to do it 50 years later.

                So I wont.

                I still miss Kojima's best (and I know this is a different thing), but I believe the best thing that could come out of all of this is the realization that there might well be a market for a small operation to make a financial go of it doing ONE thing very well, with limited hours with a loyal base, rather than another chinese place that makes terrible pad thai that comes with their underseasoned fried chicken and fries.

                1. re: hyde

                  Nothing says you can't sneak in with a Tupperware.

                  1. re: Bob Dobalina

                    A gallon Ziploc would also do the trick.

                    I've finished the buta (after fasting all day) and left the smaller bowl with broth and noodles in it. I'm going to stop when I'm full, huzzahs or no.


                  2. re: hyde

                    YWK has only succeeded thus far because there are enough Japanese in the area motivated to go eat there, coinciding with some minor spillover into Boston of the current global ramen fad's effect in NYC. I think in general, sadly, a one-thing-well-with-limited-hours shop is still not possible to operate in Boston/Cambridge.

                    1. re: Luther

                      Damn, thought I was on to something

                      1. re: Luther

                        Gene's flatbread really just does well with hand-pulled noodles; Amsterdam falafel just does, well, falafel. Sabzi in Arlington just does kebabs basically. There are niche places that survive as a niche player.

                        Unless the space gets torn down for another luxury condo building, you've got a business where you make broth from cheap cuts of pork and fat, add in noodles (which is high margin - anytime you order pasta, the restaurant is jumping for joy..), and create a high-cover environment (aka eat and leave quickly), voila.

                        They could always add a lunch service if they needed more covers per day to survive.

                        You do have one good point in whether ramen will endure or grow as an in-demand cuisine in Boston. But I can't think of many ethic cuisines that have spiked and then retracted severly - bagel shops, maybe, but even Fro-yo has endured and is on another upswing. It tastes good, so I hope to continue having options to eat it.

                2. I finally made it to Abigail's in Kendall Sq. for their late night ramen/kung fu movie special (after 10 pm Thurs. and Fri.). I really enjoyed their double-pork ramen. (They also have a veggie option, not sure if that's possible to do authentically.) Abigail's is not as heavy as YWK (and YWK is awesome but just too heavy for me to do with any regularity), but it's pretty heavy. I would love to know what someone more experienced with ramen thinks of their offering.

                  For me, I think it compares pretty well with the other local options (in addition to YWK, I've tried Sapporo, Pikaichi and Inaka), particularly given its convenience for me. Although the hours are limited, the upside is a nice place with a laid-back vibe, awesome cocktails and beer list, and no pressure to finish and leave.

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: CportJ

                    hey just wanted to reopen this thread and see if anyone knows if YWK still has long lines, or if they thin out later, maybe around 8 or 9? I haven't been to Porter in a while but I'll be there tonight and was thinking of trying to go for a late-ish dinner. Thanks!

                    1. re: julieapfel

                      We went on the early side this summer - late June - and waited maybe 15 mins. It was about 6:30, and we were a party of two, which I think moved things along much more quickly.