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Dec 30, 2013 01:27 PM

Yummy Ramen In and Around Boston

I'm wondering what's yummy in terms of ramen up in Boston, Cambridge, and the nearby surrounding areas. I'm very familiar with the New York ramen scene (Santouka, Ippudo, Momofuku Noodle Bar, Ramen Misoya, Minca, Rai Rai Ken, Zutto, Totto, Jin, Jinya, Donburiya, Ramen Setagaya).

To give you an idea of my taste buds when it comes to ramen, while I really like Ippudo, I don't think it's the absolute best. I'm now more ramen educated and understand that there are different broths (salt, soy sauce, pork, chicken, seafood, miso, etc) and each is evaluated on its on merits, as compared to evaluating a bowl of ramen solely based on whether or not its as good as Ippudo.

From the list above, places I liked the most to are Santouka (in Edgewater, NJ), Ippudo, Momofuku Noodle Bar, Zutto (seafood ramen!), Ramen Misoya (gf loves miso ramen), Jin, Minca and Totto.

The only real ramen place I'm familiar with up in Boston is Yume Wo Katare. What's good besides that place?

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  1. Boston has gotten a lot better on the ramen front lately, and I'm a big fan of Yume Wo Katare, but overall the scene is nowhere near New York City's yet. Bring modest expectations and check out the late-night weekend bar at Clio, Inaka in Allston, Ittoku in Brighton, Sapporo in Davis Square, and Pikaichi in Allston.

    Strip-T's in Watertown occasionally does ramen on its lunch menu, and it's very good by local standards.

    Back Bay's long-running Men Tei will do if you are in that neighborhood and desperate. The UK chain Wagamama has a couple of outlets in Boston and its share of fans, though I'm not thrilled by it.

    If you can score a rare ticket to the pop-up Guchi's Midnight Ramen (if they ever do it again), that's worth the trouble. Pai Men Miyake in Portland, ME is also worth a trip for ramen and pork belly buns.

    A few I have yet to try: Snappy (Davis Square), Irashai (Chinatown), Boston Ramen Co. (a weekend night delivery option), and Ichiban (near Symphony Hall).

    4 Replies
    1. re: MC Slim JB

      Thank you for your recommendations, Slim! I'll further look into the places you mentioned.

      1. re: MC Slim JB

        Sapporo is in the Porter Exchange, not Davis?

        1. re: Parsnipity

          Yes, Sapporo is in Porter Exchange (and soon to be coming to Central as well, if the H-Mart ever opens!). If you're new to the area, Will, note that the Porter Exchange building is now part of Lesley College and is labelled as such, but don't be fooled - no one ever refers to it as anything but Porter Exchange. There's a small food court with mostly Japanese stalls; they tend to be more good than great, but Japanese food in Boston is pretty limited, unfortunately, and most of the stalls have at least one or two reliable dishes.

          1. re: TimTamGirl

            Thanks for the info. I'm not really new to the area, as I went to grad school at Emerson, but went back home to NJ after graduation. I still get back to Boston from time to time, but wasn't interested in the food scene when I was a student, as I am now. I never even ate instant ramen as a student, which is the staple of many students!

            Sadly, there was no ramen to be had during this visit. We're currently staying in Central Square and had this visit planned since September, but weren't able to change our travel plans, despite the storm that just hit. There was no way we were making it anywhere last night and we pondered going out to Yume Wo Kawarte tonight, but upon calling at 5:30, they said there was already a line. With the temperatures dropping rapidly and our hotel telling us of a snow enforced parking ban beginning at 5pm, we decided to put it off until our next trip. We spent some of the afternoon in Harvard Square tho, so after the fact, I of course was wondering why we didn't just depart from there, when it was earlier and less frigid, instead of walking back to Central Square and then deciding from there whether we'd go or not.

            There was a place near our hotel - Moska, which had a sign out front today, advertising "Hot Drinks and Steaming Ramen" - I kind of knew better than to go in there tho. I later checked their menu and they only offer miso and shoyu ramen.

      2. I think Slim advising to temper expectations if coming from New York City is prudent. That said, Devra First published a good primer on Boston Ramen in October

        I haven't been but I recently saw via twitter that Beacon Hill Bistro has been experimenting with ramen from 3:30-5pm. I think that's the only place not covered in Slim's post above.

        4 Replies
        1. re: Klunco

          Ok, thank you for the Devra link and mentioning the Beacon Hill Bistro :)

          1. re: Klunco

            I also left out backbar, which due to its odd ramen service hours (4pm-6pm) I have never gotten to. I quite like it for cocktails.


            1. re: MC Slim JB

              Don't kill yourself to get there. I tried the current version last weekend, and while the noodles and pork were quite good, the broth was so thin and bland that it pretty well ruined it - and that was after I had added chili oil and ginger. I actually saw other patrons ask for salt for theirs, and was close to doing the same myself. Never seen that happen before with ramen anywhere.

              I guess they change ramen types every few months, but based on this one I'd say stick to the pork buns and cocktails.

              1. re: TimTamGirl

                I'll bear the suggestions about Backbar in mind. But the weak broth reminds me of Ramen Setagaya, which used to be good when they were on 1st Ave, but once they moved to St. Marks and it was turned over to other people, the quality dropped.

          2. I would advise trying the new Seoul Soulongtang in Allston instead. It is not ramen at all, and you can find it in NYC too but it is better done than many of the ramen around here. Close by is a new izakaya, Ittoku, which is getting mixed reviews. Japanese food in Boston is about as weak as it gets here. I eat out in NYC for that!

            1 Reply
            1. re: tatsu

              One of my girlfriend's friend's brothers recommended Ittoku, but not specicially for ramen. I'll investigate more.

            2. I have tried all the places you have btw except Zutto and Jin. Give SEO late-night only ramen a shot and Kubo a try too. The late night menu at SEO is actually a different operation and they have the best J style shumai.

              1 Reply
              1. re: tatsu

                I'm familiar with SEO and some of the other late night ramen pop ups. I'll make it one day, but I'll need to have a substantial appetite around 11pm for that.

                In terms of Zutto, try their Seafood ramen. Lobster brother with ginger, scallions, manilla clams, shrimp... really good! Jin is yummy too, but up near Columbia on 125. Huge Columbia crowd.

              2. Yume Wo Katare is a cut above the rest, although the style (Jiro) is also completely different from the others. My advice is to avoid Snappy and the midnight ramen at Uni Sashimi Bar.

                I was just in NYC and tried the shiromaru at Ippudo, Tokyo ramen at Sapporo, and classic shoyu at Ivan Ramen. I was not impressed with Ippudo--the broth lacked depth, the menma was cut too thick and was too fibrous, and the chaashuu was rather dry. Sapporo's Tokyo ramen actually did remind me of the classic "chuuka soba" served at Chinese restaurants in 1960s Tokyo when I was a child. I'm not saying it's great ramen, but it made me nostalgic. Ivan's shoyu broth was really good--okay, maybe a bit too salty, but it packed an umami punch and had some subtle, complex tones. His rye noodles were interesting--kind of like a cross between ramen and soba noodles.

                5 Replies
                1. re: Edokko

                  Glad to hear that Ivan Ramen is worth the stop. That place is on my list for sure. Were you at the Slurp Shop at the Gotham West Market or is his Clinton Street shop open?

                  My first ramen experience was Rai Rai Ken in 2010. I don't remember if it was good, but obviously I liked it enough to continue eating ramen. I want to go back.

                  1. re: willscarlett

                    Slurp Shop. I don't think the Clinton St. shop is open yet.

                      1. re: willscarlett

                        Damn, I wish Boston had this kind of action going on...

                  2. re: Edokko

                    By the way, about Ippudo, I also am not the biggest fan of the chaashuu that comes standard with their ramen. I always order the pork belly, which is $4 extra, but worth it.