August 2020 - February 2021
In Japanese grade school, students are often asked to write an 絵日記 (えにっき), that is, a picture diary, over their exploits during summer break; in my experience, it was a fun way to go out and have fun during summer, while also learning from the experiences I had through reflection and recollection. In that same spirit, this guide will be titled the ラーメン日記, or my ‘Ramen diary’.
As an intern, and as a university student with limited kitchen access but homesick for Japanese food, I will be exploring what Boston can offer to my Ramen cravings. I will disclose that this is not a ranking list, nor a culinary study, but rather the opinions of a JSB intern with a Ramen addiction. Furthermore, with each restaurant, I have tried to order either a takeout option, or a make-it-yourself kit; this seemed more topical with the overall idea of “what Ramen can I have under the pandemic circumstances”. Having said all this, it’s time to go eat Ramen (in a safe, socially distanced manner of shopping) and explore the Greater Boston area along the way! The current COVID-19 pandemic, many of these restaurants provide take-out or delivery options which fill a specific niche of online food service. Ramen, currently a Japanese cultural staple universally familiar around the world, takes many forms and varieties between regions and markets. The Boston area is no different; with many Japanese-owned and run Ramen-ya (ラーメン屋) in the area, there are a multitude of options to go with, including Ramen restaurants Santouka, Ganko Ittetsu, Brooklyn Ramen, Migaku, Yume ga arukara, Pikaichi, Tsurumen, Amaterasu, Oisa, Ebisuya, and more.
25 Feb 2021 5:08 PM
For this entry, I ordered from Tsurumen, in Davis Square (420 Highland Ave, Somerville, MA 02144). Currently, they have dine in, take out, and delivery options: Grubhub (delivery and pickup), UberEats (delivery and pickup), and Seamless (delivery).
They have a few options when it comes to ramen, most of which are based on a chicken broth; their most popular option is the Shoyu (醤油/soy sauce) ramen. Other options currently available include the Vegan Miso (味噌/fermented soybean paste) ramen, the paitan chicken broth ramen, a Miso gyūkotsu (牛骨/beef broth) ramen, and the “Formula 2020 Shiso Wonton Shio” ramen.
I have to admit, I deviated from the precedent of ordering the most basic ramen in this instance as the “Formula 2020” caught my intrigue; it was a shio (塩/salt) based ramen with chicken broth, and the main hallmark is the chicken and shiso (紫蘇/perilla) wontons it comes with. The bowl also comes with negi (ネギ/scallions), tamanegi (玉ネギ/onions), and menma (メンマ/fermented bamboo shoots).
This was an amazing bowl of ramen, and I cannot overstate just how well-tuned every piece of the puzzle was; the chicken broth was light and paired nicely with the soft noodles, and the shio base went well with the shiso (which happens to be my favorite herb). In all, Tsurumen Davis is an absolute must, and it doesn’t hurt that you can double up and go to Yume ga Arukara across the street right after if you’re ready to keep going!
11 Feb 2021 12:42 PM
Sapporo Ramen is a Japanese ramen restaurant with two locations in Cambridge (1815 Massachusetts Ave, Cambridge, MA 02140 and inside of Cambridge HMart at 581 Massachusetts Ave, Cambridge, MA 02139). Currently, they have dine in, take out, and delivery options: UberEats (delivery and pickup), Grubhub (delivery and pickup), Doordash (delivery and pickup/only for 1815 Massachusetts Ave location), Caviar (delivery and pickup/only for 1815 Massachusetts Ave location), and Seamless (delivery).
I ordered the base House Ramen, which is a chicken and vegetable broth ramen with egg noodles and an extra topping of menma (メンマ/fermented bamboo shoots). The ramen itself came with chashu (チャーシュー/braised pork belly), yudetamago (ゆで卵/boiled egg), moyashi (萌やし/mung bean sprouts), nori (海苔/roasted seaweed), corn (とうもろこし), and negi (ネギ/scallions). I enjoyed the ramen as the bowl of broth was filled to the brim before even putting the noodles in, so I think it had a great amount for the cost. I also enjoyed the amount of variety in toppings and vegetables that it came with in its base order, and overall the ramen was tasty.
Though the noodles were a bit stuck together by the time I was home to eat it, that is to be expected with any noodle dishes when delivered so in all I would recommend this location! As a bonus, the location in HMart is great as this is a great dine in option when shopping for Asian food.
18 Dec 2020 1:20 PM
Amateras Ramen is a Japanese ramen restaurant in Downtown (112 South St, Boston, MA 02111). Currently, they have dine in, take out, and delivery options: Grubhub (delivery and pickup) and Seamless (delivery). Their menu has many options, ranging from pork and chicken tonkotsu and paitan broths, to vegetarian miso ramens. I purchased the Yuzu Shio Ramen, a light shio ramen with pork and chicken combination broth, delightfully topped off with Japanese Yuzu (柚子) citrus juice. The ramen itself came with chicken “chashu”, negi (ネギ/scallions), hourensou (ほうれん草/spinach), yudetamago (ゆで卵/boiled egg), menma (メンマ/fermented bamboo shoots), and wakame (ワカメ/seaweed).
This was a personal favorite of mine so far; yuzu is one of my favorite flavors, and the citrus really complemented the lighter shio ramen broth. The toppings were all choices I think went well with a more delicate broth, as none were overpowering, especially the choice of white meat chicken for the “chashu”. Amateras’ proximity to South Station was also great, since I now have a new go-to anytime I’m taking a train in or out of Boston!
04 Dec 2020 12:21 PM
Totto Ramen is a New York chicken paitan ramen restaurant with locations in Allston (169 Brighton Ave, Allston, MA 02134), Somerville (463 Artisan Way, Somerville, MA 02145), and Dorchester (20A District Ave, Boston, MA 02125). Currently, they have dine in, take out, and delivery options: UberEats (delivery and pickup), Grubhub (delivery and pickup), Doordash (delivery and pickup), Caviar (delivery and pickup/only for Allston and Dorchester locations), Postmates (delivery and pickup), and Seamless (delivery).
The soup, a chicken paitan, was rich and savory, and very warming on a chilly day (check out our Instagram story highlights to see my Intern takeover!). It came with straight noodles, along with negi (ネギ/scallions), tamanegi (玉ネギ/onions), nori (海苔/roasted seaweed), kikurage (木耳/wood ear mushrooms) and chashu (チャーシュー/braised pork belly).
I enjoyed the ramen as personally, chicken paitan seems lighter than tonkotsu broth; this was nice for a relatively warmer winter day, and I thoroughly enjoyed my trip out to Allston to acquire the bowl. Totto Ramen also seems to be on the more accessible side of the ramen list so far, offering three locations in the Boston area.
16 Nov 2020 11:50 AM
Migaku is a Kyushu ramen restaurant in Brookline (238 Washington St, Brookline, MA 02445), that specializes in Nagaski-style champon (ちゃんぽん) noodles, which are similar but different from ramen (though Migaku also sells ramen). Currently, they have dine in, take out, and delivery options: UberEats (delivery and pickup), Grubhub (delivery and pickup), Doordash (delivery and pickup), Caviar (delivery and pickup), Seamless (delivery), and calling in (pickup).
Though I do enjoy champon, of which Migaku has a wide variety available, I elected for the “Yakibuta Ramen” instead for the Ramen thematic consistency. The soup was of the chicken and pork tonkotsu (豚骨) variety, and it came with chashu (チャーシュー/braised pork belly), an ajitsuke tamago (味付けゆで卵/marinated boiled egg), moyashi (萌やし/mung bean sprouts), hourensou (ほうれん草/spinach), and negi (ネギ/scallions). Overall, the broth was thick and reminiscent of a non-spicy tan-
tan men (坦々麺/Japanese version of the Chinese dandanmian). I enjoyed the addition of spinach, seeing as it added (a little) sorely missed greens to my usual intake of college student fast foods and cheap meals.
I enjoyed the accessibility of Migaku itself as well, nestled right next to the Brookline Village T station, as well as with the availability of bike lanes in the immediate vicinity. Though I got myself a takeout order for pickup, this is most certainly a ラーメン屋 worth the visit in person, and I can’t wait to come back again!
08 Oct 2020 2:17 PM
Ganko Ittetsu is a Hokkaido Sapporo ramen style restaurant in Brookline (318 Harvard St). They serve Miso (味噌/fermented soybean paste), Shio (塩/salt), and Shoyu (醤油/soy sauce) ramens. Currently, their options are dine in and take out. I bought the Shio-Paitan ramen, with chashu (チャーシュー/braised pork belly), ma-yu (マー油/black garlic oil), and a soft boiled egg (味付け半熟卵). The ramen also comes with menma (メンマ/fermented bamboo shoots), hakusai (白菜/napa cabbage), negi (ネギ/green onions), corn (とうもろこし), and nori(海苔/roasted seaweed). The base soup that Ganko Ittetsu uses is a “double soup” of tonkotsu (豚骨/pork bone broth) and torigara (鶏ガラ/chicken broth), giving it a rich and savory taste.
As with the previous entry, Santouka Ramen, Ganko Ittetsu serves their takeout ramen option with the noodles and soup in separate containers; while this is great for being able to reheat the soup quickly, the noodles sadly clumped together for me due to the commute from the restaurant home. With that being said, this was the most affordable ramen so far in this diary, and you get a good value meal since it is very tasty. It doesn’t hurt that the Japanese market is right across the street if you want to get dessert and/or seconds!
24 Sep 2020 5:46 PM
Santouka Ramen, which has locations in Harvard Square (1 Bow St, Cambridge, MA 02138) and Back Bay (66 Hereford St., Boston, MA 02115), serves Hokkaido’s Asahikawa Tonkotsu Ramen. Currently, they have dine in, take out, and delivery options; UberEats (delivery and pickup), Grubhub (delivery and pickup), the Santouka website (pickup), and calling in (pickup).
I went with the Shio Tonkotsu ramen, but other options include Shoyu (醤油/soy sauce), Miso (味噌/fermented soybean paste), Karamiso (辛味噌/spicy fermented soybean paste), Gomamiso (ごま味噌/sesame fermented soybean paste), Neginanban (ネギ南蛮/spicy onions and jalapeno), and Vegetarian. The ramen comes with ネギ (green onions), メンマ (fermented bamboo shoots), 木耳 (kikurage) mushrooms, two pieces of チャーシュー (chashu/braised pork belly), an 梅干し (umeboshi/pickled plum), and ナルト(naruto/fish cake).
The broth is relatively thin and light, and savory. Though the division of cooked noodles from the soup in their takeout container creates some sticky noodles, it is overall a tasty ramen due to the great broth. Its proximity to the downtown area is also very nice, though there tends to be long lines to get in.
14 Sep 2020 1:24 PM
Oisa Ramen is a 博多 (Hakata) style Ramen store in downtown Boston, only a few blocks away from Faneuil Hall (1 3/4 Broad St, Boston, MA 02109). Currently, they have the options of takeout and build-your-own kits through UberEats (delivery and pickup), Grubhub (delivery and pickup), and Seamless (delivery).
I chose to purchase the Tonkotsu ramen, both because it is my favorite broth, as well as for continuity’s sake. Oisa also has a vegan Shoyu option, as well as a truffle Shoyu option. The ramen came with チャーシュー (chashu/braised pork belly), 味玉 (ajitama/seasoned soft boiled egg), 温泉卵 (onsen-tamago/hot spring egg), green onions, 高菜 (takana/pickled mustard greens), and 紅生姜 (beni-shōga/pickled ginger); both takana and beni-shōga are a staple specific to ramen from Hakata.
The broth also contains a hefty amount of black garlic oil, which you can add your desired amount (so as much as they gave me). In all, for the $14 price tag, I feel like I got a tasty bowl with a good portion size, and plenty of toppings.
17 Aug 2020 6:36 PM
Brooklyn Ramen is a 博多 (Hakata) style Ramen store, which sits in the back corner of the Maruichi Japanese supermarket in Brookline (299 Harvard St., Brookline, MA 02446), has takeout, build-your-own kits, limited dine-in, UberEats (delivery and pickup), Grubhub (delivery and pickup), and Seamless (delivery) options at the moment. The menu includes 塩 (shio/salt based), 醤油 (shoyu/soy sauce based), 豚骨 (tonkotsu/pork short rib broth based), カレー (Japanese curry based) broth ramens, as well as an 油そば (aburasoba/brothless ramen) option. The Maruichi market itself is a treasure trove of snacks and foods that I grew up with, so it serves as a home away from home in the area for me, and I often find myself popping in just to buy pick-me-ups on rainy days.
In this particular visit, I chose to go with the Brooklyn ramen DIY Ramen Kit (Classic Tonkotsu for 2), along with some extra toppings. Here, the noodles are medium thickness egg noodles which you are instructed to boil for 2 minutes; I tend to prefer my ramen to be バリカタ to ハリガネ, or extra hard to extremely hard, so I cooked mine for about 25 seconds (I needed to leave the noodles in the soup while I took photos so I undercooked it slightly more than I would otherwise). I also boiled the tonkotsu broth at the same time to heat it up; once cooked to my preference, the noodles went into the broth in my $10 university student bowl, then did the 盛り付け (arranging the toppings). The kit came with some diced onions (green and red), some corn, 木耳 (kikurage) mushrooms, an 味玉 (ajitama/seasoned soft boiled egg), and a piece of チャーシュー (chashu/braised pork belly). I like to place my onions in the middle and work my way around, so that the pork belly sits at the end closest to me. The only ingredient not included which I added was some ground black pepper and 塩コショウ, a Japanese salt-pepper mix available at Maruichi, H-Mart or Super88.
I found that the tonkotsu broth in the Brooklyn Ramen DIY kit was lighter than other options in Boston; I found this to be familiar and comforting, as my favorite style of Ramen is the lighter tonkotsu broths from Kagoshima, where my family is from. In this tonkotsu, the マー油 (black garlic oil) in the broth accents the sweet flavor of the corn and what I think was a particularly sweet ajitama. The thickness of the noodles matched the thinness of the broth, and chashu is always great. Overall, I really enjoyed this kit; it took less than 15 minutes to make, cost around 15$ for both the soup and noodles (soup is supposed to feed two, but I happened to be craving ramen extra that day), and since you can cook it at your own leisure, you don’t need to worry about the noodles getting soggy or for the soup to be lukewarm when you want to eat.