Some people say that ramen is the new food trend.
With ramen pop-ups and midnight showings and excitement building up for new ramen places, it looks like Boston is eager to be part of the ramen scene. But before it became all trendy, there was one spot I always equated with ramen: Sapporo Ramen at the Porter Square Exchange in Cambridge.
It’s a hidden gem, tucked into little “Japantown” in a nondescript building. When I first moved to Boston, I used to go to the Porter Square Exchange all the time. I loved the unexpected little cluster of Asian restaurants, and my friends and I would gladly wait in line for our chance to sit down at the Japanese places. But it fell off my radar and I didn’t go back there for years, until a few weeks ago when my friend Din and I had a craving for ramen.
At Sapporo Ramen, the soup is made with chicken and vegetable broth that’s cooked for over 10 hours, resulting in a rich-flavored base. But it’s not just soup that makes the ramen, it’s also the noodles, and the noodles at Sapporo are slurpingly long.
The lines are long, too. Don’t expect any fancy atmosphere at Sapporo – this is certainly not O Ya (not even Fish Market). It’s more reminiscent of fast food. Service was brisk; there was only one server and two guys manning the kitchen, but they are all friendly.
But you’re coming for the ramen, not the atmosphere, anyway. And trust me, once the steaming bowl is set in front of you, nothing else will matter.
Din ordered the miso ramen, Sapporo’s original bowl with miso (soy bean paste), pork, nori, corn, and scallions.
I ordered the hot and sour ramen, which was a spicy ramen with egg, tofu, and scallion.
The combination of the spicy soup and soft tofu tasted like the best comfort food, and I know I will be craving a big bowl again when the weather gets much cooler.
We didn’t know how long the ramen would take and we were starving, so we also ordered an appetizer of pork buns. (Don’t mind the sauced thumbmark, that’s me being overeager with ripping away the parchment paper pockets.) They were okay, a little dry, and in my opinion the pork buns don’t hold a candle to the ramen.
Hot, sour, salty, spicy, it’s a filling bowl of goodness that deserves it’s time in the spotlight. I hope the ramen trend is here to stay.
Do you like ramen? What’s your favorite place?