Now hear this: unless you’re a financially strapped college student, those 10-for-a-buck packs of instant ramen at Shaw’s are no substitute for the real thing. They’re about as Japanese as a can of Spaghetti-os is Italian. (Read: not at all.) For authentic ramen, hit Ken’s Noodle House. Ramen is all they do — big, beautiful, heaping bowls of it. Unlike other Japanese noodles such as soba or udon, ramen is made with alkalized water, giving it a springy look and chewy texture. And ramen gets the kind of loyalty reserved for the Red Sox. On the slim streets of Osaka, Tokyo, and Sapporo, you can bet there’s a grumpy but dedicated oji-san (which means “uncle,” but used here to mean “chef”) who’s labored over his special broth, not to mention proud customers who know their local ramen joint is the best. In Yokohama, there’s even a ramen museum.
Happily, you don’t have to take a 14-hour flight to Japan, just the Green Line to Allston. At Ken’s, you can suck down shoyu (soy sauce; $6.80), shio (salt; $6.80), or the earthy, creamy miso (fermented soy-bean paste; $7.80) ramen all for around six to eight bucks. For a few dollars more, there’s the “caviar” of ramen, Nishiyama ($9.50). It comes all the way from Sapporo — the unofficial ramen capital — on the northen island of Hokkaido. Decorated with green onion, bamboo shoots, sliced pork, and nori (dried seaweed), it’s a gorgeous yet blue-collar meal that might just be the perfect trifecta of taste, quantity, and price. Throw in the fact that slurping your ramen is not only accepted but encouraged, and you have an intriguing date place.
Ken’s Noodle House, One Brighton Avenue, Allston | Open Thur - Tue, 1:45 am - 9 pm | 617.254.5524.
: On The Cheap
, Culture and Lifestyle
, Food and Cooking
, Ethnic Cuisines