Santouka Ramen: TOKOTSU KARA MISO RAMEN

Place: Hakkaido Ramen Santouka (Boston)

Address: 66 Hereford St, Boston, MA 02115

Website: https://www.santouka-usa.com/

Ramen: Tokotsu Kara Miso Ramen: Robust miso paste and silky broth, with a hint of bonito dashi creates the gentle balance flavor. The spiciness gives a nice kick to the flavor. Served with added soft-boiled egg, corn & butter

Price: $15.00

It was a cold, bright day in Boston and with an hour to kill before heading to the airport, I decided to find myself some local ramen. After a quick buzz online and a few social media recommendations, I ended up visiting the extremely popular Santouka Ramen.

There was a 30-minute wait for lunch as the place is small and very packed. I finally got a table and went for their $15 Lunch Special (a bowl of ramen, with an egg, corn & butter). I went for their spiciest bowl, the Tokotsu Kara Miso Ramen, a solid blend of Tonkotsu pork broth, miso paste and bonito dashi with a kick of chili… of course. I was pleasantly surprised by the mix of flavors, I could taste it all while not being overpowered by one individual taste. The noodles were a perfect al dente, the pork decent and the corn crunchy. Personally I wanted a larger chili kick and my egg was cold on the inside but the flavors were all there and they were enjoyable.

I’d visit Santouka again but I also want to explore what else Boston has to offer in its “ramen game”, but I know there’s a solid bowl there so I’m sure I’ll be back!

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SOURCE: rating_3

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Afuri: YUZURATAN RAMEN

Place: Afuri

Address: 3 Chome-63-1 Sendagaya, 渋谷区 Tokyo 151-0051, Japan

Website: http://afuri.com/

Ramen: Soy sauce based soup with a sophisticated blend of chili spice, garlic & yuzu citrus.

Price: ¥1230

A lovely little joint deep in the heart of Tokyo which always has a line and offers a unique bowl of ramen. What’s makes Afuri a nice change of pace is their liberal use of Yuzu citrus that creates a light, fresh & vibrant bowl of soup. The excellent egg and tasty chashu are still present but the liveliness of the broth cuts through the fat leaving you satisfied yet not overly full. I opted for the Yazuratan Ramen which adds a little chili & garlic heat to the soy-based Citrus broth and that extra level of flavor really brought it to life in my opinion.

I was extremely please with my ramen at Afuri, the zing of the citrus mixed with the fresh ingredients and a hint of spice made for a completely unique bowl to enjoy. I can see this being an absolute winner on those muggy hot Tokyo summer nights!

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SCORE: rating_3

Nojo Ramen Tavern: CHICKEN PAITAN SOY SAUCE RAMEN

Place: Nojo Ramen Tavern

Address: 231 Franklin St, San Francisco, CA 94102

Website: http://nojosf.com/

Ramen: Chicken Paitan Soy Sauce Ramen. Whole slow-braised Chicken leg, blackened Garlic Oil, Nira Chives, red & green onions, dashi egg, fish powder, fried gobo ($18.5) + spice bomb ($1.5)

Price: $20

For those of you who have not read Matt’s review of his meal at NOJO posted below, do so now. We both ate there on the same day, at different times and ordered different things but like Matt, mine was most excellent and this is now my #1 Favorite ramen joint in the Bay Area.

I’ve had Nojo recommended to me by a few folks and I am happy to say that those recommendations were correct. The food is incredible and their ramen is god-tier. I know what you are thinking… chicken ramen? No Tonkotu? Wont that be weak and light. Nope. It’s rich! It’s powerful! It’s flavorful! It’s a must try!

Located in Hayes Valley near City Hall, Nojo is always busy. We got there 15 minutes before it opened and there was already a line. We perused the menu , which all looked excellent, but I knew what I was having before I even sat down, the highly recommended CHICKEN PAITAN SOY SAUCE RAMEN. According to the menu, this chicken/soy based ramen comes with a whole slow-braised chicken leg (what?), blackened garlic oil, green onions & a dashi egg! Now, before the main event, we had some amazing appies: Spicy Chicken Fritters, Yuzu Miso Cucumbers, salted Combu Celery and Tofu & Avocado Salad, all of them were fresh & flavorful and highly enjoyable but enough of that, what about the ramen? Well, what greeted me was a steaming bowl of top-tier excellence.

To tell you how good  this bowl of ramen is, I ate everything! Every noodle, every chive, every last drop of broth. Usually I have a few spoons left over because I just can’t fit anymore into my belly but this time, no way was I going to waste this absolute goodness. The chicken leg was fantastic, crispy skin, “fall of the bone” succulent meat that popped the already flavorful broth into the stratosphere. The fresh mix of onions & chives balanced the richness of the bowl perfectly, the noodles were thick and held the broth well and finally the egg was perfect. Despite its high price tag and daunting giant leg of chicken, this was a 5 star bowl of ramen and one that I have no problem recommending as one of the best bowls of ramen outside of Japan.

My wife tried their spicier CHICKEN PAITAN TAN-TAN SPICY MISO RAMEN which was equally delicious, rich, spicy hot with an amazing hit of sesame, I would heartily recommend that one as well. And based on Matt’s love of the TOMATO PAITAN discussed below, Nojo obviously has three amazing bowls worth experiencing so do yourself a favor and get there for a great visit to flavor town! You won’t be disappointed.

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SCORE: rating_5