As the leaves turn from green to red and then fall onto the sidewalks you know it’s the start of soup season in New England. Warm pho, ramen, and chowder just hit differently in sweater weather then they do in tank top weather. In our soup guide’s second installment (here’s the first one if you missed it) we dive into more of our favorite spots around Boston to get your fix.
If you are looking for the most authentic Japanese ramen then look no further. Hokkaido Ramen started in Japan in 1988, and after expanding across Asia they have made their way over to the U.S. Now, they have two locations in Boston, one in Back Bay and the other in Harvard Square. The base of their ramen is from boiled pork bones, which give it a rich flavor. They only use these pork bones once to keep the integrity of their flavors. The care and quality from their homemade broths is very clear when you take that first slurp!
So, with many ramen options on the menu– which one should you get? Everyone has their favorite, but we always try to get a place’s speciality, and at Hokkaido that’s the shio ramen. The shio ramen started it all for them in Japan in the 80’s, and it is still one of their best sellers. The broth is white and milky, giving it a salty, creamy flavor. No matter what you get here, you will be walking out with your soul warm and stomach full.
It’s an exciting time for fans of Pho Viet’s, as they have just opened a dedicated storefront– moving out of the legendary Super 88 food court. Just down the street, you can now get their huge bowls of pho and other Vietnamese specialities. Although Dorchester may be “Little Vietnam,” Pho Viet’s can go head-to-head with any of the spots there.
They are generous with the rice noodles, and it feels like there is a never-ending supply in the bottom of the bowl. The rare beef pho is our go-to here (it always delivers). The broth at Pho Viet’s is like the third bowl of porridge in Goldilocks. The flavor is “just right,” so you don’t have to add much chili or hoisin sauce.
If you have not been to the Super 88 in Allston, it’s like the Costco of Asian products. They have aisles of kimchi, walls of ramen, and Lay’s flavors you wouldn’t think of in your wildest dreams. There is also a huge food court and stand-alone ramen shop.
Isshindo translates to “one heart, one ramen,” and you can taste the love in every slurp. The speciality at Isshindo is tonkotsu, a creamy, salty ramen very similar to the broth of Hokkaido. The broth is boiled in pork bone and “specially treated water.” We aren’t sure what that means either, but it translates into bomb ramen. The real star of the show here is their chashu. This is the thinly-sliced pork belly that is a staple in most ramens. Their chashu is made fresh every morning. The experts start by marinating it in soy sauce imported from Japan for a few hours before slowly cooking it. This results in a salty, fatty bite that melts in your mouth. A perfect compliment to the creamy broth of their tonkotsu ramen.