Everybody Loves Ramen

Here’s where you can find the very best versions, including right in your own kitchen.

By Leah Mennies | Boston Magazine |

best ramen restaurant bostonPhoto by Heath Robbins

Over the past year, Boston has fallen for ramen—the Japanese noodle-based soup that typically conjures up images of late-night college munchies, but that, when made from scratch, can hold its own on a high-end menu. The local catalyst for ramen’s newfound respectability? Guchi’s Midnight Ramen, a side project of Yukihiro Kawaguchi, an O Ya chef, and Tracy Chang, an O Ya alum. Last year they began serving after-hours bowls filled with house-made noodles and an umami-rich pork broth (pictured above) at highbrow locales like Bondir. Today, tickets for Guchi’s events sell out in less than a minute, and Kawaguchi’s ramen has become, arguably, the most in-demand dish in town. Suddenly, restaurants all over town are adding ramen to their menus. Here’s where you can find the very best versions—including, by the way, right in your own kitchen.

The Best of the Broths

TJ Connelly, the music director at Fenway Park, has a quirky side gig: sampling every bowl of ramen in Boston, New York, and beyond. (He’s chronicling his journey with the Twitter hashtag #ramenquest.) When he can’t get ramen from Guchi’s, these are his four other must-have bowls in the Boston area.

Photos by Connor Sumner

best ramen restaurant boston

SHRIMP + TOFU RAMEN
Myers + Chang, South End
Lunch Only

TJ Says: “Thanks to ingredients like fermented tofu, scallion butter, and nori, this version is anchored by a uniquely rich, funky broth. Thinner noodles make for quick slurping.”

best ramen restaurant boston

SPICY MISO RAMEN
Sapporo Ramen, Porter Square
Lunch + Dinner

TJ Says: “The blend of simple noodles, spicy ground pork, corn, scallions, and warming broth is comfort food at its height—and a great starting point for those trying real ramen for the first time.”

best ramen restaurant boston

JIRO RAMEN
Yume Wo Katare, Porter Square
Dinner Only

TJ Says: “The huge bowl is filled with a chewy mix of wheat noodles and bean sprouts in a savory pork broth—all topped with slices of tender, fatty pork. Arrive hungry, and say yes to extra garlic.”

best ramen restaurant boston

VEGGIE RAMEN
Uni, Back Bay
Thursday to Saturday After 11 p.m.

TJ Says: “Vegetarian ramen typically tastes like an afterthought, but Uni’s version—with a broth fortified with dried mushrooms, white miso, and Parmesan rinds—is the best I’ve ever found.”

Using Your (Packaged) Noodle

best ramen restaurant bostonPhoto by Heath Robbins

When Toro and Coppa chef-owner Jamie Bissonnette isn’t in the mood to make his own ramen at home, he likes to dress up a package of store-bought noodles. Here are his go-to ingredients (all of which can be found at Asian grocers like H Mart).

• Neoguri spicy seafood-style Korean ramen
• Chinese black vinegar
• Dried mushrooms
• Fish sauce
• Fried shallots
• Hot sesame oil
• Dried shrimp
• Togarashi seasoning
• Pickled green peppercorns
• Thai bird chilies
• Soy-cured egg
• Quail eggs
• Boiled lotus root
• Bamboo shoots

All styling by Jessica Weatherhead/Team.

For more on Asian cuisine in Boston, check out our complete guide to Asian cuisine: Umami Rising.

  • Rochelle

    I thought this article would be a little more expansive. There are so many more restaurants serving Ramen than just the five listed above.

    My personal favorite is Pikaichi located in the Super 88 on Packard’s Corner in Allston. They have a variety of ramen styles such as a shio, shoyu, miso and a new super spicy broth called jigoku. They also have yuzu-flavored broth as well. :) Hokkai shio is my favorite. They have excellent, friendly and quick service and they also advertise that they use more noodles than the average ramen bowl would have.

    Yakitori Zai, a fairly new Japanese bbq restaurant that is located in the South End, also just started their Ramen Weekends. They serve 3 types of ramen. Chicken (a really flavorful broth, served with a poached egg and shredded chicken. A smaller portion is also served in the regular dinner menu), tonkatsu (rich, pork-based brother with thinner noodles and slow-cooked pork belly) and tomato (an interesting take on ramen, the toppings consist of smoked yellow tomatos, spinach and shredded hot pepper and broth is thick with hints of oregano. It’s almost like a fusion of ramen and spaghetti. It’s so good).
    Other random ramen places to mention:
    -Mentei off of Newbury on Hereford St. (Not too bad. Pretty cheap but no wow factor.)
    -Yumy’s on Harvard Ave. (Not the greatest in my opinion. All of their broths lack in depth).

  • Jeff

    Most of these are pretty good, but Boston has yet to open a Ramen place as good as Ippudo or Minca in NYC, much less any place that I’ve been to in Japan**. I haven’t tried that new yakitori in the South End yet, but I know they have a Ramen bowl that I’m excited to check out. Still waiting for something that lives up to high standards for a decent price. (**I don’t count Gucci because they’re an extremely difficult pop-up.)