Here’s Your Chance to Get Your Hands on OISA Ramen

A husband-and-wife team are creating slurp-worthy tonkotsu in a new series of pop-up dinners.
ramen

Photo by Heath Robbins for “Everybody loves Boston

Ramen lovers take note: there’s a new brand of tonkotsu in town.

Inspired the intensely porky bowls of ramen from her childhood in Fukuoka, Japan, Moe Kuroki began several years worth of experimentation with her own scratch-made tonkotsu in her kitchen in Boston. Working with her husband Mike Betts, a CIA-trained personal chef who formerly worked under Ken Oringer at Clio, the duo has finally prepared a worthy scion to influences like Fukuoka’s legendary Isshintei and New York’s Ippudo. Now the two are unleashing their small-batch ramen in a 50 bowl pop-up on November 18.

“I grew up in Fukuoka where tonkotsu ramen is the ramen,” Kuroki says. “I’ve always craved it since I’ve been here, but there’s really none in Boston. I was so excited when Ippudo came to New York and we did the thing where we went and waited in line. And it’s great. It has the same noodles and everything. It felt like home, but we can’t couldn’t keep spending that kind of money just to have ramen noodles. It defeats the purpose. Ramen should be fast and inexpensive.”

For her upcoming pop-up taking place at Martin’s Coffee Shop in Brookline, Kuroki says she’s charging more than she would care to, but each individual bowl is so labor-intensive, there wasn’t an alternative. Besides the pork bone-based tonkotsu broth, which often requires a full day of simmering and skimming, Kuroki will be making and hand-kneading each batch of noodles, a process she says takes up to 15 minutes per bowl.

“It’s been a really long endeavor trying to find the right recipe [for the noodles],” Kuroki says. “Yeah, you can go to Super 88 and buy noodles, which is what a lot of restaurants do, but frankly I felt they weren’t good enough. And I enjoy the process as much as it hurts my back and neck. It’s physically hard work. And I’m not a wimpy girl either. I think I might be the only one crazy enough to spend that much time making noodles by hand, but I do think it makes a big difference.”

The OISA ramen pop-up will have four seatings spaced out in 30-minute blocks starting at 5:30 p.m. Each seating will serve 12 diners in Martin’s limited diner space. Cost per guest is $25 and includes salad, gyoza, dessert, and ramen.

Kuroki says that the reception on the Brookline dinner will help determine how aggressive she’ll be in future pop-ups. Reasonable frequency will also hinge on finding a way to alleviate the time constraints of her noodle recipe. Currently, Kuroki is pursuing a partnership with New York’s Sun Noodle, the same company which collaborates with David Chang (Momofuku) and Ivan Orkin (Ivan Ramen).

“I’m curious to see what this will grow into,” Kuroki says. “I’m going to try and do it as much as I possibly can. But my dream is really to own my own ramen shop in Boston, a tiny little place that’ll be a home away from home.”

$25 per person; Nov. 18, Martin’s Coffee Shop, 35 Harvard St., Brookline; oisaramen.com.


Christopher Hughes Chris Hughes, Food Editor at Boston Magazine chughes@bostonmagazine.com