Oisa Ramen & Izakaya Will Pop Up Regularly at Brassica Kitchen
Moe Kuroki has been selling out pop-up dinners ever since she launched Oisa Ramen in 2014. She’s also had her mind set on opening a ramen shop of her own in the Boston area. This summer, she’s a few steps closer to that dream: She has a regular pop-up scheduled at Brassica Kitchen & Café, beginning August 15, and she’s also seriously looking at real estate for her own brick-and-mortar.
Oisa Ramen & Izakaya will pop up every third Monday at the Jamaica Plain restaurant. For the first event, Kuroki is selling tickets in advance for bowls of her signature tonkotsu ramen (as of this post, there are still a few available for the first and third seatings), but she is also developing a menu of Japanese bar snacks for walk-in guests, with shichimi-spiced French fries, a chasu pork chili dog, and more. Check out the bar menu below.
Tickets for the Brassica ramen pop-up also include appetizers hiya-yakko (cold tofu, onion, and ponzu sauce), and hitashi, summer vegetables in a dashi broth, and the meal ends with a sweet slice of matcha mille-feuille with adzuki (sweet red bean). For vegans, or for anyone who simply loves vegetables, like Kuroki does, she also makes a vegetarian, spicy miso soup to order, with advance notice.
Kuroki, a native of Fukuoka, Japan, began making her own pork broth with skinny, straight noodles, her hometown ramen style, after becoming pregnant with her first child. She is a MassArt-trained artist, not a chef.
“As I have made family of my own, I started to think of my family in Japan and my childhood,” she says. “I needed to have something to feel at home, and ramen, my favorite hometown food, became a craving. So, I decided to make my own. I’ve always liked cooking, and I liked the challenge of making something that has little recipes to follow.”
She describes the process as “like trying to find a unicorn. You can’t really look up the recipe, so I just started experimenting,” she says. Kuroki enlisted the help of her husband, Mike Betts, a private chef who has worked at Ken Oringer’s Clio, and she has learned from many friends in the industry over the course of her two years of pop-ups at places like La Brasa, Snappy Ramen, and Shojo.
Brassica Kitchen co-owner and chef Jeremy Kean and Oisa Ramen’s Moe Kuroki.
Now, she hand-makes her own noodles at Shojo, using chef Mark O’Leary’s equipment, and with his guidance. An alum of O Ya, JM Curley, and cofounder of the former Guchi’s Midnight Ramen pop-up, O’Leary is a mentor to Kuroki, she says.
“Making this humble bowl of soup lets me feel close to Fukuoka and serving it in Boston, I feel that I have found my family,” Kuroki says.
Now, it’s time to build a home for that “family.” Kuroki has looked at a potential restaurant space (she declined to say where, as no lease has been signed), and plans to launch a crowdfunding campaign later this year to help make a restaurant a reality.
“One brick at the time, and I will need so many,” she says. “Because I struggle to find a place to fit in and always felt like an odd person even in Japan, I want to make this dream come true so I can have a home for people like me and for all.”
And in the meantime, she just wants to make you a really tasty dinner. Follow Oisa Ramen & Izakaya on social media for future Brassica ticketing information, as well as other pop-ups.
Oisa Ramen & Izakaya, every third Monday beginning August 15, seatings at 5:30, 7, and 8:30 p.m., Brassica Kitchen & Café, 3710 Washington St., Jamaica Plain, Facebook.
Oisa Izakaya Menu
**à la carte offered through the night.**
Spicy seven spice French fries
Age dashi Tofu
Fried tofu with mushroom and kombu dashi
Beef, beni-shoga, rice
Fried summer vegitables, rice
Chasu Chili Dog
Chilli with pork, cabbage