The franchising company responsible for bringing a popular, Japanese ramen shop to the Boston area has a new concept to test on our shores: Tokyo Meat Fried Rice is planning a Boston-area expansion, and local lunch-goers can get an early taste of its unique menu this week.
Plenty USA, the company that imported Santouka Ramen to Harvard Square and Back Bay, is working with the fried rice brand, and helped coordinate a two-day takeover of select Chicken & Rice Guys trucks. Tokyo Meat Fried Rice will dish out its signature pork fried rice in Dewey Square on Friday, October 21, and at Harvard University Science Center on Sunday, October 23.
The pop-ups are a Yelp Secret Menu event, where subscribers in-the-know can get their fried rice for free. For non-Yelpers, the meal is $7. In Harvard, the pop-up is also a fundraiser for the American Cancer Society.
Tokyo Meat Fried Rice has 10 locations in its home city, says Nao White, a Boston-based business strategist with various Japanese brands. Tokyo-based chef Kousuke Izawa and the fried rice company’s vice president Taiki Iwasaki are in town to lead the pop-ups. The chefs are looking for feedback from Boston food lovers, White says.
“Looking at how successful Santouka is, and how much potential Boston might have, they decided to identity their first [U.S.] location in Boston,” she says.
Specializing in a simple, mix-as-you-go riff on wok-fried rice, Tokyo Meat Fried Rice piles lightly-seasoned rice and thinly-sliced leeks atop a rich stew of pork and a slow-simmered sauce. The chicken-based sauce is made similarly to Santouka’s long-cooking pork bone ramen broth: Bones simmer for more than 20 hours for deep flavor. The savory sauce is reduced further to thicken it beyond the soup’s consistency, White says.
“They just want to focus on the sauce. The fried rice is very, very simple. They didn’t want to put too much vegetables and meat in rice at all,” she says, adding that when Tokyo Meat Fried Rice opens a storefront, it will offer a vegetarian version. “It’s a unique way to eat fried rice.”
The brand’s Tokyo shops are set up like Santouka Back Bay, White says, with a streamlined menu and just a few seats, with guests expected to come in for a quick, inexpensive bite to eat and be on their way. Plenty USA is currently searching for appropriate Boston or Cambridge properties for Tokyo Meat Fried Rice.
The franchising company is also in the throes of confirming a Seaport location for a “ramen coliseum,” a large location subleased into several small restaurants, each with its own kitchen and dining area. White says to expect more details on the one-stop smorgasbord of Japanese quick-service dining in the early spring.
Tokyo Meat Fried Rice will have just 200 portions available at each of the Boston-area pop-ups, so get in line early if you want to give it a try.
Friday, October 21, 11 a.m.-2 p.m., Dewey Square Square Park Plaza, between Congress and Summer streets and Atlantic Ave., Boston.
Sunday, October 23, 11 a.m.-2 p.m., Harvard University Science Center, 1 Oxford St., Cambridge.
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