Where to Find the Best Ramen in Boston Right Now
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With winter coming, so too are hankerings for hot bowls of ramen. But where to start slurping? After all, the dish is represented by an endless assortment of regional variations, from a silky-salty shio broth from Sapporo to a rich and porky soup from Fukuoka. Boston has definitely enjoyed a ramen renaissance in recent years, and we’re now brimming with bowls of all kinds, so here are some of our favorites—entries that are catching our eye right now, as well as COVID-era updates on availability at our all-time tops. [Last update: December 9, 2020]
Ebisuya Noodle House
If Ebisuya’s ramen is top-class, maybe it’s because chef-owner Hideki Hiromoto “went to ramen school.” He was trained by the manufacturers of the machines that help make his noodles. Regardless, the results get an A-plus. The three varieties—shoyu, miso, and spicy miso—spectacularly marry fish and chicken bone broth to tender slices of braised pork belly, soft boiled egg, and fermented bamboo shoots at this year-old Malden joint, a spinoff of Hiromoto’s Japanese market in Medford.
64 Summer St., Malden, 781-605-2810, ebisuyamalden.com.
Shabu & Mein
Choice is a beautiful thing. So we tip our hat to Shabu & Mein, an offshoot of the local line of Fuji Japanese restaurants, for giving us options when it comes to ramen: You can pick your noodle from yam, vermicelli, udon, and other options, and toss in a ton of add-ons—from stir-fried Wagyu to different mushrooms. When it comes to the specialty bowls, there’s not a loser in the lot. And here’s one more decision you should make: Toss in some excellent sake, beer, wine, or Thai iced tea to your takeout order.
148 1st St., Cambridge, 617-577-7888, shabumein.com.
This just-opened Chinatown joint comes from the team behind nearby Tora Japanese Restaurant, where the menu covers kaisen don, maki, poke bowls, and more. Tora Ramen, by contrast, focuses on—well, ramen. You’ll find shoyu, miso, and kuro varieties, among others, although there are a few minor detours on the menu: cheesy pork belly donburi, for instance, as well as apps like black garlic-battered fried chicken.
99 Harrison Ave., Boston, 857-233-4680, facebook.com.
Nothing at Uni is totally traditional—and that’s why we love it. One longtime menu highlight is chef Tony Messina’s cacio e pepe-style ramen: It’s not a bowl, but rather a glorious helping of noodles in miso butter with pecorino cheese. Nor will you eat in a conventional setting. Rather, Uni, which is housed inside the Eliot Hotel, is now using guest rooms as semi-private dining suites for parties of up to six guests. Messina won last year’s James Beard award for Best Chef: Northeast, and his innovation continues to prove it was well-earned.
370A Commonwealth Ave., Boston, 617-536-7200, uni-boston.com.
The Best Ramen in Boston
You know ’em, you love ’em—and they’re back in action. Here’s our recap of the best places to find ramen in Boston, with details on the availability of takeout, delivery, and on-site dining. Watch this space for more updates!
Status: Temporarily closed until December 17.
Descend a few stairs into this sunny little shop, located around the corner from South Station, to slurp whichever type of soup suits your style: Soy sauce-bolstered shoyu, lightly salty shio, and rich and porky tonkotsu are all excellent here. For a brothless option, the same springy noodles are well-matched with miso-seasoned ground pork and raw egg yolk.
112 South St., Boston, 617-956-4068, amateras-ramen.com.
Ganko Ittetsu Ramen
Status: Open daily for outdoor dining and takeout.
After working at numerous pan-Japanese spots around Boston, chef-owner Ken Iwaoka honed in on ramen at his first solo restaurant inside the Coolidge Corner Arcade (where he also has a takoyaki shop called Gantetsu-Ya). Iwakoa specializes in Sapporo-style soup, characterized by broth bolstered by wok-caramelizing the tare (aromatic sauce, like shoyu or miso) instead of simply mixing it with the dashi (liquid base). Every option is flavorful, but we’re particularly keen on the nutty, sesame-spiked tan tan bowl.
318 Harvard St., Brookline, 617-730-8100, gankoramen.com.
Status: Open Tuesday through Sunday for indoor and outdoor dining, takeout, and delivery.
The “funky chicken” ramen has been a staple on the menu since chef Tim Cushman’s rollicking izakaya first amped up the Fenway dining scene in 2015. For very good reason: The umami, koji-marinated chicken highlights the kitchen’s robata-grill program, and the light, fragrant, and deeply satisfying broth proves that the James Beard Award-winning chef takes soup as seriously as he takes his sushi rice at O Ya. There’s also a spicy miso ramen on the menu, which bolsters the same chicken-based broth with tangy hacho miso, spicy ground pork, and tempura-fried kernels of sweet corn.
1271 Boylston St., Boston, 617-670-0507, hojokoboston.com.
Status: Open Wednesday through Sunday for takeout.
It was prime ramen season—the deep doldrums of wintertime—in 2019 when this spot finally replaced Medford-bound Pikaichi inside Allston’s Super 88 market. The new ramen shop has proven itself a worthy replacement, with super-rich bowls ranging from light but velvety pork tonkotsu, to vegetarian-friendly noodle soups with pleasantly sweet and acidic tomato broth.
1 Brighton Ave. #16, Allston, 617-987-0201, isshindoramen.com.
Status: Open daily for indoor dining, takeout, and delivery.
OK, so this South Boston bar—best known for stacked pancakes and more daily brunch offerings—might not be top-of-mind when a noodle craving hits. But chef Nick Dixon’s team is ladling up rotating ramen specials every Thursday night, which range from traditional (pork and chicken shoyu ramen with char siu pork belly and roasted corn) to the… less so: (“Roman Ramen,” with a pork-and-Parmesan broth, porchetta, roasted tomato, cremini mushrooms, Calabrian chili paste, scallions, and a soft egg). #RamenThursdays are definitely worth checking out.
425 W. Broadway, South Boston, 617-765-8636, lincolnsouthboston.com.
Little Big Diner
Status: Open daily for indoor dining and takeout.
Opened in early 2016 by Sycamore chef-owner Dave Punch and his former sous chef, Daniel Scott, this fun little noodle shop is as good as any reason to visit Newton Centre. Make the suburban trek for Scott’s paitan chicken ramen in particular, which is creamy and complex thanks to an addition of just enough schmaltz (it’s not too greasy), and a hearty topping of char siu-style grilled chicken thigh.
1247 Centre St., Newton, 857-404-0068, littlebigdiner.com.
Status: Currently open Monday through Saturday for takeout and delivery; slated to close at the end of 2020 and return in pop-up form in 2021.
As a pop-up outfit, self-taught chef Moe Kuroki elevated Boston’s ramen scene with her soulful rendition of the milky, porky, burnt-garlic-spiked tonkotsu broth from her childhood in Fukuoka, Japan. But when she opened a standing-room-mostly storefront in early 2018, daily availability of her “smoky shoyu” instantly made it a signature bowl, too: Long-simmered vegetables and a topping of truffled mushrooms lend deeply layered flavors to this surprisingly vegan-friendly revelation.
1 3/4 Broad St., Boston, 617-670-0126, Instagram.
Status: Open Wednesday through Saturday for takeout and delivery.
Chef-owner Tracy Chang was part of the now-defunct pop-up Guchi’s Midnight Ramen, arguably Boston’s original real ramen forebear. At her idiosyncratic, Spanish-Japanese-very Cambridge restaurant, it’s a menu staple (no midnight line required), alongside rotating bowls like the so-called Ramenara, with ibérico ham and Manchego cheese; and a seasonal, Maine uni-laded mazeman (brothless ramen).
310 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, 617-945-9290, gopagu.com.
Status: Open for takeout lunch and dinner on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Fridays, and Saturdays; open for takeout lunch only on Sundays; closed on Mondays and Thursdays.
Chef Taka Akatsu’s custom-made noodles and varied broths have been a mainstay on the Boston ramen scene for nearly a decade. In 2018, his Allston shop relocated to Medford, where he’s still serving up inexpensive ($9) bowls of miso, shio, shoyu, and vegetarian-friendly ramen. Try the yuzu-spiked shio style: The addition of citrus is a clean and creative counterpoint to the salty broth.
123 Boston Ave., Medford, 781-777-2555, pikaichiramen.com.
Status: Currently closed.
The Shōjo team took their winning ramen and cranked it up to 11 at their lively, hip hop-fueled, pan-Asian noodle offshoot, which hit Chinatown in 2017. Executive chef Mike Stark’s house-made noodle game is strong, including superiorly springy squiggles for the Tokyo style and spicy “Miso Lit!!!” ramen bowls, as well as wide rice noodles for stir-fries, and must-slurp udon.
5 Tyler St., Boston, 857-305-3129, ruckusboston.com.
Status: Both locations open daily for indoor dining, takeout, and delivery.
This Japanese import specializes in long-simmered pork shio broth, lightly seasoned and silky, and a fine palette for chewy pork chashu and a soy-soaked egg. If you like spice, try the tonkotsu kara miso: The robust broth is kicked up and bolstered with just enough fishy bonito dashi for a bold and balanced bowl. Expect to wait for a seat at both Santouka’s pocket-sized Back Bay outpost and its large Harvard Square location, which is popular among students and families.
1 Bow St., Cambridge, 617-945-1460; 66 Hereford St., Boston, 857-310-5194, santouka-usa.com.
Status: Open daily for indoor dining, takeout, and delivery.
The name says it all: This Jamaica Plain joint, which recently debuted a second location in Brookline, has mastered all kinds of broth, from spicy miso and tan tan, to Thai-style khao soi and steaming Vietnamese-style pho. Don’t let the breadth of the menu intimidate, though; it’s all quite good. For ramen lovers, there is a traditional tonkotsu, shoyu, and more, including a full-flavored vegetarian option.
779 Centre St., Jamaica Plain, 617-477-9805; 401 Harvard St., Brookline, 617-566-2100, soupshacknoodles.com.
Status: All locations open daily for indoor dining, takeout, and delivery.
This New York City chain has grown its Boston-area presence to three locations—which is great news, as its thick and hearty, chicken-based paitan-style broth is eminently satisfying and brimming with Totto’s signature straight noodles. It also offers a vegetarian-friendly version, built with seaweed and shiitake mushrooms.
169 Brighton Ave., Allston, 617-202-5075; 20A District Ave., Dorchester (South Bay Center), 617-326-6396; 463 Artisan Way, Assembly Row, Somerville, 617-764-2737, tottoramen.com.
Status: Open Wednesday through Sunday for indoor dining, takeout, and delivery.
Self-taught chef Masuo Onishi might very well shutter this restaurant after 1,000 days (it opened April 18, 2018). He reveals a new bowl of noodles, inspired by a distinctive chapter of his life, every 200 days. Sound like a bit much? Just be here now, and enjoy the ramen. The menu always features a Tokyo-style shoyu bowl and creamy paitan, both full of scratch-made noodles and topped with the best chashu pork around. Onishi marked Day 400 in late 2019, so you have time.
420 Highland Ave., Somerville, 617-764-0588, Instagram.
Yume Wo Katare
Status: Open Wednesday through Sunday for takeout.
A visit to this classroom-like, Porter Square noodle mecca is a study in excess, from the inevitably long line for a seat, to the overloaded bowl of pork-fatty, garlicky, jiro-style ramen, to the ceremonial sharing of dreams at the end of the meal. Arrive hungry and with an open mind, and you will be rewarded. Founder Tsuyoshi Nishioka also operates the can’t-miss udon shop, Yume Ga Arukara, located in the nearby Porter Exchange food court.
1923 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, yumewokatare.com.