Hub Hall is here at last — after a nearly yearlong delay, the 16,000-square-foot food hall debuted next to TD Garden in September. It houses plenty of local favorites, ranging from Mike’s Pastry to Sullivan’s Castle Island. Newer to the lineup: Momosan Ramen, from “Iron Chef” star Masaharu Morimoto, serving ramen, sushi, and hamachi tacos.
However, it’s definitely not local: Morimoto owns restaurants around the world, including Momosans in New York and Seattle. I caught up with the busy chef on a quick end-of-week visit.
So, what do you think of Boston?
I’ve been looking forward to being a part of Hub Hall and offering the Momosan experience to locals, tourists, and TD Garden attendees since Patina [Restaurant Group] first approached me with the idea. We’ve had a lot of success and enjoyed working with them in our Morimoto Asia location at Disney Springs, so when the opportunity to work with Patina came up again in such a great location in the city of Boston, we knew it was the right fit. I’m a big sports fan, and I find the sports culture in Boston so exciting. I’ve gotten to throw the first pitch at Fenway, and now my new restaurant shares a roof with the Bruins and the Celtics.
What other local restaurants have you enjoyed?
I haven’t had the chance yet to explore as much of Boston’s vibrant food scene as I’d like, with my busy travel schedule, but in the past, I have enjoyed dining at Blue Dragon — Ming Tsai is a good friend of mine. And, when I have time, I love visiting Mike’s Pastry for a delicious cannoli. Additionally, I’ve heard great things about Contessa at The Newbury and Coquette at Omni Boston and look forward to trying them.
I have another friend over in Natick who owns Oga’s … that I love. It’s a sushi spot that honors the traditions of authentically made Japanese dishes that have been passed down for generations while also expertly showcasing the many ways that food is evolving in modern Japan.
In the future, I also plan on venturing over to Boston’s Chinatown to check out all the Asian eateries that it has to offer, focusing on everything from dumplings and dim sum to hot pot and pho.
For people who’ve never tried your restaurants: What can they expect?
Momosan is all about enjoying ramen, grilled skewers, beer, sake, and wine in a fun, casually energetic environment. I chose the name Momosan because it’s my nickname and reflects the relaxed atmosphere I want associated with the restaurant.
I think people often link Japanese food with a lot of formal rules, which can be intimidating. I wanted to create something more approachable for consumers to enjoy, whether a guest wants to come sit at the bar for a quick meal before catching their train at North Station or grab a bite to go from the sushi counter, opening soon, to take home. We offer seven different types of ramen, so there is something for everyone, ranging from a traditional chicken ramen or pork (tonkotsu) to a spicy vegan miso or the spicy tan-tan.
How would you describe these flavors?
I would say that our menu at Momosan includes reimagined contemporary Japanese cuisine, combining both familiar dishes such as ramen, poke, classic sushi rolls (California, shrimp tempura, spicy salmon), and popcorn shrimp with more adventurous items that guests might not have thought to order before, like the hot oil fish carpaccio, Gyutan (grilled sliced beef tongue with sweet garlic soy), and the Peking duck. The duck is one of my favorites that I encourage everyone to try. I also really like the creative freedom that my menu allows. You’ll find unique offerings like hamachi tacos and duck-fat French fries.
You spend a lot of time in New York. Favorite spots in New York City?
You can’t go wrong with the vast selection of restaurants in Koreatown and Chinatown in New York City. A few of my favorites include Hop Kee in Chinatown and Baekjung or New Wonjo in Koreatown.
Last but not least: What makes your ramen so good?
The quality of the noodles is very important. I recommend that everyone eat their ramen as soon as it’s served for the best quality. I developed a noodle with my supplier, Sun Noodle, which does not become soggy as quickly as most. It maintains its texture thanks to a special ratio of powder, flour, and water that we produced. It’s more than just the noodles, though; great ramen is a combination of components, including the bone marrow broth and the fresh ingredients used as toppings, like soy-marinated soft-boiled egg, a spicy yuzu ball, or long-simmered pork chashu. All of these pieces come together to create a flavorful, smooth, and tasty bowl of ramen.