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PROJECT TAKEOUT

3 places we supported this week

Want to order from local, independent restaurants? Here are some suggestions from Globe staff

Dragon Breath ramen from Red White.

RED WHITE, Boston

One of the things I missed the most when I stopped eating meat was ramen. And I mean all kinds of ramen — from almost painfully spicy Samyang Buldak instant noodles to steaming bowls of satisfyingly porky, black sesame tantanmen ramen in the H Mart food court. And my breakup with meat happened long-before I ever braved the (presumably very worth it) wait at Yume Wo Katare.

Yes, vegetarian ramen exists — but replicating that creamy, layered broth is near-impossible without some fatty (and/or fishy) goodness. Many ramen joints appear to agree. But Red White, a vegan fast casual restaurant in Back Bay, seems to be the exception. The Newbury Street ramen shop — like most respectable ramen shops — slings a very limited menu of vegan hot noodles, currently serving four types of ramen and a spicy, brothless, mazemen-style ramen dish called Mix Well.

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Takeout from Red White.Rachel Raczka/Globe staff

My household ordered four different Red White ramens — the dreamy sesame Masterpiece, curry-tinged Tokyo Masala, peppery and potent Dragon Breath, and a Mix Well, because I wanted leftovers. This was not a difficult feat, as each bowl is generously portioned and arrives in clever recyclable packaging that separates the noodles and crisper toppings outside of the broth. We also ordered miso avocados ($4.80) — delectable and torched with three types of miso from three separate corners of Japan — and sides of their housemade vegan mayo (spot on for Kewpie) and chili oil for drizzling.

While #noodz are grand, true soup aficionados know the real star of ramen is the broth. I called Red White in an attempt to decode the velvety broths they offer, but was kindly told it was a secret. (Of course.) But its credentials check out: it’s the masterpiece of Chef Keita Ueki, a Japanese ramen master who spent a year and a half perfecting his plant-based broth.

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The Masterpiece was my favorite — which is the perfect blend of textures, with chewy bamboo shoots and roasted corn, topped with a generous scoop of soy and tofu-based soboro, a crumbled savory protein. I opted to upgrade to their Special offering, adding vegan cheese from Greece and crispy onions for extra crunch. The shredded cheese — as is the crux for most vegan cheeses — does not melt, but it does give the soup a sinful, umami punch that’s reminiscent of the gooey Kraft singles I’d melt on top of steaming bowls of Shin Ramyun. And importantly, the noodles are springy and stay slurpable even when reheated the next day.

It’s hard to believe that these soups are vegan. Even the Mix Well, without a broth to hide behind, is a tough call because it’s so thickly coated in meaty soboro, thinly sliced onion, and slick garlic oil. It’s delicious. The cliché of vegan “bird food” is far behind us — or so I’d like to think — but Red White’s unbelievable, believable ramen is enough to turn any meat eater into a convert.

Red White, 294 Newbury St., Boston, 857-277-0609, redwhiteboston.com. Entrees $11.95-$14.95.

RACHEL RACZKA

BrassicaDavid Abel/Globe staff

BRASSICA, Jamaica Plain

Last month, when I walked into a favorite restaurant in Jamaica Plain, it felt like entering an alternative universe, as if Omicron wasn’t burning through the city.

Through two masks, I could still smell their signature dishes, including their perfectly rendered fried chicken. Through fogged-up glasses, I could see people dining at tables, enjoying a night out with friends, sans masks.

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As I waited for my takeout order at Brassica Kitchen + Cafe, I watched the chefs behind the five-seat bar, preparing what they describe as their “pretense-free” fermented dishes.

As strange as it felt to be inside a restaurant, after weeks of hiding at home from the raging virus, it was reassuring to see what appeared to be a great neighborhood restaurant still going strong.

But the reality was more complicated.

“We got shattered,” said Jeremy Kean, one of four owners of Brassica, a Latin word for the family of leafy plants like cabbage.

After the initial toll of lost staff and lost revenue during the initial months of the pandemic, business began to resume some normalcy, especially with the help of takeout and outdoor seating.

But when Omicron hit in the depths of winter, their business plummeted again.

“Around November, we started feeling a big die down,” Kean said. “Now, we’re dead.”

A typical night now brings in about half the customers they had before the pandemic. Takeout has helped. “We’re just holding on, waiting for this to pass,” Kean said.

Ozzie devours a grilled cheese from Brassica.David Abel/Globe staff

The lack of business has led them to be more creative, incorporating everything from cauliflower stems and the discarded edges of lasagna noodles into various dishes. “We try to have zero waste,” Kean said.

On the night I visited in January, about half the tables were taken, which seemed like an impressive turnout, given the circumstances and my reclusiveness.

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When I returned home with an assortment of their tasty dishes — a bucket of fried chicken, fried rice, Brussel sprouts, Fettuccini, and frites — my family lapped it up and was happy.

Brassica, 3710 Washington St., Jamaica Plain, 617-477-4519, brassicakitchen.com. Brunch $8-$16, Dinner entrees $12-$32.

DAVID ABEL

Takeout from Hundred Miles in Quincy.Shirley Leung/Globe staff

HUNDRED MILES, Quincy

If you find yourself in a Chinese takeout rut, check out Hundred Miles in Quincy.

It’s the newest Chinese restaurant in the President Plaza strip mall off Hancock Street. Many people come here to shop at the Kam Man Foods grocery store, but there’s quite a collection of casual Asian restaurants: China Pearl and South Garden (Chinese), So Gong Dong Tofu & B.B.Q. (Korean), Taiyou Shabu & Sushi (Japanese) and Pho Countryside (Vietnamese).

We’ve tried them all over the years. Now comes along Hundred Miles with its industrial decor catering to a younger crowd and anyone who craves spicy Sichuan cuisine. Much of the Chinese food in America is Cantonese style — think sweet and sour pork, roasted barbecue pork, and beef chow fun.

Sichuan food is known for its mala flavor — “ma” means numb and “la” mean spicy. The dishes are often awash in peppercorns, which are indeed mouth-numbing spicy.

Worried the dishes will be too hot to handle? Hundred Miles knows how to keep the spice in check without losing the flavor.

Our favorite entrees were the classics: diced fried chicken with Sichuan peppers, shredded lamb with longhorn peppers, dry-sauteed string beans with pork, and twice-cooked pork belly.

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Takeout from Hundred Miles in Quincy.Shirley Leung/Globe staff

Poached fish in a chili sauce is another classic, though we wish the fish was of higher quality. The dan dan noodles were a little different than what we’re used to but still addictive in a delicate peanut sauce with a hint of sweetness.

Among the appetizers, we would skip the xiao long bao (pork soup dumplings), but we would order the sliced beef wrapped in scallion pancake again (and again).

One item that Yelp reviewers raved about was the duck fried rice. It’s not on the menu, but ask for it and you shall receive. The rice, tossed with bits of roasted duck, is a delight. One more pro-tip: Order lunch, and you’ll get a chance to sample a variety of dishes at $10.95 each.

If you’re craving Chinese food but want to break out of your routine, go to Hundred Miles. You’ll find plenty to explore.

Hundred Miles, 217 Quincy Ave., Quincy, 617-302-2866, 100milesquincy.com. Appetizers $7-$15, entrees $16-$32.

SHIRLEY LEUNG

Takeout from Hundred Miles in Quincy.Shirley Leung/Globe staff



David Abel can be reached at david.abel@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @davabel. Shirley Leung is a Business columnist. She can be reached at shirley.leung@globe.com.