Here are 11 Boston-area noodle shops to try right now
In recent years, Boston has become a serious noodle town, with destinations like Yume Ga Arukara and Yume Wo Katare getting national attention. There are plenty of places to explore for the ramen, hand-pulled Chinese noodles, Thai khao soi, and Vietnamese pho you’ll be craving all winter. Here are 11 to try.
The Fields Corner neighborhood of Dorchester is noodle heaven, filled with great pho restaurants. Will you head to Hien Vuong, Pho Hoa, Pho 2000 . . . ? A good bet is Anh Hong, where the pho is always solid and you’ll find plenty of other delights: the seafood noodle soup hu tieu, brothless vermicelli bowls with all manner of toppings, and more (including the seven-course beef tasting menu the restaurant is best known for).
291 Adams St., Fields Corner, Dorchester, 617-265-8889, www.anhhongboston.com
A Thai restaurant started by expats to give Boston a taste of this complex cuisine beyond gummy, too-sweet takeout pad thai. (As cofounder Nutthachai “Jeep” Chaojaroenpong put it: “We feel bad for Thai food. It should not be represented this way.”) Don’t miss boat noodles, rice noodles in flavorful broth with pork balls and pork rinds, or the Northern Thai dish khao soi, where the noodles come in a rich, coconut-and-curry broth.
195 Elm St., Davis Square, Somerville, 617-718-1759, www.dakzen.com
Ganko Ittetsu This small shop specializing in Japanese ramen is located in Brookline’s Arcade Building. Wedge into a small table or grab a seat at the counter before the open kitchen in the back, then inhale a bowl of chef Ken Iwaoka’s excellent Sapporo-style ramen, made with high-quality Nishiyama noodles. There are several varieties on offer — tantan, shoyu, spicy miso — topped with permutations of pork, egg, corn, seaweed, and bamboo shoots.
318 Harvard St., Coolidge Corner, Brookline, 617-730-8100, www.gankoramen.com
Gene’s Flatbread Cafe Here, chef-owner Gene Wu serves specialties from his native Xi’an. His hand-pulled noodles have gained a cult following; you’ll often see him or a staffer stretching them in-house. Thick, chewy, rustic, the noodles come topped with chili oil, cilantro, and drifts of raw garlic or cumin-laced lamb.
86 Bedford St., Downtown Crossing, Boston, 617-482-1888, www.genescafe.com
Little Big Diner This Newton Centre restaurant from the team behind nearby Sycamore serves up other dishes (see: the stellar green papaya salad), but ramen is a specialty. You’ll find shoyu, miso, and paitan chicken ramen, with some spicy versions too. There’s the Chef’s Ultra Ramen, chock-full of chashu pork, ground pork, chicken thigh, white kimchi, and more. And, if you’re feeling sort of New England-y, check out the pumpkin ramen, with a pumpkin-coconut broth, butternut squash, shiitake mushrooms, pepitas, and crispy kale.
1247 Centre St., Newton, 857-404-0068, www.littlebigdiner.com
Oisa Ramen Chef Moe Kuroki started hosting pop-ups a few years ago in order to share her favorite childhood food, tonkotsu ramen. Oisa, one of downtown’s tiniest lunch spots, is the brick-and-mortar realization of those events. You’ll find truffle shoyu ramen, dashi niku ramen (with beef, an onsen egg, and tempura crunch), Kuroki’s porky favorite tonkotsu ramen, and more.
1¾ Broad St., Financial District, Boston, 617-670-0126, www.oisaramen.com
Pagu Asia meets Spain at this Central Square restaurant, which serves everything from squid ink oyster bao to jamon iberico. But a highlight is the Guchi’s Midnight Ramen, named for the pop-up that gained chef Tracy Chang a local following among the noodle cognoscenti.
310 Massachusetts Ave., Central Square, Cambridge, 617-945-9290, www.gopagu.com
Ruckus A Chinatown noodle house with a hip-hop soundtrack and a quirky/delicious approach to food. There’s plenty of ramen — shoyu with chashu and marinated tofu skin; the spicy Miso Lit! ramen — as well as khao soi, udon with braised short ribs, and black garlic mazemen (brothless ramen) with grilled lamb. You can also add “swag,” from fried chicken to smoked bone marrow butter to grilled corn.
5 Tyler St., Chinatown, Boston, 857-305-3155, www.ruckusboston.com
Santouka The Harvard Square and Back Bay ramen shops are branches of a popular chain from Hokkaido, Japan. Santouka specializes in tonkotsu broth, made from pork bones. But this ramen is very different from the super-size, gloriously porky bowls at Yume Wo Katare. It is a more-refined version that leaves you sated but not stuffed, served in a Muji-esque atmosphere.
1 Bow St., Harvard Square, Cambridge, 617-945-1460; 66 Hereford St., Back Bay, Boston, 857-310-5194; www.santouka-usa.com
Shojo At night, a loud, fun stop for excellent cocktails and upscale, Asian-influenced stoner food in Chinatown. (Don’t miss the Shadowless Fries, wherein poutine meets mapo tofu.) But if you want the tori miso ramen, you’ll have to come at lunch. (You want the tori miso ramen.)
9a Tyler St., Chinatown, Boston, 617-423-7888, www.shojoboston.com
Uni Hey, you up? Consider this your ramen call. A visit to Uni is always a pleasure; chef Tony Messina was a James Beard award finalist this year. But arrive at the Back Bay restaurant during late-night menu hours (Friday and Saturday, 10:30 p.m.-1 a.m.) and you’ll be rewarded with one of the finest bowls around — maybe a more-traditional pork, maybe something unique like Thai basil pesto mazemen. You’re going to order a foie gras bratwurst, too, aren’t you?
370a Commonwealth Ave., Back Bay, Boston, 617-536-7200, www.uni-boston.com