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    LOCAL FARE

    Try some real ramen, not that stuff you ate in college

    Stephanie Schorow
    Ramen with homemade noodles at Nagoya in Medford.

    WHO’S IN CHARGE When Yang Huang, owner of Omoto Garden in Abington, set his sights on opening a restaurant on Riverside Avenue in Medford, he knew he wanted to cater to the tastes of young customers.

    It’s a challenge. Medford’s small downtown has become a fertile ground for Asian cuisine, from the longtime Chili Garden (Chinese), to the year-old Sura, (Korean BBQ), to Blue Fuji, (organic Japanese and Asian), to the all-you-can-eat sushi newcomer, Nijiya Sushi.

    So when Nagoya Restaurant opened earlier this summer, Huang put the focus on sushi (with chef Eric Chen), American-style Chinese food, and ramen, steaming bowls of broth with noodles and additions of vegetables, tofu, and meat. Huang is particularly excited about the ramen because he has just installed a new noodle-making machine to insure it will have a fresh, homemade taste.

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    THE LOCALE Behind its modest storefront, Nagoya stretches down a narrow hall to a more spacious dining room, sparely appointed with few flourishes. It’s pleasant but nondescript. Chen mans the sushi bar at the front; there’s an open kitchen just beyond. There’s plenty of parking in the area – if Medford could ever finish what seems to be endless construction projects.

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    ON THE MENU Nagoya offers a range of sushi, sashimi, and specialty hand rolls; we sampled a caterpillar roll ($8.95), a sweet potato roll ($4.25), and a vegetable roll ($4.95), which were well-presented, fresh, and very tasty.

    Stephanie Schorow
    ​A platter of Nagoya's caterpillar roll, ​sweet potato roll, and vegetable roll.

    The menu is extraordinarily expansive, with Japanese appetizers like gyoza and shumai dumplings ($4.95 to $5.50), tempura ($5.95 to $7.95), and teriyaki ($12.95 to $16.95). There are Chinese classics such as kung pao beef ($11.25), General Tso’s Chicken ($11.50), sweet and sour shrimp ($12.95), and chung king spicy pork ($10.25).

    We sampled the Nagoya crispy shrimp ($13.95) and — on the recommendation of our waitress — the pineapple chicken Hawaiian style ($12.75), with lightly battered chicken and fresh pineapple. Both dishes were flavorful if somewhat similar in taste.

    A diner sitting nearby, who overheard us asking for recommendations, insisted that we try the beef with mushroom chow yoke ($11.25). We can see why it was his favorite: it was a generous portion of savory, juicy, beef chunks in a rich sauce.

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    We also sampled two of the 10 ramen dishes. First, a word about ramen: put those packets of dried noodles that you ate in college out of your mind; at Nagoya, these are bowls with taste, heft, and in some cases, a heated kick, ranging in price from $8.95 to $13.95. Huang’s recommendation was the Nagoya yakiniku ramen ($13.95), which we found to have a savory pork-based broth, chewy noodles, juicy slices of pork, and a spicy punch.

    Our dishes were served with mind-blowing speed and service was friendly. Nagoya may not yet be a standout destination, but it certainly adds to the growing proliferation of restaurant choices in downtown Medford. Note: Nagoya plans to offer free samples of noodles to diners on Sunday, Sept. 24.

    Nagoya Restaurant, 38 Riverside Ave., Medford, 781-391-7777, www.nagoyamedfordma.com.

    Stephanie Schorow
    Beef with mushroom chow yoke was a generous portion of savory, juicy, beef chunks in a rich sauce.

    Stephanie Schorow can be reached at sschorow@comcast.net.