Words by Rochelle Li
When walking through the doors of Porter Square, one initially thinks that they have entered into an average American mall. However, turn left into a certain corridor and you have stepped in and transported yourself into a little restaurant strip of Japan.
You can hear the sizzling of the pan-fried gyoza (Japanese dumplings). You can smell the authentic and soulful Ramen broth filling the air around you. You can see the rainbow of colorful sushi being presented to very satisfied customers. But after walking here during a somewhat frigid winter’s day, there is only one place that you should seek--Sapporo Ramen.
A long line of eager, hungry patrons waiting for seats protrudes from the entrance of the ramen shop during its bustling weekend lunch hour. The wait—only 15 minutes—was well worth it. While my party waited in line, the chipper, fast-paced server took our orders, so that our food was served only five minutes after we were seated.
This was my first time eating a Sapporo-styled ramen. Unlike the mediocre, microwavable ramen with questionable powders, plastic veggies, and an unfortunately distinguishable artificial flavor, real ramen takes more than 3 minutes in a radioactive cup to produce, and with much more satisfactory results. Each region of Japan has their own unique take on the dish. Sapporo-style ramen originates from the Sapporo, Japan, the capital and largest city on the island of Hokkaido. What differentiates Sapporo ramen from the other styles is the distinct full-flavored miso broth. The soup features akamiso (red soybean paste) base and is accented with meat, garlic and ginger. The result is a hearty and rich broth that leaves a satisfied and satiated customer in absolute bliss. Porter Square’s Sapporo Ramen’s broth is made by boiling chicken and fresh vegetables for more than ten hours. The results are absolutely phenomenal.
That particular afternoon I ordered their kim-chi ramen, which featured kim-chi (spicy fermented Korean cabbage), thin slices of pork, half of a boiled egg, bean sprouts, corn kernels, scallions and piece of nori (roasted seaweed sheet) in their house ramen broth. Used to the lighter and saltier Toyko-style ramen, I was initially taken aback by the broth’s rich flavor. But after the second slurp, I realized that this was just the thing I needed during that cold, windy winter’s day.
It wasn’t just the broth that satisfied my taste buds. All the ingredients played the perfect notes to a symphony of flavor and texture. The kim-chi added slightly sour and spicy contrast to the rich and fatty notes of the broth, while the crunchiness of the bean sprouts and corn kernels complimented the soft, succulent slices of pork that melted in my mouth. The dish had achieved the perfect balance. My only complaint: The richness of the soup prevented me from finishing the entire bowl.
When the winter’s bitter, and your attitude is worse, Sapporo Ramen is the ideal destination for the perfect bowl of soup. Although it is somewhat of a schlep from BU, the adventure is well worth it. If you want to get authentic miso ramen without going into a study abroad program, Sapporo Ramen in Porter’s Square is your best bet. It’s Hokkaido ramen authenticity at its greatest.
1815 massachusetts Ave. Cambridge, MA 02140
Phone number: (617) 876-4805
Hours: Monday thru sunday 11:30am-9:00pm