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Emeril Kicks It up a Notch and Survives Hojoko’s Wasabi Roulette

Plus, new a la carte options at a Cambridge gem, and more news

Wasabi roulette at Hojoko: hamachi, shiso, one piece of super wasabi, and a side of horchata in a baby bottle
Wasabi roulette at Hojoko
Brian Samuels/Hojoko

Welcome back to AM Intel, a round-up of mini news bites to kick off the day.

Wasabi Roulette

Acclaimed New Orleans chef Emeril Lagasse — who is originally from Fall River, Massachusetts — was in town over the weekend and paid a visit to Hojoko (1271 Boylston St., Fenway, Boston), where he “survived wasabi roulette.” One piece of the hamachi and shiso roll hides a big bite of wasabi, and there’s a baby bottle full of horchata to soothe the burn.

Expanded Menu at Urban Hearth

Urban Hearth (2263 Massachusetts Ave., North Cambridge), a cozy Cambridge gem that’s been open for about a year and a half, typically offers cafe service by day and a prix fixe “supper club” menu four nights a week. Now, diners who aren’t up for dropping $70 or $85 on a multi-course dinner can still get a taste of Urban Hearth’s supper offerings with the addition of a la carte small plates on Wednesdays and Thursdays from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m.: Think crudos, charcuterie, cheeses, oysters, along with some cooked dishes, such as an oyster bisque and a paprika-braised beef cheek. No reservations needed — seats will be held for walk-ins at the bar overlooking the kitchen and at the communal table.

Rice Pilaf With Local Roots

The Globe digs into the origin story of the Near East brand of boxed rice pilaf mixes. Now owned by PepsiCo, the brand was actually founded in Worcester, the brainchild of Armenian immigrant Hannah Kalajian, who fled Turkey in the 1920s and eventually ended up in New York and later Worcester. There, her husband George opened an Armenian grocery store and luncheonette, selling coffee and doughnuts before expanding into daily specials, including Armenian rice pilaf. The food had played a comforting role in Kalajian’s long trek out of Turkey — her mother would describe an imaginary pot of pilaf to her children to take their minds off of hunger and danger as they made their escape. After a trip to California, where Kalajian saw that the markets were full of various mixes, she decided to make a pilaf mix, and the rest is history.

Maple Syrup Mania

As local and global demand for maple syrup grows, along with increased production thanks to more efficient technology, outside investors are inserting themselves into Vermont’s booming maple economy more and more. Vermont Public Radio takes a look.

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