Boston’s Japanese food scene has been evolving for years. Over time, owners of Japanese restaurants in Boston have slowly branched out from ramen shops and sushi establishments to izakayas and yakitori-yas. Today, Boston is brimming with a growing number of restaurants that specialize in regional cuisines and are shining a spotlight on the diverse culinary traditions of Japan. Below, find 13 fantastic Japanese restaurants to check out around town.Read More
13 Incredible Japanese Restaurants in Boston
From casual izakaya to celebration-worthy yakiniku, there’s something for everyone on this list
Yume Ga Arukara
If there’s one noodle shop you must visit in the Boston area, this is the one. The place has gotten so popular over the years that now every customer is allotted 20 minutes to finish their bowl. Try the niku cold udon, where bouncy, freshly made udon swims in a cold, umami-rich broth that’s topped with crunchy bits of fried tempura dough. The grated ginger and daikon radish cut the fatty beef, which is sweet and savory. Be sure to check out their Instagram account, where they not only post information on the can’t-miss weekly specials but also share news about the forthcoming location in Boston’s swanky Seaport. Rumor has it that the owners want to put in a beverage program where sake and beer would be served alongside the bowls of delicious udon.
Cafe Mami and Ittoku
If you’re up for a quick bite and don’t want to wait in line for Yume Ga Arukara, there are two incredible spots for Japanese food in the same building. They have completely different vibes: Cafe Mami offers great value for speedy service and satisfying meals, and Ittoku is the place for catching up with your old pals over a few rounds of thirst-quenching draft beer or whiskey highball. At Ittoku, order the lightly-charred yakitori skewers, thickly layered Hiroshima-style okonomiyaki (savory pancakes), and juicy karaage served with mayo to go with your drinks. Thank us later.
Clio and Uni alum Chris Chung combines Japanese and Hawaiian traditions with his own personal touch at this casual and homey Inman Square spot. Be sure to make a reservation ahead of time as the place gets busy fast. And if you feel extra fancy, don’t miss out on the monthly omakase options.
This Cambridge establishment adopts the small plate format, taking inspiration from both Spanish and Japanese cuisines. Be sure to order the black cod croquettes, seasoned with togarashi and served with Thai basil aioli. Or go for Guchi’s Midnight Ramen, a fan favorite that started out as renowned chef Tracy Chang’s pop-up project but turned into a restaurant staple after she opened Pagu.
This Fenway udon shop is known for its large, creative selection of freshly made udon dishes, from a cold udon topped with a handsome amount of sea urchin to miso carbonara udon. But it’s the sukiyaki udon that truly shines, with the noodles swimming in a semi-clear broth of slightly sweet and fatty braised beef slices. The owners Minh Bui and Xue Zhen Cao are behind the opening team at beloved soba house Sugidama in Somerville, which is rumored to reopen soon near its original location.
Laid-back and casual, Hojoko in Fenway has been a perfect hangout spot for groups small and large since its inception. The extensive menu leans heavily on both Japanese- and Western-influenced bar food. Wash down the delicious wagyu burgers and okonomiyaki with a Japanese whisky highball, glass of sake, or a draft beer from local breweries.
It’s quite easy to miss this mom-and-pop restaurant at bustling Coolidge Corner. But the unassuming spot opens up once you step inside, emanating both cozy and bright vibes. Lunch is a great opportunity to try kaiseki, a haute Japanese cuisine expressed in set meals with each small dish intricately prepared and placed. Other lunch options include teishoku, a set meal that typically includes miso soup, rice, pickles, and protein; and a variety of noodle dishes. Their dinner menu features soup, vegetables, seafood, and meat dishes that give a more homey vibe and are commonly seen on Japanese dinner tables.
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The Japanese grocery store Maruichi is a gold mine to stock up on hard-to-find regional miso, specialty tsukemono (pickled vegetables), tofu shokupan, and a variety of Japanese snacks you don’t see elsewhere. But right across the street, Maruichi Select has your lunch plan covered. Head over for an affordable and beautiful bento box and munch on a neatly wrapped savory onigiri in the former Gen Sou En tea house space.
Brookline’s popular ramen shop Ganko Ittetsu has a must-try sibling restaurant, Gantetsu-Ya, which is conveniently located right across the hallway from the packed noodle joint. Gantetsu-Ya focuses on karaage, a deep-fried, bite-sized Japanese chicken preparation, which is served with one of three house-made sauces: garlic ponzu, Thai curry, and spicy Korean gochujang. The karaage, always made to order, are deeply savory and juicy on the inside.
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For more than two decades, FuGaKyu has been a stalwart of Japanese restaurants with its two locations in Brookline and Sudbury. It’s known for offering private dining rooms for small and medium-sized groups, where guests can have an extra bit of privacy behind sliding doors. The menu is expansive, featuring tempura, house curry, and katsu, as well as nigiri and sashimi from the raw bar.
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This cozy izakaya in Brookline Village has been serving no-frills Japanese bar fare for years and can get quite busy on weekends, thanks to its $7 mai tais and $5.50 draft beer. To help the drinks go down, its yakitori and kushiyaki menu offers a great selection of poultry and non-poultry skewers cooked over a bed of hot charcoal. For something that’s more elevated and special occasion-worthy, the chef’s omakase comes in a box divided into nine sections, each compartment featuring a sashimi or onigiri that’s decorated in exquisite detail. It has a sibling location in Malden.
Gyu-Kaku Japanese BBQ
There’s no better way to celebrate a special event than with yakiniku (a style of Japanese barbecue), and Boston has no shortage of it. With four locations in Brookline, Cambridge, Dorchester, and Burlington, people no longer have to wait in line for a table at international chain Gyu-Kaku, which was the norm when it made its debut in Brookline a decade ago. Choose from one of the three all-you-can-eat menus if you’re feeling hungry, or order one of the combo menus that are designed for parties of two or more people. “Gyu” means cow in Japanese, and therefore the options here lean heavily on beef, with sirloin, ribeye, and A5 wagyu available.