Ramen is the warm blanket of the food world, providing solace through the changing of the seasons. The Boston area is a treasure trove for this comforting Japanese dish, and plenty of restaurants serve a variety of bowls that should not be overlooked. Scroll below for 15 must-try ramen shops in and around Boston.Read More
Where to Slurp Ramen Around Boston
The area is a treasure trove for this comforting Japanese dish
Ebisuya Japanese Noodle House
This Malden ramen shop is a spinoff of a popular market that attracted customers with its “ramen Sundays.” Now, Ebisuya Japanese Noodle House is a direct source for that same ramen, including spicy and non-spicy miso versions.
Once a beloved ramen destination in the Super 88 Food Court, Pikaichi has since settled into Medford as its permanent home. Pikaichi serves eight types of ramen, two of which have a vegetable-based broth. Heat-seekers should opt for the spiciest ramen on the menu, the jigoku ramen; the word jigoku means “hell” in Japanese and is adopted by ramen shops to describe the spiciest variety on its menu. It comes with an ultra-spicy shoyu broth. For a milder pick with a hint of citrus, try the yuzu shio.
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Tsurumen, located in Somerville’s Davis Square, is a no-frills spot with a short menu that focuses on Osaka-style ramen. Try the paitan ramen, which has a thick, cloudy, chicken-based broth (paitan means “white broth” in Japanese) and comes topped with pork chashu and scratch-made noodles. Though the shop was initially designed to be impermanent, Somerville folks have charmed the owners enough that they decided to stay after 1,000 days.
Yume Wo Katare
Diners line up outside for a taste of the ramen at this popular Porter Square restaurant. The bowls of fatty pork ramen, made with thick noodles and pork broth, are among the best in Greater Boston. As the restaurant says, “Your choice is simple: two slices of pork, or five?” When diners finish their bowls inside the shop (it’s dine-in service only), they are given the opportunity to stand up and share their dreams in front of everyone in the restaurant.
Note: Yume Wo Katare is not associated with Yume Ga Arukara, the also-excellent udon-focused shop inside the nearby Porter Square Exchange. While the two shops originally shared a founder, Tsuyoshi Nishioka, he sold his stake in Yume Ga Arukara in 2020.
Bosso Ramen Tavern
Opened in March 2022, this new ramen shop hopes to carve a niche for itself in the already-crowded Harvard Square ramen scene with its innovative and unconventional ramen inspired by an ocean town in Japan. It offers a great selection of bowls and izakaya-style small plates that “you have not seen anywhere,” proclaims owner Yasu Sasago. For a good value, don’t miss out on the lunch specials.
The first of three locations of this Japanese chain to open in the Boston area, Santouka in Cambridge offers a variety of classic Hokkaido-style ramen with choices such as tonkotsu shio, shoyu, miso, and specialty options like tonkotsu toroniku ramen: toroniku, a rare, tender cut of pig’s cheek, is served on the side. There is also a vegetarian option made with a soy-based vegan broth, menma kikurage mushrooms, soy sauce-marinated fu (or wheat gluten), and umeboshi. Santouka’s two other locations are in Back Bay and Allston.
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This award-winning ramen can be traced all the way to Kagoshima, Japan, where it became known for its freshly made noodles and chicken-and-pork broth, claiming accolades in Japan and the U.S. It offers three signature tonkotsu-based ramen dishes (spicy, rich, and light) and two miso broth-based vegetarian ramen dishes. It has three locations, one in Harvard Square, one inside a shopping mall in Dedham, and the other in Seaport.
Isshindo had big shoes to fill, taking over the space of the beloved Pikaichi at Super 88. (Fortunately, Pikaichi didn’t close for good; it relocated to Medford, and it remains among the area’s best ramen spots — see more details above.) But in its first few years — it opened in 2019 — Isshindo has hit the ground running, impressing with its range of broth offerings, from the creamy and rich tonkotsu (pork bone broth) to the tangy shio to the umami-forward miso, there’s a bowl for every taste.
Waku Waku Ramen
This ramen joint started in Chinatown and quickly made its expansion into Harvard Square last fall, followed by a location in Waltham. In addition to ramen, a variety of donburi (a bowl of rice topped with a dish, which can be chicken, beef, pork, or fish) and hand rolls are offered, as well as an extensive sake and Japanese beer list.
This tiny Coolidge Corner ramen shop opened in late 2015, hidden inside the Arcade building, and features a selection of nine ramen options under the Sapporo-style umbrella, including the spicy gankara miso, the sesame-based tan-tan, and more. Two of the main components of the ramen broth (kaeshi, the soup base and dashi, the soup stock) are freshly made in-house. The team also runs Gantetsu-Ya, a casual takoyaki and okonomiyaki shop in the same building. Just like other ramen hotspots, this place is small and can get busy quickly; go in small groups.
Mecha Noodle Bar
Mecha Noodle Bar started in Connecticut with multiple locations across the state. Last year, it started opening shops in Seaport and Brookline, and quickly went viral thanks to its boozy boba program and the eclectic cocktails. Pho and ramen are both offered; in addition to the noodle bowls for slurping, a good selection of snackable items including dumplings, egg rolls, and fried rice are on the menu.
Formerly known as Migaku, Sapporo Ramen opened in Brookline Village in 2019. It’s known in particular for its Nagasaki-style champon, which is a noodle soup with seafood, pork, and stir-fried vegetables. Diners will also find spicy miso ramen, hot and sour ramen with pork and tofu in a shoyu broth, and other hearty rice bowls and Japanese side dishes.
Little Big Diner
Sourcing high-quality ingredients is the focus at Little Big Diner, which sells a variety of pork and chicken ramen, as well as vegetarian pumpkin ramen with roasted delicata squash and spiced pepitas. The ramen shop is run by the same team that also owns another popular spot a few steps down the block, Jinny’s Pizzeria.
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Originally from New York, this small ramen chain has two local outposts in Somerville’s Assembly Row, and South Bay Center in Dorchester, as well as one sister restaurant Yakitori Totto, a restaurant specializing in grilled chicken. While much of the Boston ramen scene focuses on pork bone-based tonkotsu broths, it’s all about the chicken at Totto; there are three variations of a chicken paitan (white, cloudy broth) ramen on the menu, as well as a vegetarian option.
Hakata’s Quincy spot is a popular choice for its ramen, featuring a dozen options, most of which are made with a pork bone-based broth. Also on the menu: sushi burgers and sushi burritos. Sibling locations can be found in Boston’s Back Bay (under the name Berklee Noodles Factory) and in Waltham.