Uni serves high-end sushi and indulgently creative Japanese small plates—95 percent of the time. Each Friday and Saturday, at precisely 10:30pm, late-night ramen takes over the downstairs bar. Make sure to show up early for a spot, and you’ll be rewarded with a generous bowl of noodles and pork shoulder in a gloriously thick “tonkotsu” broth that takes up to four days to make.
New England and a hearty broth go hand-in-hand, and ramen is no exception.
Native to Japan’s northernmost main island, Santouka Hokkaido Ramen has dozens of locations around the globe—including Harvard Square and Back Bay. While several styles are represented, the signature is the “shio” (salt) broth, known for its silky texture and comparative lightness. If you’d like to make it heartier, you can always order extra pork and a soft-boiled egg to your bowl. Just be prepared to wait for a seat at the pocket-sized Back Bay branch.
There’s always going to be a line at Yume Wo Katare. But once you get in, you’ll discover a ramen experience like no other. The menu has just three items: pork ramen, takeout pork, and “dreams.” Its thick broth packs a serious punch and comes overloaded with pork, thick noodles, and—if you approve—a ludicrous amount of shaved garlic. And if you ordered a dream (always free), you’ll be asked to stand and share it with the entire restaurant. As we said, a ramen experience like no other.
Little Big Diner
From the team behind Sycamore, Newton Centre’s Little Big Diner has all the hallmarks of a great new-wave noodle shop: tiny size (20 seats), hip art (a big blue bowl of noodles painted on exposed brick), and wait-worthy ramen. A diverse range of broths are represented, from creamy paitan to miso to a vegetarian-friendly forest mushroom. Our go-to is the indulgent Chef’s Ultra Ramen, which is packed with chashu pork, chili-ground pork, and chicken thigh. The tight quarters and no-reservations policy make lines and wait times inevitable. But just know you can kill time with a cocktail at Sycamore down the street.
Sapporo Ramen has two locations, but the pint-sized outpost inside Cambridge’s Porter Exchange is our favorite. It’s known to draw a crowd, but your prize for waiting it out is a cheap bowl of noodles in a hearty broth topped with sliced or ground pork. Ramen may be the clear draw, but we never forget to order the excellent steamed pork buns, too.