Hojoko

We get it. You’re the kind of person who feels more at home in Ridley Scott’s dystopian Los Angeles than in the Fenway neighborhood, who’d rather be surrounded by Godzillas and Hello Kitties than flat-screen TVs, who’d rather play Pac-Man in a vintage salon chair than watch sports. Even if you’re getting dragged to the ballpark later tonight, your hot dogs won’t be of the flaccid, overpriced variety—they’ll be wrapped in bacon and stuffed with pickled jalapeños and American cheese. Because you’re fun. And Hojoko is, too.

So fun, in fact, that you might find yourself—for the first time since college—pounding both fists on the table and chanting something silly until a shot glass, perched upon chopsticks, crashes into a pint. Maybe it’ll be Campari crashing into Mexican Fanta, spraying the table with red-orange droplets. Chug it dutifully, knowing a second cocktail is on its way (something that appropriately mixes American and Japanese Whiskey, like the “NYC ->TKO”). Is your boring friend still acting stuffy? Order the Wasabi Roulette and hope she gets the surprise piece with the giant green ball hiding under the Hamachi topping. There’s nothing like a wasabi-fueled near-death experience (replete with choking and tears) to wake someone up—or the respite of a piña-colada-filled baby bottle to humble even the snobbiest.

Those shenanigans, the diner tables, the action figures and stuffed animals . . . just when Hojoko verges on the too-fun, the food always brings it down to earth. The Torched Uni is all soft and silky elegance spread on a tiny toast with a dollop of nori butter. Tuna Poke is fresh, filling, and healthy, its purple-red chunks interspersed with avocado, tiny seaweeds, and macadamia dressing. Fresh fish and culinary chops shouldn’t come as a surprise, given that Hojoko is the newest project of Tim and Nancy Cushman (owners of O Ya, Boston’s most famed sushi joint). After years and years of crafting fancy food, the Cushmans clearly needed an outlet, a place to have fun and relax. Don’t we all?

This place is huge—plenty of space for groups to sprawl out before and after baseball games.

Don’t overlook the menu of 20 individually sized sake cups, with helpful descriptions for each, nor the row of Japanese whiskeys behind the bar (beginners, try a Suntory or Akashi).

You can sleep here. The Verb Hotel is one of the best deals in the city. Each room has its own record player.

Must Haves

  • After you suffer, watch your fellow unlucky diners at nearby tables gasping for breath and feel less alone.

  • All-American in taste, but elevated with Wagyu short rib.

  • Ever scooped into the raw backbone of a tuna using a spoon? It’s time.

  • The Japanese know how to make a mean fried chicken-and so does Hojoko. A marinade of ginger and soy takes this comfort food to a new level.

Fun Fact

Like everything else at Hojoko, the name is an amalgamation of nostalgic America and something Japanese. “Hojo” refers to the Howard Johnson Motor Lodge that once occupied this space, while “ko” translates to “child.”

Tastes of Hojoko

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