Last updated: 8/16/14
8/16/14: Now that Yume Wo Katare has been open for almost two years (!) and they're on social media I've decided to stop updating this page. It seems they keep making changes to make dining there more interactive and I'm not eating there often enough to keep up with the changes. For a while now they've been critiquing diners' eating performance. If you finish everything in your bowl the staff will shout out, "Perfect!" and other diners are asked to applaud. If you finish all your food but not all the broth you get a, "Good job!" and if you don't finish all your food, you get a "Next time..." I always get a "good job" and have no desire for a "perfect" (I'd rather enjoy my food than be ill), but some diners have found this offputting. I'm sure it's no fun having everyone in the restaurant know you didn't finish your meal. A friend told me that they just changed things again so you'll now be asked to stand after your meal and say your name and what your dream is. Might be a bit nervewracking for those who have a fear of public speaking!
You can keep up with their changing schedule and procedures on Facebook.
I've written several posts about Yume Wo Katare, but I keep learning new things so the info is scattered everywhere. I'll try to collect all the pertinent info on this page.
- My reviews: Yume Wo Katare v. Sapporo Ramen: Apples & Oranges, first impressions, original Yelp review, which has been removed for violating their content guidelines (I hadn't read them in a while and didn't know I couldn't review a my friends' restaurant, even though I'd just met them that day).
- My photos: before & after opening, opening night, after their summer 2013 makeover.
Yume Wo Katare (夢 を 語れ or ゆめ を かたれ) [Listen] is pronounced you-meh o ka-ta-re (short vowels, w is silent, Japanese r). It translates roughly to "talk about your dreams."
Yume Wo Katare
1923 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02140
Tel: They prefer not to publish it. Try asking them on Facebook.
Closest T stop: Red Line - Porter Square
Closest bus stop: Massachusetts Ave at Davenport St (directly in front of Yume Wo Katare)
See Yelp for more bus info.
Hours: Tuesday - Saturday, 5pm to 11pm
[Note: Other blogs have mistakenly reported their hours as 11am - 2am.]
Closed: Sunday & Monday
Pleas check Facebook where they publish their schedule every month. Since September 2013 they've been closing a few days additional days every month. I gather Tsuyoshi-san has been returning to Japan to hone his ramen craft.
What to Bring
- Your appetite!
- Your dreams
- Friends, family, coworkers, strangers
- Anything to amuse you while you wait in line: book, laptop, iPad, knitting, sketchpad
- Camera (to take a picture of your monster bowl of ramen)
- Warm coat, gloves/mittens, scarves (yes, multiple), hat/earmuffs/earwarmer, coffee/tea/hot chocolate (if it's cold)
- Umbrella (if it's raining or snowing)
- Breath mints/gum (for after - you'll need it if you say yes to garlic)
- Antacids - if you manage to finish your whole meal, you might need it!
- Tissues - You'll receive a plastic wrapped oshibori with which to wipe your hands. Paper napkins are available upon request, but you might find it easier to have your own tissues. According to Ramen Tokyo, it's common for Jiro-kei ramen shops not to have napkins. I'd forgotten that in Japan it's verboten to blow your nose in public, much less at the dinner table.
- CASH ONLY. Nearest ATMs are Cambridge Savings Bank next to CVS & Sign of the Dove, Bank of America, Citibank.
- No reservations.
- No take-out. Ramen is best when it's fresh, so in order to preserve the quality of Yume Wo Katare ramen, it's eat-in only. However, you can buy pork to take home. See below.
- No sharing, unless you're under 12. One bowl of ramen per customer.
- No taking home leftovers.
- No cell phone use or reading inside the restaurant.
- No non-pork broth substitute.
- No vegetarian option (although some vegetarians have asked for just noodles and veggies and paid the Ramen price - see below under Food Allergies for more details).
- No appetizers.
- No dessert.
- No alcohol.
- No condiments.
RamenAll ramen comes with:
- thick al dente noodles made in-house. If you want your noodles softer, ask and they'll cook them longer.
- a heaping serving of cabbage & bean sprout mix
- fresh minced garlic
- seabura known colloquially as just abura (pork back fat)
- soy sauce-pork broth
- Ramen $12 (including tax) - 2 thick slices of pork <- Recommended for Jiro-kei beginners!
- Buta Ramen $14 (including tax) - 5 thick slices of pork (Buta means pig)
Toppings (veggies, garlic & abura) are free. You can have as much as you want, but please don't ask for more than you can eat. It's mottainai. You might want to wait until you see what you're dealing with before asking for more! A lot of people are surprised by just how big their ramen is.
- $1 - Bottled water
- $2 - Ito En Oi Ocha (unsweeted) - cold in a bottle or hot in a can
- $2 - Ito En Golden Oolong (unsweetened) - cold in a bottle
- $3 - Red Bull!
- If there's a line, get in line. Once you're in line, you're definitely getting ramen. The owner gets updates on the line count and the line is cut off if he's running out of noodles or broth. Please wait on the sidewalk until you're called.
- NOTE: When you're at the front of the line, please wait on the sidewalk behind this line. Do not block the stairs - it's a fire hazard and also just annoying for the folks who live in the apartments upstairs.
- When you get to the front of the line you'll be directed inside to pay for your ramen & drink (see options above).
This is when you should ask for extra veggies, if you want them.Update 5/15/13: It seems that you may need to wait to ask for extra veggies. Note that asking for extra will double your veggies. The average diner probably doesn't need extra veggies. You may have read elsewhere that at this point you'll receive a plastic ramen ticket but they've started giving them directly to the chef to speed things up.
- If you're in the first group of the evening you'll be seated immediately.
- Please wait to be seated. Do not grab the next available seat. When your seat is available, you may be spoken to in Japanese (even if you don't speak Japanese). You should listen for ___ mei sama, douzo. This translates roughly to, "Party of ___, please." The word in the blank will be the number in your party.
- Once seated, wait eagerly for your ramen.
- When your ramen has been assembled, Tsuyoshi-san will call out "Ninniku iremasuka?" in Japanese. He's asking if you want garlic in your ramen. If you don't speak Japanese, that's okay, simply answer "yes" or "no". If you answer "yes" you'll get a very large serving of fresh minced garlic heaped on top of your already heaping ramen. You can also ask for extra garlic and extra abura at this time, although you may want to see what you're getting into before you ask for it.
- Your ramen will be served.
- Take a picture if you must, but ramen is best eaten quickly, so hurry!
- Inhale. Slurp. Repeat.
- Roll home in a "porky haze." (Customer quote from 10/16/12.)
Other Random Info/Advice
- The restaurant seats 18 - 6 at the counter and 12 at two long tables (they changed the set-up from a large communal table in May 2013). If you're lucky enough to get a counter seat, those are the best seats in the house. You can watch Tsuyoshi-san in action and he'll serve you your ramen.
If the crowds continue to come at the same pace as they have for the first four nights you can expect a 1-2+ hour wait. If the line is the length of the restaurant, the wait it probably around an hour. If the line is to Dunkin Donuts you're probably looking at 1.5 to 2 hours. If the line is the end of Dunkin Donuts, the wait is probably over 2 hours.Update 5/15/13: I ate at Yume Wo Katare a few days ago and they've changed their procedures a bit and the line seems to move more quickly now, so I don't think my estimates from October 2012 are accurate anymore. It used to be that they would rarely let anyone jump ahead in the queue but now it looks like if you're a party of 1, there's a chance you'll get in faster. How quickly the line moves all depends on how quickly people eat and leave, how many people ahead of you are waiting for their friends to arrive, and how many people ahead of you give up and leave. Note that bad weather sometimes makes the line shorter, but it may not be substantially shorter. I've seen many people wait in the rain and snow.
- Please be considerate and concentrate on your ramen so you can eat quickly and allow your fellow diners to get in and enjoy Tsuyoshi-san's amazing ramen. Ramen is best enjoyed quickly because the noodles get soggy if you eat too slowly. I recommend eating the noodles before everything else. Keizo Shimamoto, inventor of the American Ramen Burger, tunnels into jiro-kei ramen and then lets the vegetables collapse into his broth. In Japan, there's usually no talking, just eating. Tsuyoshi-san can eat his ramen in 5 minutes flat. Please don't dawdle. Thanks!
- If you start to feel ill, don't force yourself to finish. Tsuyoshi-san's ramen is very heavy and they'd rather you enjoy what you ate than be sick.
- There's no wifi. This isn't the kind of restaurant where you can hang out as you can see from the line above.
- Forks are available upon request.
- Kids are welcome! Two high chairs are available.
- Don't plan on doing anything else afterwards except trying to waddle home and digest!
- Drink water before you go to bed or you might end up dehydrated from all the salt.
- Devotees of jiro-kei ramen are known as jirorian (ジロリアン).
What else can I buy?
- $15 - 500g (17.64 oz) of cha-su pork to take home. Available in very fatty or less fatty. If you like the pork, you can take some home! Please note: a limited number will be available for take home. The number may vary from night to night, depending on supplies on hand. Cha-su should be eaten within 7 days. You do not need to wait in line - just go inside and ask for it at the register.
- $15 - T-shirts - Size M only; assorted colors. Blank on front, text on back. As of May 2013 new t-shirts in English are available. Forgot to check on sizes and price. Colors available: pink, sky blue, black. (August 2014 - The t-shirt info is out-of-date. They've produced at least one if not more than one t-shirt since. If you'd like to buy a t-shirt I'd inquire at the shop about what's currently available.)
You'll notice that the walls are covered in frames. You can rent each frame to post your "dream" (what you hope/wish for, not what you were dreaming as you slept). If it comes true in the length of time of your frame you win different prizes. Smallest frames are 1 month rental. Largest frame is 10 year rental (pictured above). This is something Tsuyoshi-san started doing at his very first ramen shop in Kyoto, which had the same name. Note: frames cannot be shared. Don't forget to sign and date your dream, leave your full name and email address (in case other customers want to reach you), and come back to claim your prize if your dream is achieved! When you return, you're supposed to point to your dream and announce to Tsuyoshi-san that you achieved it.
- $10 - 1 month: One Ramen or Buta Ramen
- $30 - 3 months: Yume Wo Katare t-shirt + Ramen or Buta Ramen
- $50 - 6 months: Custom ramen bowl with your dream written on it and then baked in a kiln + Ramen or Buta Ramen
- $100 - 1 year: Special Yume Wo Katare clock + Ramen or Buta Ramen
- $10,000 - 10 years: A hug from owner & chef, Tsuyoshi Nishioka + Ramen or Buta Ramen
If you're gluten-free, unfortunately, you can't eat here. Ramen noodles are always wheat noodles and there's soy sauce in everything.
If you can't eat pork due to allergies, religious observance, or preference, you can't eat Yume Wo Katare ramen. The broth is a pork broth and they don't have any alternative broth. Some people have requested to have only noodles & vegetables which they think is nuts since they don't think it's tasty if it's not a proper bowl of ramen. The one vegetarian bowl I saw was dressed up with bonito flakes (fish) and soy sauce. The Muslim guy I talked to on opening night seemed to enjoy his noodles so if you're feeling brave, go for it. You'll pay $12.
Please note that even if you request only noodles & veggies, there will likely be some pork fat in there. Hot water from the noodle wok is ladled into the bowls to warm them. The same ladle is used to get the pork broth, so there's a transfer of pork to the wok in which the noodles are cooked. The same tongs are used to handle noodles, veggies, and pork. So there's no way to avoid the pork. You can only limit your exposure.
Ingredients I know are in Yume Wo Katare ramen:
- pork - lots and lots of pork & pork fat
- soy sauce
- cabbage & bean sprouts (cooked together)
- corn starch and/or potato starch (used so the noodles won't stick together)
- shiitake mushrooms
- bonito flakes
- MSG (Ajinomoto) - I saw a generous pinch thrown in the bowl before serving. I haven't yet found out if it's also in the broth.
What's definitely NOT in Yume Wo Katare ramen:
Stuff Near ByIf you're freezing your ass off waiting in the 1-2+ hour line, you can get hot green tea in a can from Yume Wo Katare or coffee a few steps away at Dunkin Donuts or around the corner at Panera.
If you decide the line is too long, there are many other restaurants in Porter Square. If you absolutely must have ramen, you can check out Sapporo in the Porter Exchange Building aka University Hall (it's a Lesley University building). There's often a line, but it probably won't be as long as Yume Wo Katare's and it's indoors. If you just want any kind of Japanese food, there are many great options inside the Porter Exchange. Several tiny restaurants: Café Mami (owned by Carlos Garcia whose brother & uncle own Ebi Sushi in Somerville), Tampopo (no website), Ittyo Restaurant (also owned by Carlos) and Blue Fin, a full-size restaurant.
- Ramen on Steroids @ YumeWoKatare Porter Square Boston MA
- Newest Ramen Player in Boston... Welcome YumeWoKatare! / Video of the line on opening night.
- Japanese Ramen noodle's in Boston @ Yume wo Katare (夢を語れ)
- MC Slim JB's Yelp review - A real food critic's review!
- Yume Wo Katare will make your wildest dreams come true
- Buta Ramen at Yume Wo Katare - MC Slim JB's Boston Phoenix review
- Yume Wo Katare - I Dream of Ramen
HistoryThe very first jiro-kei ramen shop is Mita Honten (三田本店), which means Mita Head Office. From Mita, several other shops were born, including one originally known as Maruji. After a branding fight with Maruji's "father," Mita Honten, the name was changed to Fujimaru. Tsuyoshi-san apprenticed at Maruji for three and a half years before moving to Kyoto in October 2006 to open his first ramen shop called 夢 を 語れ (Yumewokatare). So, in the lineage of jiro-kei restaurants, all of Tsuyoshi-san's restaurants are "grandchildren" of the original restaurant. [Source: Naomi Nishioka] In 2008 he dreamed of opening a ramen shop in America. Five more ramen shops followed before his dream came true:
- March 2009: Kyoto 地球規模で考えろ (Chikyū kibo de kangaero) - Think Globally
- August 2010: Osaka 歴史を刻め (Rekishi wo kizame)
- September 2010: Tokyo その先にあるもの (Sono saki ni arumono) (closed 2011) - What Lies Ahead
- April 2011: Osaka おもしろい数へ (Omoshiroi hou he)
- October 2011: Hyogo これが好きだから (Kore ga suki dakara)
[10/16/12: Consulting with friends on translation of names. Will update once there's consensus on each one.]
This year, they sold the five ramen shops to each of the managers so they could open Yume Wo Katare Cambridge!! By 2030 he'd like to have ramen shops in all 195 countries!
|Naomi & Tsuyoshi Nishioka|
Why I know so much
I met the Nishiokas the day before Yume Wo Katare opened. I wandered in with a Tewassa brochure in hand (so I wasn't just some crazy person off the street) to introduce myself and say how excited my friends and I were about their restaurant. I happened to arrive just after Naomi-san's English conversation partner, who invited me to help with the afternoon's English lessons which were mostly about what customers might ask and how to respond. We discovered we had friends in common and I ended up helping with signage and hanging out talking to the guys who had come from Osaka to help with the shop opening. I stayed so late I was able to take part in a dress rehearsal, so I got my first bowl of Yume Wo Katare ramen after midnight. Wanting to see what opening night was like, I offered to come back the following day and help with English-speaking customers.
I'm not receiving any monetary compensation for writing about Yume Wo Katare. I'm also not speaking for them in an official capacity. I'm just writing for fun and as a public service for other ramen-lovers. I photograph and write about what I'd be curious about.