Thursday, October 18, 2012

Yume Wo Katare original Yelp review

for more information.

Update 10/20/12: I just got home to a message from Yelp that my review was removed on the 19th for violating their Content Guidelines. I admit it's been a while since I read them and I didn't know that I wasn't allowed to post because I'm friends with them (nevermind that I only met them last Thursday). So, my bad for posting. My original review and the disclaimer that was up for less than a day addressing accusations in a negative review are below.

My first bowl of Yume Wo Katare ramen.

I'm going to cut my Yelp review when it's not down for maintenance to address some complaints. This was my original review posted on 10/12/12.

4 stars

I was privileged to have a preview bowl of ramen a few hours ago (around 1:30am). It was very tasty, but I couldn't finish. The noodles are thicker than what other ramen shops in Boston serve - closer to Okinawa soba, but not quite as thick as udon. I had Okinawa soba at Sunrise last time I was in Hawaii - I think the texture is similar but it was a few years ago so I can't be sure. The noodles are chewy (their sign refers to it as being al dente), which is the preferred Japanese preparation. I'm told that they're using flour imported from Japan, although when it runs out, they'll be switching to US flour (11/26/12: They're still using Nisshin Seifun). I got mine without garlic (allergic). Veggies were crunchy and went well with the chewy noodles. I'm sad to say I couldn't really taste the seabura, I think because I'm congested. I really enjoyed my ramen, but it's a little too rich for me to have regularly.

Yume Wo Katare offers only pork ramen - Ramen (2 slices - $12 tax included) & Buta Ramen (which is extra pork - 5 slices - $14 tax included). Both come with more than double the amount of noodles most other ramen shops serve - 350g, thick slices of rich flavorful pork, plus a heaping serving of cabbage & bean sprouts, and generous servings of fresh minced garlic and seabura (pork back fat) if you want them. The veggies and seabura are free and if you want additional, you can ask for it, although I really can't imagine why anyone would need more!

If you like the pork so much you want more, you can get 500g to take home for $15. It's both salty and a little sweet. Quite delicious.

The man behind the counter making the ramen is Tsuyoshi Nishioka. This is his 7th ramen shop (5 still open in Japan and they've been bought by the guys who managed them for Nishioka-san). He's passionate about ramen and has wanted to open a ramen shop in the US since 2008. His wife Naomi will also be working until they can staff up.

The restaurant is very tiny - 16 seats. If you can get a seat at the counter, that's where you want to be.

You'll notice lots of frames on the wall - they're for rent to post your "dreams". There are 3 main sizes - 1 month ($10), 3 months ($30) 6 months ($50), 1 year ($100). Then there's one 10 year frame for $10,000! Some folks have put in stuff like "girlfriend" or "make friends from music business" but there's one enterprising golf performance coach who is using it for advertising. If your dream comes true by the end of your rental period, you win stuff. 3 months is a bowl of ramen, I think 6 months may be a t-shirt and 1 year is a special clock.

Bring your appetite, bring friends, bring your dreams, and bring cash! They don't take credit cards.

Update 10/13/12: 2nd bowl of Yume ramen tonight. I've decided that Yume Wo Katare ramen is like ramen on steroids, with crack (seabura). I could taste the seabura tonight - delicious pork fat, but I can only handle a few pieces and I'm done. My mistake last night was that I was only eating the smaller bits. You really can't get a sense of it unless you eat one of the big hunks. There was one brave vegetarian tonight (he later explained he is Muslim). He requested noodles and veggies only. Nishioka-san wasn't about to serve just noodles and veggies so he dressed it up with some soy sauce and a heap of bonito flakes. I also saw them give him some black pepper. :)

I forgot to mention drinks - bottled water $1, iced unsweetened green or oolong $2, Red Bull $3.

T-shirts also for sale for $15. Unfortunately, size M only. They appear to come in at least a dozen colors.

If you get cold while waiting, Dunkin is conveniently right there.

Lastly, if there's a line, please wait on the sidewalk behind the "line" at the corner of the stairs. Blocking the stairs is a fire hazard. There's a little bit of room for customers on deck for ramen to wait inside - about 4 or 5 people.

Update 10/14/12: I forgot to mention that these aren't your average slices of ramen pork like Pikaichi & Sapporo serve. These are much thicker. The pork is rolled and tied, marinated for a few hours in a soy sauce-based marinade, then cooked.

I wanted to write some notes for the allergic since as someone with food allergies, I'm always having to figure out where I can safely eat. There are more ingredients than just the ones posted on their menu sign. They're still learning English so if you have a severe food allergy it might be risky. Ingredients I know are involved: wheat, soy, pork (the broth is pork broth and there's no alternative available), cabbage & bean sprouts (cooked together), garlic (also in the broth), corn starch, potato starch, shiitake mushrooms, bonito flakes, MSG.

A very important note for the strictly observant & pork-allergic - the same tongs are used to handle the noodles, veggies, and pork, so even if you request only noodles & veggies, the tongs will have touched pork. It's possible that if you request they use different utensils, they might, but because of the fast pace, I wouldn't count on it.

Disclaimer added 10/18/12:

10/18/12: I had to cut a bunch of my review to include this disclaimer. I feel I have to say something due to another reviewer's incorrect assumptions. For the record, I'm not an employee of YWK, although I am friends with the owners. I met them the day before they opened and ended up helping out by accident, in part because I'm fluent in English and they're not. I keep going back because I've been having fun. They absolutely didn't solicit this review or any others (anyone who knows Japanese culture would know that they would never do that since it would be totally impolite) and had no idea that I posted it until after I told them. One of our friends asked me why I didn't give it 5 stars and I said that 4 stars was my honest review because the ramen is a little on the rich side for me. I do love it, but I just can't eat it as often as Pikaichi. Although it's possible it's an acquired taste. I turned down ramen on Tues because I left early but then was thinking about it when I was trying to fall asleep. I had my 4th bowl on Wed and was able to finish all the food (although not all the broth). YWK currently has only 1 employee and I don't think he's even on Yelp.

A lot of people have complained about the lack of variety. I think it was Eater that described their thing as "do one thing really well." Yume Wo Katare is a Jiro-style ramen restaurant. That's all it is and that's all they plan for it to be. If you don't like it, you can vote with your dollars by eating at other establishments. They get that not everyone will like their style of ramen and the people who really do will thank you for not making the line longer.

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