Saturday, April 26, 2014

Totto Ramen opening soon in Allston

Photo courtesy Pete Lazar (aka CrazyPete)
My first hint that Totto Ramen from NYC was coming was when a friend texted me the photo to the left. He wrote "(Not the van…) :0" under the photo, but it made no sense and I got distracted and forgot to ask him why he was texting me a photo of a sketchy white van outside Inaka where he'd told me he was. When we met up for dinner later in the week he asked me if I saw the photo of the white van. At that point I'd completely forgotten about it and said no, you never sent me that. After finding the photo and zooming in I discovered I'd missed the most important part of the photo - the new Totto Ramen sign!


I didn't think Totto would open soon because the first time I went by in March there was a months-old layer of dust on everything and they hadn't started renovations.


When I went by three weeks later it looked much the same except for a few ladders, additional tables and chairs, and some shelves.


Then I saw that they were hiring. It seems they decided not to renovate. When I stopped by tonight it was too dark to take pictures but they look like they could open any day now. There were tables with flowers on them and it's all cleaned up. Unfortunately, no sign indicating an opening date, hours, or a menu. Some quick research turned up Boston Restaurant Talk reporting an opening date of Saturday, May 3rd. This is great news for those who love ramen but don't or can't eat pork. Totto's ramen broth is chicken-based and pork-free.

So, it seems that Camberville and Allston are battling it out to be the ramen capital of Boston. Who will win? It'll be interesting to see where Santouka Ramen lands. They might jump into the fray or they might decide these areas are too saturated with ramen and opt for another neighborhood.

Cambridge and Somerville have four Japanese-owned ramenyas, though two are the same business.

Davis Square
Snappy Ramen, 420 Highland Ave.
Owner: veteran restauranteur Kazu Aotani

Porter Square
Sapporo Ramen's original location, 1815 Mass Ave.
Owners: Manabu Ito and Taiji Mineo

Yume Wo Katare, 1923 Mass Ave.
Owner: Tsuyoshi Nishioka

Central Square
Sapporo Ramen's second location inside H Mart, 581 Mass Ave.
Owners: Manabu Ito and Taiji Mineo in partnership with José Garcia of Ebi Sushi

In Allston, if you get out at the Packard's Corner stop on the B Green Line, you'll find three ramenyas on Brighton Ave. Pikaichi and Totto are Japanese-owned. Inaka is owned by a Taiwanese-Japanese-American. 

Pikaichi, 1 Brighton Ave. 
Owners: Taka & Ritsuko Akatsu

Inaka, 72 Brighton Ave.
Owner: Jim Chen

Totto Ramen, 169 Brighton Ave.
Owner: Ryuichi "Bobby" Munekata (5/4/14: I'm actually no longer sure who owns the Allston Totto. Eater reported that the person behind the restaurant is Nghi Nguyen, a former lawyer.)


  1. Great report on excited for the opening! I hear that Mu Ramen from NYC (rated #1 by NYT) is also setting up shop in Boston as well. Great time for all ramen junkies in Bean Town.

    1. I would be really surprised if Mu is coming to Boston any time soon. They haven't even opened their first restaurant in Long Island. Opening a restaurant is a lot of work. I'd imagine they're putting all their time and energy into getting that up and running.

      If they do make it to Boston I doubt I'll be trying it. I saw a Yelp review that the bill for a group of 4 was $150 which puts it well out of my price range. Ramen should not be that expensive. I also note that none of their rave reviews on Yelp seem to be from Japanese people. Not surprising I guess. I don't know any Japanese person who'd be willing to spend more than $35pp on ramen (even if that does include drinks and dessert).

  2. So the food blogger Bunnyandporkbelly said it's gonna open this saturday, we'll see about that.

    1. That's the date I posted, although I got it from Boston Restaurant Talk. I emailed Totto for confirmation and hours but haven't received a reply yet.