Hokkaido Ramen | Santouka | Boston, MA

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ramen has become so popular now. just about every japanese restaurant started to offer ramen on their menu and new ramen shops keep popping up everywhere, but sadly, not many shops can get it right.

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if you are a ramen fan, mostly likely you have heard or eaten santouka ramen. santouka ramen is one of the biggest franchise ramen noodles in Japan and they have opened their stores in the US as well as Canada (several shops in California, Seatle, New Jersey, Hawaii and Toronto). they are hosting a test marketing event in boston now, so today, i had the honor to get a preview of their ramen and interview the president of santouka ramen.

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most of their shops in the states are located in mitsuwa, the largest Japanese Supermarket in the US. ive had their ramen countless time in new jersey, san diego, and LA. and no doubt it’s one of the best bowls of ramen ive had at all times.

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santouka does offer a variety of ramen in their shops, but for this event, they only offer shio ramen which is their very first and signature ramen, also my favorite one.

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not only i love the simplicity of it, every component of the bowl is just perfect and they are consistent every time i have it. they are known for their mild, pearl colored tonkotsu broth which takes about 20 hours to simmer the pork bones before adding vegetables, dried fish, kelp and other special ingredients. the broth just has SO MUCH depth to it; rich, creamy, flavorful, while still remain mild. the flavor is so complex but so clean, simple, and pleasant (ha, i bet you know what i mean).

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the pork is cooked to perfection. not only so well flavored, but also super tender and melts in your mouth. they use pork back ribs instead of pork belly so the their cha-shu has the perfect balance of lean meat and fat which goes perfectly with their clean but complex broth.

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the noodles, which i care for the most, had the perfect texture. they are on the thinner side (thicker than hakata style), but still al dente, chewy to the bite.

the pickled plum is their signature topping which is only served with shio ramen. it has a sour taste and light crunchy texture which gives a nice contrast overall. it’s also topped with kikurage mushrooms and bamboo shoot which both add more texture to the soup.

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i also had the pleasure to speak with Mr. Kikuta, the President & CEO of santouka ramen. they are planning to grow out of mitsuwa and open real shops possibly in Boston and other cities. they are here in boston right now serving 200 bowls of ramen per day from 4pm to 9pm to test of the market in boston and hopefully will help them to make a decision whether or not to open a store here. he said japanese people love boston, since it’s such a historical city and full of great colleges with a lot of successful people. he wishes santouka can grow more successful as the city grows.

they are very serious about their ramen and they make sure every bowl is exceptional. i could feel his passion for their ramen as he told me that he was very excited for me to try their ramen because the broth was outstanding today. indeed, it was extra tasty. just the way he personally and meticulously laid out the napkin and utensils on the table for me showed so much care.

i highly recommend stopping by 269 newbury st today or tomorrow if you are a fan of santouka or just ramen in general. slurp down the best bowl of ramen you can possibly get in boston and give them some suggestions. i really wish they can open a store in boston.
March 02, 2014-photo

http://www.santouka.co.jp/en/

they are hosting the event at Itadaki
269 Newbury St
Boston, MA 02116

*I did not pay for this meal. All opinions are my own.

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The Good Ones | SOUS-CHEF SHOWDOWN | TOP SECRET TOP CHEF | Boston, MA

last week, we attended a charity party hosted by the good ones boston, ‘a social-matchmaking company that brings people together based on shared interests’, at a private loft in the leather district. it was a special celebration for some folks in food, film, and fashion and some of the proceeds were donated to raising awareness for Vitamin Angels. most of the food and drinks sponsors are local brands.

there was a live cook-off between two Top Chef contestants
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chef Brendan Andrew Burke, Former Sous Chef at Red Lantern Boston
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chef Juan Pedrosa from The Glenville Stops ev6

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veggies from siena farms
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hake
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island creek oysters
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oyster shooters
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mozzarella cheese from mozzarella house
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PRIVATEER RUMsexy winesdeep eddy vodkanarragansettev16

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sparkling matcha tea
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popcorns by corn & co. these popcorns were SO BOMB!!!!!!!!! they have so many different and unique flavors. i had the salty caramel ones and totally hooked. they have a store in burlington mall and about to buy more tomorrow.
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super good, totally rocked my world.
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Taza Chocolate | stone ground chocolate
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caricatures by mark penta
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pork belly and i in the middle
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he was drawing pork belly
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the dress code was: red, white, grey
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it was a fun night and i am hooked on the popcorns =D

TW Food | Cambridge, MA Boston

tw food used to be one of my fave restaurants in boston. i took my mom there for her birthday.

Fiano di Avellino, Campania, Italy 2012 - floral and fruity with bright minerality and a touch of honey!
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spring onion + mint shot
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SMOKED ONION BISQUE
maine sea scallop, mint-almond brown butter
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CRÈME BRÛLÉE FOIE GRAS
“for my mentors,” seckel pear, brioche
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WILD MUSHROOMS
crêpe, wheat berries, pineapple, spiced rum, lime
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WHOLE WHEAT TAGLIATELLE
braised beef shortrib, yellowfoot mushrooms, rutabaga, pecorino
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GRASS-FED BEEF
ribeye, confit tongue, braised cheek, leek dumpling, chioggia beet, green peppercorn jus – this was disappointing, the beef was very tough.
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SWORDFISH
wild nettle butter, potato mille-feuille, carrot bouillon
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T.W. CHOCOLATE SUNDAE
hazelnut praline, vanilla ice cream, valrhona chocolate ganache, cassis whipped cream
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SCOTCH AND CIGARS
beignets with tobacco ice cream, macallan 12 scotch syrup, valrhona
chocolate ganache
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BUDINO
valrhona dark chocolate custard, candied hazelnuts, sea salt, olive oil
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food was still good overall although they still served some of the same dishes as a year ago (they have a small menu). there were 2 brush hairs in my mushroom crepe and service was very disappointing that night as well. not attentive at all and they forgot to bring my mom a candle as i requested. like i said at the beginning of the post, TW food used to be one of my fave spots in boston, but this meal, our experience was rather disappointing. for the price, i do expect a smoother operation, no hair in my food, and some changes in the menu over time or more choices.

TW Food
French, American (New), Breakfast & Brunch
377 Walden St
Cambridge, MA 02138
Phone number (617) 864-4745
twfoodrestaurant.com

T.W. Food on Urbanspoon

i made my mom a japanese matcha green tea strawberry souffle cheesecake. turned out great.
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Belle Isle Seafood | Winthrop, MA Boston

a fan of anthony bourdain or no reservations? then you probably know about belle isle seafood as featured in no reservations season 7 in boston ep. the show is entertaining to watch for sure, but are they really the best restaurants in town or representative of the city? not so much. ive been to some of places in beijing, hong kong and vancouver that were featured in no reservations, there are def better places to eat, easily.

anyways we did check out belle isle seafood as my friend suggested. it’s on water, but we couldnt see much at night. (they moved since no reservations was filmed)

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belle isle

not too much ambiance to this place; it felt like a huge cafeteria.
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you order here and pick it up when food is ready.
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we just ordered some fried seafood
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lobster roll (pictured half). lightly dressed with mayonnaise. the bread was toasted and i appreciated how little skin was on the bread
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belle isle was decent but not destination worthy.

Belle Isle Seafood
Seafood
One Main St
Winthrop, MA 04364
Winthrop
Phone number (617) 567-1619
belleisleseafood.com

Belle Isle Lobster and Seafood on Urbanspoon

Alden & Harlow | Harvard Square Cambridge, MA

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one of the most anticipated openings this winter was alden & harlow by chef Michael Scelfo who used to work for Russell House Tavern.

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the restaurant is pretty spacious.

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it was a rough start of the night: not only we were fighting on the way there, we got seated next to the crazy bright green exit light which pretty much f’ed up all my pictures. they were also out of my fave mezcal drink and the lamb sirloin dish i really really wanted.

pickled green beans
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MARKET CRUDO (Cauliflower Kimchee, Chili Oil, Uni Aioli)
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Skate Cheeks – delish, buttery.
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ISLAND CREEK OYSTER GRATIN (Uni, Creamed Leeks & Guanciale)
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CLAMS FROM PAT WOODBURY (Smoked Pig Tail, Parsley & Chile Toast) – i usually dont care for clams, but i really enjoyed this one. the smoked pig tail def adds another layer of flavors.
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WOOD ROASTED BEEF NECK (Parsnips, Vinegar, Radishes)
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CHICKEN FRIED LOCAL RABBIT (Celery, Apple, Blue Cheese, Chili Oil)
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CRISPY BERKSHIRE PORK BELLY (Cold Smoked Grits, Roasted Kumquat, Earl Grey Cure) – anything you wish for in a piece of pork belly although i thought the skin couldve been not so hard.
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GRILLED FOIE GRAS (Spiced Fruit, Sherry Vinegar, Warm Crumpet)
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SECRET BURGER (Our 8oz House Creekstone Grind, Your Faith, House Made Roll) – ugh pork belly also has to order the burger. nothing special
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SINGLE COMPOSED CHEESE SELECTION
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ROASTED PARSNIP COBBLER (Ginger Ice Cream, Blueberries, Star Anise)
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i really liked the ambience, very spacious but still cozy and casual. service was ok. i just remembered the mushrooms i ordered never came as im writing this post. anyways, we def enjoy all of our small plates, all very solid and well executed. BUT we all hated the desserts. i really didnt want to order any desserts because none of them looked appealing to me but pork belly really insisted. the cheese was passable i guess, how can you hate cheese, but the roasted parsnip cobbler was terrible. i couldnt even swallow it. if you are not into ‘salty desserts’ either and still craving some sweet endings to the dinner, i suggest walking down the street to LA Burdick Chocolate. for the most part, it was an enjoyable dinner and i ll def come back to try the mezcal drink and lamb dish soon.

Alden & Harlow
40 Brattle St
Cambridge, MA 02138
Harvard Square
Phone number (617) 864-2100
aldenharlow.com

Alden & Harlow on Urbanspoon

麻辣烫 |Potluck Cafe 三菜一汤| Chinatown Boston, MA

MALA

Potluck Cafe 三菜一汤 is one of my favorite lunch spots in chinatown when i used to work in downtown. it’s located in an alley in chinatown that might look sketchy even during the day. if its not too ghetto for you or you are feeling adventurous, potluck cafe def offers the best deal in chinatown and good quality food for the price. the set up is similar to panda express but with more choices and better tasting authentic chinese food. any 3 entrees of your choice with soup and rice/noodles for only $6.25!!!!!!! (used to be $5.75) the best part about it is their food is not as greasy/oily as other places.

anyways, this post is NOT about their ’3 entrees deal’. potluck cafe also serves malatang ‘麻辣烫’, a super popular spicy street food especially in beijing which originated from sichuan spicy hot pot.

in beijing, you can pick out whatever you would like to eat and they boil the ingredients in numbing and spicy broth.

at potluck cafe, you dont get to pick out every single ingredient, but you can choose a set of ingredients

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ok, for those of you that dont read chinese, i ll translate for you since im so nice.
from left to right
vegetables combo: green vegetables, potatoes, seaweed, vermicelli, tofu bean curd, mushrooms, fried tofu, crab stick (fake), peanuts
lamb combo: lamb with green vegetables, potatoes, seaweed, vermicelli, tofu bean curd, mushrooms, fried tofu, crab stick (fake), peanuts
tripes combo: tripes with green vegetables, potatoes, seaweed, vermicelli, tofu bean curd, mushrooms, fried tofu, crab stick (fake) peanuts
beef combo: beef with green vegetables, potatoes, seaweed, vermicelli, tofu bean curd, mushrooms, fried tofu, crab stick (fake),peanuts
seafood combo: shrimp, squid, fish balls with green vegetables, potatoes, seaweed, vermicelli, tofu bean curd, mushrooms, fried tofu, crab stick (fake), peanuts

we got both lamb combo and beef combo and liked the lamb better
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i asked for extra spicy, but its not crazy spicy and numbing but had a great kick to it. i appreciated the numbness which hard to find in boston.
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you can see steams coming out in this picture. a cold winter night, nothing is more satisfying than wolfing down a hot soupy spicy tasty malatang, not to mention it’s super cheap and reminds me of home. $8 no tip, no tax.
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looks like they also have 麻辣香锅 (dry version of malatang)水煮牛肉 (spicy beef) and 水煮鱼 (spicy fish). i ll have to try them out soon.
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after malatang, pork belly wanted to stop by for some egg tarts. im NOT a fan of flakey egg tarts; i like the ones with crumbly crusts.
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Potluck Cafe
hours: 10am to 10pm
Category: Chinese
7 Knapp St
(at Beach St)
Boston, MA 02111
Neighborhood: Chinatown
(617) 482-1188

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