By Ling-Mei Wong
Japanese chain Totto Ramen opened its first Massachusetts location on May 3, standing out with a chicken-based broth amidst a pork-dominated ramen scene.
Paitan or “white broth” is made from animal bones, resulting in a milky, creamy texture. According to Eater Boston, it was Totto’s whole-chicken version that inspired Nghi Nguyen to leave law and open the Allston location, to the delight of ramen fans in the Boston area.
At Totto, appetizers include the char siu mayo don ($5.50). Two thick slices of pork are dressed with yuzu mayonnaise and blow torched, then laid atop a bed of lettuce and rice.
For the main course, the Totto chicken paitan ramen ($9.75) highlights the chicken and soy broth, along with scallion, onion, nori and char siu pork. Its firm egg noodles must be slurped straight away for the proper al dente chewiness, or else the noodles will soak up the chicken soup and turn mushy. The soup is lighter compared to fatty gelatinous broths, but still has plenty of rich flavor.
The Totto spicy ramen ($11) includes hot sesame oil for a slight kick — it doesn’t quite hit fiery. It comes with scallion, char siu, bean sprouts and nori, along with optional add-ins. I added corn ($1) and a boiled seasoned egg ($1) to my bowl, with the runny egg yolk melting into the unctuous soup.
If you’re still hungry after polishing off your ramen, you can ask for “kaedama” ($2.50) or extra noodles in your broth.
Be prepared to wait on the weekends, as fans line up fast. Totto Ramen also does not provide takeout boxes. After all, ramen this tasty deserves to be enjoyed fresh and hot.
169 Brighton Avenue
Boston, MA 02134
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