The Boston ramen landscape has changed drastically for the better in the past five years. One newer entry is Ganko Ittetsu Ramenlocated in an unassuming arcade at Coolidge Corner, on 318 Harvard Street. Blink and you might miss this cozy space, with a small bar and several tables.
Ganko Ittetsu Ramen’s hours are from 11:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. for dine-in meals only and no reservations. Seating is limited, so be prepared to wait on the weekends. Fortunately, the arcade is indoors, limiting exposure to the elements.
Reminiscent of a ramen-ya or casual noodle shop in Japan, Ganko Ittetsu Ramen’s menu has one appetizer ($5 pickled cucumber) and three types of ramen: shoyu, tan tan and miso. Beverage options are cold green tea, soda and water. The restaurant is in the process of applying for a liquor license for harder beverages.
The cucumber appetizer is a bit small for the price. However, the pickled cucumbers were refreshing, tossed in soy sauce, sesame oil and koji, which added umami to this homey dish.
The miso ramen ($13) is a reasonable size, using noodles from Sapporo’s Nishiyama Seimen noodle company. With noodle-making experience since 1953, the amazing noodles had plenty of springy mouth feel, customized to meld with Ganko Ittetsu’s flavors. Chef Ken Iwaoka prepares northern-style ramen, hailing from the city of Sapporo in Hokkaido, which has a climate similar to Boston’s. A wok is used to combine the ingredients, broth and sauces, imbuing more flavor over high heat. Ganko Ittetsu Ramen’s soy sauce and miso are sourced from Japan like the noodles, providing an authentic Japanese ramen experience.
The broth is made by simmering chicken and pork bones for hours, yielding a delightful creamy broth that doesn’t taste overly greasy or salty. My miso ramen was topped with a decent-sized slice of pork belly, thin ginger slices, two sheets of seaweed, corn kernels, grated fresh ginger, scallions, bean sprouts and an unctuous runny boiled egg. The richness of the broth and the chewy noodles were offset by the ginger’s spicy kick, for a flavorful bowl of goodness.
Extra noodles can be added for $2, along with another egg for $2. I found the portion to be just right, although I wouldn’t have minded a second slice of the juicy pork belly. The pork belly was rich without being overly fatty. I can’t wait to try the tan tan ramen, which looks spicier than the miso version.
Ganko Ittetsu Ramen is right off the Coolidge Corner stop on the Green C line, with plenty of street parking nearby. The restaurant accepts credit card for payment. While lingering is not an option in this busy noodle shop, the aromas and flavors will stay with you long after you’ve left.
Ganko Ittetsu Ramen
318 Harvard Street
Brookline, MA 02446
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