• Friday, June 01, 2007

    Ramen, Red (toe) Sox and the Matsuzaka-effect

    Blame it on the so-called “Matsuzaka effect.” Since the Japanese phenom pitcher, Daisuke Matsuzaka signed with the Boston Red Sox, we’ve heard all kinds of crazy things are happening in the hub.

    If he’s really behind the resurgence of toe sox, it only seems fair to assume that he’s got something to do with the apprarent interest in a $13.00 bowl of mediocre ramen. That's okay, at least the Boston Globe is talking about real Japanese food for a change, not just the second-mortgage sushi spots.

    (Photo credit: Barton Silverman:NYTimes)


    On the plus side of the ledger we now have even the Boston.com folks talking about Onigiri. These are wonderful treats and not unlike the more familiar sushi. I love onigiri. In Japan, they are as popular as sandwiches are here. Maybe we will see them at Fenway? After all, Goya foods now serves Empanadas at Yankee Stadium. Why not.

    For Japanese food, including onigiri, head to Porter Square. Kotobukiya is an authentic grocery store, carrying ramen, onigiri and just about anything else you might want in the way of Japanese groceries.

    Recently, Boston was all abuzz with the Wagamama opening at Faneuil Hall. The first warning: it’s Faneuil Hall. Second: they’re a London-based operation. Serving not pub food, not Indian food, but Asian noodles. I was dubious.

    Since my husband and a very good friend went to check it out, I’ll probably never be able to report back to you about my first person experience. Two educated palates giving Wagamama a big thumbs down is sufficient for me.

    “Sodium intake for the month? Check." "Mad lines and bad service? Check.” Let’s just go to Chinatown, instead.

    Add to those ringing endorsements, the fact that I’d have to walk through Chinatown where a really excellent bowl of ramen is never more than $7.00 fully loaded, to get there... You can see that the likelihood I’ll make it to Wagamama is about equal to the chances I’ll be wearing toe socks again.

    Check out this crazy Japanese TV show as it's problem-solver goes to work for an empty ramen shop. (You may need to clear your cache before the link will work. Or, just go to Youtube and search for "Hard Gay Ramen". Yes, I'm serious.)

    For more on ramen generally: see Bento's article on the ramen museum.

    If you're on the road and want to know the best local ramen shop, check out Rameniac.com.

    Just Hungry always makes me, well hungry! It's a terrific site packed with Japanese food and recipes.

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    Anonymous Joseph Hayes said...

    What a shame. I blame it on American industrial taste buds and "service": the Wagamama we stumbled upon near the Britsh Museum was wonderful, both in food and service, very communal long tables and cutie waitresses bustling about with their wireless ordering machines. Too bad; I guess we should give up our fantasy of one opening around the corner.

    9:56 AM  
    Anonymous maki said...

    yipes...Wagamama...one of the example of Awful and Overrated pseudo-Japanese restaurants in London...(along with my favorite hate, Yo! Sushi)

    12:31 PM  
    Blogger food said...

    This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    3:41 AM  
    Blogger JacquelineC said...

    This just in from another friend:

    "just flew in from Paris and boy are my arms tired!
    Methinks that the Wagamama was a most interesting dining experience! It's not often that your waiter writes your order selection number on your placemat and you never see him again! Some slick runner trolls out of the kitchen area sometime later and slaps your plats down in front of you. Seriously! The food was average at best, but certainly over priced! I guess if you're used to paying for your grams of food in Pounds, it may be reasonable, but short of its location, (highly trafficked by tourists who know the name from international experiences), all I see this place has going for it is its bright lights!"

    Thanks Drew!

    10:03 PM  
    Anonymous the fussy eater said...

    Wagamama is certainly not a place I would recommend for a healthy meal.
    The noisy atmosphere and the unusual way of taking your order is just their style and for the British the prices are not too bad.
    The quality of the food and their levels of professionalism regarding hygiene are certainly not ideal!

    3:42 AM  

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