For a couple of months now, there has been a huge buzz around ramen in Boston, the popular Asian noodle dish. While noodle bars have been sweeping the nation for years already, Beantown has recently decided to jump on the bandwagon.
Apart from ramen shops in Chinatown that have been around for a while, the current ramen craze can largely be attributed to the new Guchi Midnight Ramen Pop-up. I have yet to make it to one of their pop-up dinners and am still kicking myself for giving up my invitation to their opening weekend. Freshly renovated Uni Sashimi Bar, located in Clio restaurant has also started a "late-night ramen" extravaganza. Theirs is served Thursday through Saturday every week from 11 to closing.
Uni's renovations are subtle but effective; they have changed the paneling of the walls to light wood, which gives the whole space a more "bar-esque" feel. Low Japanese-style seating is also a new addition.
Chef Ken Oringer's idea for the late-night ramen special was to bring everything down a notch to allow for a more casual experience. One detail that really stands out is that the menus are written on pieces of cardboard. Although ramen is the main attraction, there are other little tidbits that are equally delightful. We ordered the deep-fried chicken skins with flavored rice sandwiched in between. They were tasty and salty, a great way to hike up that ramen thirst. My personal favorite was the steamed buns of which they had two flavors, pork belly and duck. Both were beautifully seasoned with extra crunch coming from pickled vegetables in the pork belly and a layer of fried skin for the duck. I really love the super doughy texture of the buns... it somehow feels like being a kid again.
Once we finished our starters, our ramen arrived. Traditionally, ramen comes served heaping in big bowls. You are faced with a massive quantity of steaming broth topped with various accoutrements. At Uni, the serving is a little small, but the taste is quite commendable. I ordered the umami which comes with barbecued unagi (eel) and a somewhere between hard- and soft-boiled egg, traditional of most ramen dishes. The noodles were very well cooked, the unagi was a delight, but I did, however, find the broth to be a bit too thick, it was almost like a curry... a very tasty curry, though.
All in all, it is a fine option for late-night diners — I would return without much need of convincing, though I would be happier still if the steamed buns were not $8 each. The bowls of ramen at $10 is a much better deal.
Although Boston is a bit late to this trend, it is most definitely better than never.