There aren’t as many ramen joints in our area as there are in other parts of Greater Boston. We ended up at Ginger Asian Fusion in downtown Salem because some people in the /r/SalemMA subreddit on Reddit said they had decent ramen. This restaurant serves Louisiana-style dishes like po’boy sandwiches and seafood-in-a-bag alongside sushi, Chinese noodle dishes, and other Asian items. Kind of a weird combo, but hey.
This was a pretty basic bowl of pork ramen. Pork broth, several slices of chashu pork, some baby bok choy, and a medium cooked egg, plus the noodles. It certainly fit the bill, but no comparison to the good ramen joints we like in Cambridge and Somerville, or the late, lamented Amateras Ramen in Boston. The broth was recognizably pork, but nowhere near the depth of flavor of the tonkotsu broth that cooks for hours and hours. The chashu pork slices were tender and tasty; it looked lke maybe they used pork tenderloin to make it. The baby bok choy was a nice addition. I prefer my egg to be “jammy”, but at least this wasn’t hard-boiled to death. The noodles themselves were of good quality and had good texture. Overall, this would not be my first choice for a bowl of ramen, but good enough to satisfy an urge without driving a long way.
Haven’t made ramen at home for a while. I think this was the last time I did, two years ago. I made my own dashi, which necessitated buying some kombu and bonito flakes at the Asian supermarket, but you can also buy instant dashi, which works just fine. This was miso ramen, so in addition to dashi, you need red miso paste. You also need some stock in addition to the dashi. I used Rachael Ray vegetable stock. Most ramen places we go to use their own pork stock made from scratch, but while homemade dashi only takes a few minutes, homemade pork stock takes hours and hours. It is on my list of cooking projects to do someday, just not that day. We had fresh ramen noodles on hand at the time, so we didn’t have to buy them at the H-Mart. If you don’t have a readily available Asian grocery, Amazon sells just about everything you might need for this, as does Umamicart.com. The other fresh ingredients all came from our regular supermarket.
Between instant dashi and boxed stock, you can make up ramen broth very quickly, so it’s totally do-able as a weeknight meal. The dried ramen you get on the cheap at the grocery store is an acceptable alternative if fresh ramen is hard to come by. Just cook it in some plain boiling water and add it to the broth. The rest of this bowl was some chopped fresh spinach, some frozen corn that I briefly microwaved, a 6-minute soft-boiled egg, and some enoki mushrooms.
It was back to Cambridge on Saturday to pick up the desk we had ordered a couple of weeks ago, so for our lunch this time we ate at Santouka Ramen. It’s Hokkaido-style ramen, and one of the best ramen places around Boston. My absolute favorite ramen spot is Amateras Ramen, near South Station.
We were able to get a 30-minute parking spot directly in front of the restaurant, which was a small miracle. The place was absolutely jammed, and yet we managed to wait for a table, order, eat lunch, and get back to the car only 10 minutes after the meter expired – and didn’t get a ticket! Yay!
Seriously great ramen. Seriously great. I had the shoyu ramen and my wife had the spicy miso ramen.