Lunch at Porter Exchange: Sapporo Ramen and the Japonaise Bakery
I found myself in Porter Square Exchange building today doing errands, among them trying the Sapporo Ramen restaurant for the first time. I have heard about this place and the great reviews
for over a decade, but in all this time never made in. Now that I have, I found myself completely under whelmed.
The first thing that struck me was the low rent dining area. You eat at one of three card tables covered by a picnic type tablecloth and surrounded by folding chairs. It made the strip mall Chinese restaurant (assuming it has a booths for eat-in dining) look like an upscale restaurant.
I ordered the Miso soup (they have three types- Miso, soy sauce flavored, and clear), miso broth containing roast pork, ground pork, bamboo shoots, and scallions. I also ordered a side of pork filled Gyoza (the Japanese version of Chinese dumplings, the difference is a wonton shell versus a more doughy dumpling type shell).
The soup came in a big bowl that was certainly of everything, but it turned out to be just an incredibly mediocre dish. There was plenty of broth and add-ins, but really nothing to rave about. I also found the soup to be inconsistent with the flavorI got odd bursts of a strong miso taste at inconsistent moments, almost as if there were flavor pockets in certain parts of the bowl. I thought this odd because I stirred the soup thoroughly before starting to eat.
I really liked the gyyoza. They were pan-fried and very light tasting, not too over or under done, as can be the case with these items. FYI, the gyoza is pre-made and simply put from a wholesale club package into the fry pan to be cooked.
All in all, I wouldnt make a special trip to go back to Sapporo Ramen. I might try again, but with a different soup.
The Japonaise (French for Japanese) Bakery made up for the soup. This is a like a kiosk booth at the local mall instead of a full-blown bakery. I did find out their main bakery is in Brookline on Beacon Street and their products are a fusion of Japanese and French styles. They offered croissants, filled pastry, croissants, cheesecake by the slice, among others. I didnt know what I wanted so I asked the sales person working the counter. She asked if I wanted a sweet or savory itema thought which hadnt occurred to me. Keeping in mind the soup for lunch, I opted for a sweet. She opted and I eventually chose a pastry filled with Akuna cream (sp? Sounding something like this) and sweet red bean paste; and dusted with confectioners sugar. This pastry was very good. After biting in, I saw that the red bean paste was spread on the inside bottom and the cream placed on top. The pastry also has a blowhole type opening on the top which the cream comes out of when you bite in. Be forewarned though, the sugar falls off and goes everywhere. This place, I will make a special point to go to Brookline for. I did some research and the Brookline location is also a café with sandwiches and drinks, etc.