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Lunch, Anyone? Ganko Ittetsu Ramen

Sapporo-style ramen tucked away in Coolidge Corner

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Looking for a new spot to grab a hearty lunch? Ganko Ittetsu Ramen, opened last October in Coolidge Corner, fits the bill. You may have walked by and not even known it was there: this tiny gem is nestled inside the Coolidge Corner Arcade, the historic indoor atrium on Harvard Street.

Practically every region of Japan has its unique version of ramen. The folks behind Ganko Ittetsu turned to Sapporo, the largest city on the Northern Japanese island of Hokkaido, for inspiration, in part because the city’s climate is so similar to Boston’s—warm summers and cold, snowy winters. Sapporo-style ramen, unlike most ramen, is prepared in a wok. Usually ramen is made by mixing tare (sauce) and the base broth in a bowl, then adding noodles and other ingredients, but with Sapporo ramen soup, the tare is caramelized with vegetables before the base broth is added. This makes it even deeper and more flavorful, and although it takes more effort and skill, the results are worth it, says chef-owner Ken Iwakoa.

We went to Ganko Ittetsu on a weekday afternoon to judge whether the shop’s ramen was as unique as it claims. The tiny place—with a small bar and walls covered with gray and red beads hanging over sketches of people slurping ramen—seats just under 20, but we were able sit right away.

The gantetsu shoyu special jazzes up the shop’s standard shoyu ramen with tan tan pork, bean sprouts, crunchy garlic, and more.

The gantetsu shoyu special jazzes up the shop’s standard shoyu ramen with tan tan pork, bean sprouts, crunchy garlic, and more.

Ganko Ittetsu has only three ramen options: tan tan, with a spicy sesame broth; shoyu, with a soy sauce broth; and miso, with a broth made from the fermented soybean paste essential to Japanese cuisine. The restaurant was also offering two specials that day, a gankara miso ($14), which is standard miso broth with the spicy chili paste gankara added, accompanied by sliced miso pork, tan-tan pork (ground pork), bean sprouts, corn, scallions, wakame, seaweed, and a five-minute egg, one of many toppings that can be added to any of the ramen dishes. The second special, gantetsu shoyu ($14), had tan tan pork, sliced miso pork, a five-minute egg, bean sprouts, crunchy garlic, fish oil, white pepper, and sesame seeds. The egg ($1) is placed in an ice bath after cooking for five minutes so the yolk stays soft. Among other toppings are black garlic oil ($1) and miso pork ($2).

We had a hard time deciding what to pick, but opted first for the tan tan ramen ($13), a spicy sesame ramen topped with pickled vegetables, sautéed cabbage, ground pork, corn, cilantro, scallions, spicy sesame oil, wakame, and sesame seeds. The thick, creamy broth had a strong sesame flavor and was unlike any ramen we’d had before. The spicy sesame oil balanced its almost overwhelming richness and provided a nice but subtle kick. The ground pork was tender and flavorful—we found ourselves scraping the bottom of the bowl. The cilantro, wakame, and corn added a chewy texture and were a welcome addition to the heaviness. It’s a solid dish with many tasty components, but we found no pickled vegetable, and the noodles weren’t as chewy as we expected. The miso ramen ($13), sliced pulled pork, onion, corn, seasoned scallions, sautéed cabbage, a five-minute egg, iwa-nori, and sesame seeds looked delicious. The menu’s third ramen, shoyu, consists of pulled pork, diced onion, scallions, nori, sesame seed, and a five-minute egg.

Along with the tan tan ramen, we chose the gantetsu shoyu special. After mixing the heaping bean sprouts and garlic into the bowl, we tasted the broth. Its deep, meaty flavor is similar to tonkotsu pork broth, but not as oily. It wasn’t as heavy as the tan tan broth, but packed amazing flavor. The sliced miso pork was melt-in-your-mouth tender, and the bean sprouts provided freshness and crunch. The garlic gave it wonderful bursts of flavor, but we would have liked more. The five-minute egg, with a soft but not too runny yolk, was an essential addition we’d recommend adding to any ramen. We enjoyed this dish the most and are looking forward to trying more specials.

Ganko Ittetsu is in the Coolidge Corner Arcade in Brookline.

Ganko Ittetsu is in the Coolidge Corner Arcade in Brookline.

This Japanese restaurant aims to serve the kind of authentic ramen you’d find in Sapporo. The customized noodles created for Ganko Ittetsu Ramen by a Japanese noodle company are flown in from Sapporo and the soy sauce and ramen are imported from a Japanese microbrewery.

Plan to come hungry: we couldn’t finish either of our dishes. You’re sure to feel full and very satisfied after a meal here.

Ganko Ittetsu Ramen, 318 Harvard St., Brookline, is open Monday to Sunday, 11:30 a.m. to 9 p.m.; phone: 617-730-8100. Takeout and delivery are not available. Find the menu here. The restaurant accepts all major credit cards. Take an MBTA Green Line C trolley to Coolidge Corner and walk.

This is part of a weekly series featuring Boston lunch spots of interest to the BU community. If you have any suggestions for places we should feature, leave them in the Comment section below.

Kylie Obermeier can be reached at kylieko@bu.edu; follow her on Twitter at @kyliekobermeier.

1 Comments

One Comment on Lunch, Anyone? Ganko Ittetsu Ramen

  • Dylan on 07.11.2018 at 5:01 am

    Got to check it out. Thanks for the idea.

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