Yume Ga Arukara, Porter Sq., Cambridge MA

had to go to Harvard Sq. in the morning on Friday, and tried to go to Santouka Ramen for lunch. One look at the place being jammed made me calculate I’d never eat and make it back to my parking meter in time and that led to Plan B: Yume Ga Arukara, the udon noodle place in Porter Square exchange.

I don’t know that much about the origins of the place–I know it’s related to the nearby ramen joint, Yume Wo Katare, to which I have not been. What little I’ve read said that they had imported their noodle maker from Japan and serve just niku udon, a beef noodle dish.

They serve cold udon at lunch (though I heard the host tell someone they were hoping to open at dinner next week for hot soup), so basically what you get is a bowl of noodles, some scallions, a pile of hot beef, some grated radish, a lemon slice and a dashi broth. You’re instructed not to mix the beef with the noodles, but to eat them separately. And it’s really good–the broth has depth, the scallions and lemon and radish work together as elements, the noodles are firm and chewy and the side of beef adds a salty savoriness.

The set up is classic Japan stall–two rows of seats, shouted greetings and farewells, concentration on a single item done well. The basic bowl is 12$. You can get extra beef or noodles, but there’s not much variation beyond that. And that’s a good thing.



passing_thru began this thread, p_t mentioned this place here and there, then p_t left us…

OK, so I’ll be a poor, poor sub for p_t: I ate at YGA last week. It was a fascinating, odd, reasonably tasty experience. They open at 11. I got there at 10:48. I’d attempted to get in on two occasions over the previous year, but had failed (once after waiting briefly in line while they counted their noodles and asked people ahead of me if they wanted single-, double-, triple- or quadruple- servings, then got to me and said “no noodles for you”), and I was taking no chances. There was a young man taking the staff through their paces (how could they need such basic training for a place that’s not new?): “Clean all the counters!” “Keep the food containers closed!” “If you have nothing to do, ask me – I have twenty things I can make you do!” “Do me a favor and pour the old oil out!” I wandered off line briefly only to be barked at “Please move behind the pole, sir!” Eventually at 11 the training ended – but then the chanting began. “Good job!” was the main one. They began seating us at 11:07.

My spicy cold noodles with beef were fine, but the noodles were slimy and came from a big plastic box that clearly contained yesterday’s noodles. They had started making fresh ones – intriguingly in flexible nets immersed in boiling water – after I sat down, but those were not the ones we first batch of lunchers were getting. Everything was fine. Nothing was memorable. I’ll be back to sample some more, but I wasn’t blown away by this initial experience.

Oh, and the “Good job” chants they were practicing are aimed not at each other – I initially thought it a morale-building exercise – but at unwary diners as they leave.

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Try Futago Udon. Great noodles and a more expansive menu without the wait or the hoopla.

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Thanks for this reminder! I know you posted about it a while back but some of us need to hear it a couple of times!

Thanks. Will do so.

The other awkward aspect about YGA is that they force you to sit in order, first at the counter then (when space runs out) at the table behind it. The spots have numbers assigned and this makes it easier for them to keep track of who has ordered what. Stool #1 is order #1, etc. I can see the convenience to them, but it’s not terribly nice for you as a diner if you prefer a particular spot.

old noodles is bad! i’m still a fan of this place, though i only go for dinner (and i get out of work at 4:30, so i get there when it opens)

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