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Tampopo satisfies cravings with affordable, comfort Japanese food

Hidden in what is basically Lesley University’s mall in Porter Square, there is a row of mom-and-pop restaurants that is heaven for Japanese food lovers. They are several tiny Japanese restaurants with few seats and many voracious customers. The tables are packed on a late Friday night, with customers hovering around Café Mami, Sapporo Ramen, and Tampopo waiting to snag a free seat. Hoping for some good ‘ole comfort food, I waited with my friend for a spot at Tampopo. After about a 10 minutes idling by, there were still no seats but the waitress took our order anyway. I ordered a curry croquette and pork katsudon while my friend got curry chicken. One table had been done for about 15 minutes so the waitress shooed them away and alas we had a table. Don’t expect quality service here—it’s in-and-out and all about efficiency and good food. Take your business to L’Espalier if you want to be waited on hand and foot.

The food came quickly, but just our two main dishes. The croquette never came out and after I had finished my pork katsudon, the waitress asked if I would still like it. Nope. The bowl of rice was filling enough on its own. Each entrée came with miso soup. We never got spoons so we just slurped it up like the hungry heathen we are. The miso soup was nothing memorable, but it was comforting nonetheless on a cold winter night.

My pork katsudon was a nicely fried, thin cut of pork chop on top of rice. It was topped with an egg, a dollop of caramelized onions, and strips of seaweed. There was a chunk of really fresh ginger strips alongside as well. The rice was the fluffy Japanese short-grain that just melted in your mouth. The warm bowl of rice and fried pork and egg was comforting and overall pretty good. I have had better katsudon, but there are not many cheap Japanese options in the Boston/Great Boston area. Sadly, I didn’t get to try my friend’s chicken curry, but he seemed to enjoy it.

Tampopo is probably your best bet for Japanese food in the area and it’s just a 20 minute walk for Tufts students. It’s cheap and fast and you can pick up a little dessert at the Japonaise Bakery right across the hall. Not the best Japanese food, but it’s perfect to satisfy the craving for some Japanese comfort food.

1815 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02140
(617) 868-5457

Ambiance: B-
Service: B-
Food (taste): B
Food (presentation): B-
Price: $10/person
Overall: B-

– Christina Pan

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