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Snappy Ramen: Davis Square’s new noodle joint that’s definitely worth a try

RESTAURANT REVIEW: Snappy Ramen

The sign on the door declares, “No Sushi,” anticipating the confusion of customers who cannot get out of their minds, the alliteration of “SNAPPY SUSHI.”

Snappy Ramen, which evolved out of Snappy Sushi, has been selling ramen and fusion foods at 420 Highland Avenue since August 2013.

Once you walk through the door, past the large Japanese characters for ramen (らーめん) on clear windows, you enter a world of steamy, savory scents.

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The restaurant, which has another outlet on Newbury Street, has seats for up to twenty people. Six can be seated at the bar, where one can watch chefs craft bowls of ramen on the other side. Another twelve sit around a large wooden table, where napkins, water jugs and pleasing decorations make for a pleasantly comfortable shared space.

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You will be given a slip of paper, on which you can indicate what you want, and in what quantities. The menu is simple and straightforward, and does its best to explain what sometimes can only be understood with the tongue. Thorough descriptions of each bowl guide you through the seven main ramen options, which are divided into two categories : Assari Tonkotsu, and Kotteri Tonkotsu.

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While Kotteri is “rich and velvety” compared to the “light and milky” Assari, both are still denser and more flavorful than what I’m used to. The first time I went there, I got the Spicy Miso Kotteri from the latter category; last night, I tried the Eggs Benedict Assari from the former. I left feeling stuffed, like I needed to lie down on that strong, tan table. Perhaps their noodle portions are very generous, or their soup is too rich a challenge for my tummy. That said, it is to the credit of Snappy Ramen that I felt compelled to take one more bite, to scoop up a little more salty soup, until there was barely anything left. I breathed a little satisfied sigh of relief that this was Snappy Ramen and not Snappy Udon.

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If you’re not really hungry, or not in the mood for ramen broth made from scratch over 4-6 hours, Snappy Ramen also sells steamed buns for $7 a pair, or $4 individually. These steamed buns make up 20% of Snappy Ramen’s menu. There are only two types of steamed buns you can get, and nobody in Snappy Ramen, which was completely packed with a line of 6 people, ordered anything but ramen. This is not a place where you will be stumped with a deluge of categories and choices. However, it is not always an easy decision between “Kotteri…with spicy miso, Berkshire pork belly kakuni, steamed cabbage, wood cut mushrooms, and nitamago boiled egg” and “Assari…with onsen soft egg, smoked bacon, wasabi mayo, grated Parmigiano, baby arugula, and truffle oil”. Both sound equally tasteful, and both are delectable.

It all boils down to what kind of a ramen eater you are, and this will only be clear when you put that spoon into your mouth.

So I’m not a ramen person, and I feel that one should have different bowls of ramen at multiple restaurants before deciding that for oneself. Sapporo Ramen, Yume Wo Katare and Snappy Ramen all have their own style of ramen, and adoration for one doesn’t necessarily exclude one’s love for another (which is good news for all ramen shops in the area). What does this mean? If you don’t like the good dishes at a particular restaurant, it’s not that they don’t make good ramen, it’s that their good ramen doesn’t cater to your taste. You can rest assured that the quality of their ingredients is fresh, and the combination of ingredients is delightful and balanced, albeit on the richer and saltier side. But that’s what ramen is, so take my stuffed satiety with a pinch of salt. Besides, some hot sake at $6 ~ $9 should help wash that hearty bowl down.

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Snappy Ramen’s prices range from $9 ~ $14, where add-ons like abura-age tofu skin and jalapeño come at $1 ~ $2 each. With $9 Wednesdays, where any ramen is $9, there is yet another reason to have this traditional ramen with an indisputable feel of fusion.

Ambiance: A-

Service: B+

Food (taste): A-

Food (presentation): B+

Price: $14/person

Overall: A-

-Min Yi Tan

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