Breaking the Mold, One Bowl of Ramen at a Time

The one feeling I hate most in this world is when I feel trapped in a rut. When I’m at school during the year, summer and being home in California sound like an alleviating of the monotony of the everyday, weekly schedule that I go through. Once I’m home and start working, I build the same hope about going back to school. Sometimes it seems as though I can never break free from a uniform, cyclical schedule. When I really need to get out of this mindset, though, one solution has always proven helpful.

Pikaichi is the ramen house I venture to when I feel I need to break away from dining hall food or the monstrosities that are my own home-cooked meals.

Ever since I discovered this fabulous little hole in the wall early last year, I’ve been venturing out on the B Line to the Brighton Ave. stop every so often to get my favorite dish in all of Boston: Pikaichi’s Spicy Miso Ramen. The ride might take 20 or 30 minutes, but it’s worth it every time.

While this dish isn’t at all the only ramen bowl that Pikaichi serves, it is far and away my favorite. Built from a miso broth with a hell of a kick, the Spicy Miso Ramen combines scallions, pork slices, nori, special shrimp oil, and Pikaichi’s custom ramen noodles to make a ramen bowl with a wide spectrum of flavors and textures.

Each bowl looks painstakingly configured, almost to the point where I feel sorry for disturbing its aesthetic. The ramen has the perfect amount of spice to it: just enough to let you know that it’s there but, not so much that it overwhelms the dish. Of course, there are other meals from Pikaichi to recommend, but it has come to point where I don’t even ask for a menu anymore because I already know I’ll be having the Spicy Miso Ramen.

Besides the Spicy Miso Ramen bowl, Pikaichi serves five other ramen dishes and several other meals. Both the Tokyo Shoyu and the Jigoku Ramen bowls have an excellent soy sauce-based broth.

The Tokyo Shoyu bowl has many of components of the Spicy Miso Ramen, but lacks its special kick, while the the Jigoku Ramen bowl, the spiciest dish that Pikaichi has, might have too much spice for those who aren’t prepared for it.

Also notable are Pikaichi’s Donburi bowls, which are a mix of pork, chicken, or tofu, and rice, eggs, and different types of veggies. Of these, the Spicy Oyako Don is to die for. Its mix of soy sauce and chili mayo almost makes it as great as the Spicy Miso Ramen bowl.

As far as sides go, it’s hard to beat the simple yet flavorful Tatsuta, which is a couple pieces of Pikaichi’s fried chicken and a side of chili mayo. While I usually only come to Pikaichi for a ramen bowl, I’ve always been pleasantly surprised by the other dishes that I stray away from my usual ramen for.

The ramen house is part of a large Asian food conglomerate: Super 88 Market, or 88 Food Connection. One can find little kiosks featuring restaurants like Kantin, Dim Sum, and Lollicup, among a horde of other sushi bars and Chinese, Japanese, and Korean food vendors.

At the back of the building is the Hong Kong Market, a large Chinese supermarket that sells all kinds of Chinese delicacies, like Thousand-Layer Cakes, and a wide variety of soy and oyster sauces.

While I always wander out to the Allston Super 88 Market for Pikaichi, it’s interesting to see the wide spectrum of Asian meals the locale offers, as well as to pick up some more authentic Asian goodies at the Hong Kong Market.

It’s important to break molds every once in a while. If you’re anything like me, the worst part about the school year is getting stuck in the same routine, week after week after week. Venturing out to Pikaichi helps me dull that sensation, as the long T ride and variety of flavors in my ramen bowl shake me out of the academic mindset. For a few hours, I can forget the semester’s nuisances.

Featured Image by Amelie Trieu / Heights Editor

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About Chris Fuller