Prepare yourself for some serious slurping action: Hokkaido-based Santouka opens its first standalone ramen location in New England this month. Santouka is named for Taneda Santouka, described as “the wandering Zen monk known for his creative touches to simple haiku poetry.” Tucked into the former Dunkin’ Donuts space at 1 Bow St., the ramen shop features a mild salt-base tonkotsu soup that’s simmered for 20 hours with pork bones, dried fish and vegetables. Add a little of the pickled plum called umeboshi, and it’s perfect sustenance in the middle of winter. Clearly, it hits the spot in Japan and beyond, too. Santouka began in 1988 as a nine-seat family-owned shop in Japan, but it has since expanded to a total of 53 restaurants in 10 countries.
Alden & Harlow is already plenty popular one year after opening, but its new late-night menu can only enhance the restaurant’s reputation. Customers popping by late in the evening can still order a few items from the dinner menu, including the show-stopping charred broccoli, richly appointed with ground cashews, Bianco Sardo and butternut squash hummus. But if you’re craving something different, order the plump, juicy popcorn snails, trail them through a swirl of Calabrian chili oil, and then dip them into a ramekin of parsley and garlic ranch dressing. Even better is a trio of roasted cauliflower pierogi atop buttermilk crema, accented by sage and the juicy tartness of pickled cherries.
“The place has been transformed. You wouldn’t recognize it—Chez Who?” Susan Regis quips about the forthcoming Shepard in Cambridge. The interior of the former home of Chez Henri has been revamped with a warm, hospitable vibe, says Regis, who is chef and co-owner with Rene Becker of Hi-Rise Bread Company. As for the menu, she’ll only reveal that it “will include a few snacks perfect for the bar.” Expect Shepard to open its doors by the end of February, Regis says.