This is the second of two back-to-back reviews of ramen bars, unfortunately we have moved from lackluster to bad. After a long period of construction and renovation Yokohama Ramen recently opened in Northampton MA. There seems to be some major consistency issues at Yokohama, a friend I trust, told me they had good ramen there, but my meal was terrible. After meals like this I wish I had Pete Wells’ talent for writing negative restaurant reviews (see his classic review of Guy’s American Kitchen & Bar in Times Square)
Before I get to the dumplings, I’ll say a little about the ramen I had there. The pork, spinach and egg fixings in the tonkatsu ramen I was served were all cold, which was a little off putting. Several Yelp reviews suggest that Yokohama’s chefs take the ramen fixings straight out of the refrigerator and just lay them on top of the broth in the bowl and then serve it. I have eaten a lot of ramen and have never seen this done before and worse there is an extra charge to get a cold egg added to your ramen. The broth itself was lukewarm, and tasteless and watery at the top of the bowl and thick and nasty tasting at the bottom of the bowl. I suspect they use bagged, pre-made broth and my bowl was made from a batch they had not yet fully mixed and heated. I won’t be going back there until the Yelp ratings start going up, currently they are at 2.5 stars.
The Dumplings: Yokohama serves takoyaki and pork gyoza, both of which were low quality. Each of the takoyaki was flat on the bottom and dome shaped rather than spherical, so I think they are using frozen takoyaki and tossing them into a deep fryer to cook them. They were served on the plate in a slightly serpentine line that made them look like a caterpillar, maybe this is references to Eric Carle who lived locally. The takoyaki were criminally under dressed, with a few squeeze bottle squirts of sauce and a desultory sprinkle of a few flakes of bonito.
The pork gyoza were equally lack luster. The bottoms of the gyoza were under pan-fried and approached, but didn’t quit make it to, a crispy texture and golden color. Although I panned Zurutto Ramen and Gyoza Bar’s gyoza filling, they at least know how to cook gyoza well, Yokohama should take note. The filling of Yokohama’s gyoza had a mushy and mealy texture and very little flavor. I think they are using frozen gyoza and haven’t yet figured out which are the good brands or how to properly cook them.
The Dipping Sauce: insipid, uninspired and watery.
The Location: Yokohama Ramen is in downtown Northampton MA at 88 Main street near the main intersection with route 5 in town. If you are visiting and want some good gyoza check out Moshi Moshi down the street.