In Japan, noodle shops are a beloved institution, especially on cold and soggy days. Office workers pack into shops and slurp up soup to their bellies’ content. Across the north Pacific, there’s no pleasure quite like a steaming bowl of noodles on a mid-winter lunch break.
The East Side has dozens of options for quality East Asian cuisine, and in every variety – Korean, Thai, Chinese, Vietnamese – so there’s no shortage of egg rolls and sashimi. But if you’re looking for a soul-warming bowl of noodle soup, the kind you might find in the drizzling streets of Tokyo or Beijing, here are four fast and tasty options.
There are so many reasons to visit Wara Wara, including the raw bar and robust tapas menu. But the restaurant’s five types of ramen are a major draw. On the more carnivorous end, you can order the 30 Hour Ramen, with its pork knuckle broth and seafood medley. For a more plant-based approach, there’s the Vegetable Miso Ramen, a savory symphony of tofu and bok choy in a miso base. 776 Hope Street
If you don’t know this quiet neighborhood well, you might need GPS to track down Noodles 102 – but you’ll be grateful that you did. Not only does the restaurant have a homey atmosphere, but you have surprising control over your soup bowl: Pick the broth, protein, and type of pasta from a list of options. Noodles include udon, bean thread, black rice, egg noodles, pho, soba, and somen. If you’re facing option paralysis, there are plenty of traditional mainstays, like Pad Thai and Tom Yam. Perfect for a date night or lunch break with colleagues. 102 Ives Street
When Ganko Ittetsu opened in Cambridge, Massachusetts, a few years ago, the management wanted to prove how dynamic the stock Japanese noodle could be. This wasn’t just any ramen; the Ganko recipes hail from the city of Sapporo, which has just about the same weather patterns that Rhode Island does. Quick, slick, and affordable, Ganko’s second location on Thayer Street is a godsend for both students and College Hill professionals. 215 Thayer Street
Fans of Japanese cooking frequently drop into Haruki Express for supplies, because the College Hill location is known widely as a grocery store. Beyond that, the bodega serves as a sushi spot. But you can also score some affordable soba and udon soups, with optional sides of tempura shrimp and a 50-cent fish cake. For on-the-go East Siders with a hankering for noodles, Haruki is a delicious surprise. 112 Waterman Street