It took a long time, but, finally, my neighborhood of Harvard Square where I can walk to have something to eat, has restaurants worth visiting. Night Market opened in the past few months. Santouka opened a few weeks ago.
Night Market is a pan-Asian restaurant with a counter in a cellar setting with a small, focused menu of small plates which emphasize vegetables paired with chicken, beef, pork, or tofu. Many items are Thai-inspired, some are Taiwanese, a couple are Japanese.
Santouka is the 32nd outpost of a ramen franchise that opened in Hokkaido almost twenty years ago. Thick, milky colored pork broths, great noodles that are outsourced, and a room where jazz plays and the North American staff greet you in Japanese. You might as well be in Tokyo except for the prices. In Tokyo a bowl of ramen at Santouka, tax and service included, is $9. Here it’s $15.
Both new restaurants share an appreciation and understanding of flavors, textures, serving sizes, atmosphere, and presentations that are associated with several Asian countries.
You can be sure that their approach will catch on here and throughout the city.
In five years you’ll see the dinosaurs of restaurants die out. Bye-bye burgers, offal, $15-18 appetizers of vegetables with fancy sauces, stuff fried in duck fat, so many ingredients on a plate that you know the chef must be a genius, pork or veal fourteen ways, and the chef’s interpretation of what he or she thinks is French food.
Asia. Think Asia. Focused plates with a few perfect or near perfect ingredients that draw on tradition and create new versions. The idea is to please the guest. What a concept.