photo credit: Natalie Schaefer
Yume Wo Katare
Sharing your innermost dreams out loud is generally something that stops around middle school. At a certain point, revealing that you intend to become both a firefighter and the catcher for the Boston Red Sox isn’t really cute anymore. But the upside of keeping your dreams to yourself is that you won’t disappoint anybody if you don’t achieve them. It’s a defense mechanism against failure, and it’s the greatest advantage of living an emotionally closed-off life (along with being the funniest person at funerals).
But Yume Wo Katare in Porter Square will make you rethink the decision to keep your innermost desires to yourself. It’s a ramen place that literally asks you to share your dreams. Out loud. In front of everyone else at the restaurant. You’re not going to want to do it, but here’s the thing - once you’re inside, where the incredibly rich broth makes you happy beyond words, and where a few strangers and the chef himself sincerely share their dreams with you (which, since we’re in Cambridge, frequently involve finishing a dissertation of some kind), you might find that you’re willing to open yourself up a little, after all. That’s the power of the ramen at Yume.
This place is very tiny, with room for about 20 diners who sit in rows facing the kitchen like it’s a noodle classroom (again, Cambridge). You’ll probably have to wait outside for a little while to get in, but the line moves fairly quickly. If you’re a picky eater - or just someone who enjoys free will - don’t bother waiting, because when you get in you’ll find just one thing on the menu. It’s a bowl of pork ramen, and the only choices you get are whether you want two pieces of pork or five, along with the option to add “delicious garlic.” Luckily, though, that single bowl of ramen is close to perfect. The broth is rich, fatty, and should be bottled and sold alongside Snapple at 7-11. The pork is fall-apart-in-your-mouth tender. And the thick noodles have a great bite to them.
Consider yourself warned that when you tap out, you’re going to be publicly judged on your eating performance. The staff will peer into your bowl and tell the rest of the restaurant how you did. The bowl is huge as it is, and if you feel bad about not being able to finish, you may come to regret adding the delicious garlic, which ended up being a heap of garlic so big that your order likely caused a devastating breadstick shortage at a nearby Olive Garden. But don’t be too hard on yourself if you merely get a “good job” instead of a “perfect” - this place is about making yourself feel good.
Which brings us back to the dreams. You’re initially asked if you want to share your dreams when you first enter the restaurant. Regardless of what decision you made then, you’ll get a chance to reevaluate after you finish. Lean in, this is why you came here.
As your bowl is cleared, the music turns off and the chefs behind the counter stop their work. Five or six Yume employees, 20 slurping strangers, and an empty bowl of noodles all wait for you to make yourself emotionally vulnerable. It’s not easy, but come on, you just finished the ramen of your dreams, so you probably need a new goal anyway. You might as well hold yourself accountable by putting it out into the world.
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The ingredients are pretty simple - tender pork, fatty broth, thick noodles, and delicious garlic. But the result is a rich bowl of ramen that you’d gladly swim around in if you could, floating from Noodle Island to Cape Garlic to Sprout Cove as you eat your way through the warm seas.