At the small mall in Porter Square, there have been some changes in recent times. Some places have vanished, to be replaced by others. Fortunately, the Asian restaurants have remained, especially my favorite, Tampopo. And as Tampopo has made a few cosmetic changes, I am hoping it will remain for some time to come.
Tampopo is a hole-in-the-wall, with about five seats at a counter and maybe five small tables. But it sells inexpensive and delicious Japanese food, an excellent variety from tempura to kara age, from curry bowls to katsu. They have a new menu, though the choices have not really changed much. And the walls have new photos of the food, all intended to entice you into the restaurant. It can be a busy place, especially at lunch or dinner time, and you might even have to wait for a seat.
Usually when I go, I get a variety of items, my own tasting menu of sorts. I have enjoyed everything I have eaten here and the quality has been consistent throughout my numerous visits. I might begin with fried shrimp shumai, a corn croquette and some shrimp tempura. And they do have a delicious tempura, just a perfect light batter on good-sized pieces of shrimp. The chicken kara-age is one of my favorite dishes, moist pieces of chicken with a light batter and accompanied by a savory BBQ sauce. The matsu bento box is a great way to sample several of the different foods they serve.
For two people, it usually costs me around $25, but then we also get a ton of food. You could easily pay less and still be satisfied with the amount of food. Service is very good and it feels like a family business. Some of the same people have been working there for years, since I first started going.
And after eating, I always have to stop at the nearby Japonaise Bakery, for their superb shoku pan, sliced white bread that is thick, fresh and delicious. It makes great French toast.
Porter Square Food Court
1815 Massachusetts Ave