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PLACES YOU COULD HANG: Boston’s Unofficial Little Tokyo


Little Tokyo exists in Boston! It’s unofficial, the size of an alley, and located in a Porter Square mall.

The Shops at Porter hosts a collection of mom-and-pops serving specialized Japanese cuisine. These aren’t fancy fusion restaurants with encyclopedia-sized menus. No – these pocket-sized establishments serve only the items they do best. These restaurants do not compete, but rather create a real cultural experience where you’ll find Japanese patrons feeling at home.

You’ll find this enclave steps from the MBTA stop. A tour of foods is available including tempura, sushi, hamburg, ramen, and moshi. Each establishment has several tables where you’ll be seated adjacent to the counter where your food is prepared. Cash is king in Boston’s unofficial Little Tokyo, so don’t forget to hit an ATM before visiting.

This is food for the people, by the people. Everything is affordable, with lunch specials starting at $6. An interesting eat is the Japanese Hamburg at Café Mami. This take on Salisbury steak dates back to the western influence in 19th century Japanese ports. If you venture into the alley, you’ll find excellent donbori, ramen and tempura. Finally, the Japonaise Bakery & Cafe (temporarily closed) provides amazing desserts. For $1.50, you can eat mochi flavors like green tea, pistachio, and coconut.

Boston’s unofficial Little Tokyo has a kind of magic that we risk losing if our cities become playgrounds for the rich.  This is food made for the working class.  It’s food made with character, hard work, and pride.  –D. Dabek

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