Something I noticed about Boston is that there is quite a strong Asian community in this town. When I found out that I was literally staying in an apartment that was steps away from H-Mart, I almost wept for joy. DC, build an H-Mart please? Thank you.
The point of this post is I found ramen and guabao in Cambridge. My food research skills have upgraded. Hee.
This is the very clean-looking open kitchen at Pagu, which opened just in January of this year in Cambridge, fairly new. I wanted to try Pagu because they mix Spanish and Japanese food, so on the menu they have options like pinxtos, tortilla espanola, crudo and ramen, and BAO! Well, bao is more Taiwanese than Japanese, but still, I was intrigued by the Asian and European fusion.
So pretty!! This is their very famous deep-fried oyster squid ink bao, with shiso leaf and pickled purple cabbage. Like a Taiwanese oyster po boy. This was quite delicious. The squid ink bao was pillowy soft, not too doughy, and slightly sweet like traditional guabao. The fried oyster had a nice and crunchy crust and the oyster was quite fresh, though I wish they gave me more oyster per bao. I liked that they added the pretty purple pickled cabbage here that added some bright acidity to the bao, and makes my photo look vibrant. Ha.
The braised pork belly bao with pickled cucumbers, fried shallots and peanuts. This is a very Taiwanese bao with traditional flavors. While the pork belly was quite fat, like yummy melty fat, the pickled cucumber and fried shallots added both spice and acidity to cut down the oiliness. I really enjoyed this, though for some reason I thought this bao tasted less soft, almost a little dry, compared to the squid ink bao. This bao was also part of the lunch set they had, hence only one.
This is the Guchi’s midnight ramen. Okay, first a disclaimer: one of the reasons why I visited Pagu was because they had uni miso mazemen. Literally, when I sat down at the bar, the waiter told me they ran out of uni miso mazemen. I almost screamed. Nevertheless, I got this as a replacement.
Hmm…maybe it’s because I was still depressed that I missed out on my uni mazemen, but I did not enjoy this ramen. Granted, the broth was milky and full of meaty, pork bone flavors, but I didn’t like how salty the bacon was. I wanted some more fatty chashu here, the fried bacon didn’t help. Also, though the marinated soft egg here had a nice, pudding-like yolk, I think they salted the marinade a little too aggressively. Instead of the creamy, rich egg yolk, with a subtle flavor of the marinade, I felt like I bit into a salt bomb. Very disappointed.
Dessert. Warm, straight out of the oven matcha and hojicha cookies. These were so cute and mitigated somewhat the disappointing ramen. The matcha cookie had a little surprise lava of chocolate inside, which was both sweet and indulgent. My favorite was the hojicha cookies, the nutty tea flavor was quite strong. I wish I had more.
Pagu was a hit and miss for me. I’m not sure if it’s because they’ve only been open for a couple of months, but still, it’s been a while. Pagu was a nice option for some unique, Asian flavors in Cambridge, but I’m not sure if I will return if I go back to Boston.