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Eating Out: Study Break

With the exam period fast approaching, HBS students have different ways of dealing. A few of us study, but the majority of us, myself included, procrastinate. My form of procrastination involved searching for the right restaurant for the right occasion and I’m happy to report that I found three. Although each of these restaurants are notable in their own right, they are also notable for the fact that they have kept me from studying on several occasions. Here are my suggestions:

The Study Break.
I discovered Sapporo Ramen while wandering on Mass Ave north of Harvard Square. Located inside a non-descript mall, Sapporo Ramen is an authentic Japanese noodle shop that is part of a cluster of other Japanese restaurants including a bakery, a fast food joint and an ice cream stand. For those of us whose ramen eating experiences have been relegated to the instant variety, I strongly urge you to visit Sapporo Ramen for a mind-awakening experience. Sapporo Ramen serves large steaming bowls of ramen in three different types of broths – soy, miso and clear. The noodles are a chewy pleasing mouthful and contrast well with the crunchy bean sprouts and sweet pickled vegetables served as accompaniments. For a real treat, order the miso butter ramen; a bowl of ramen big enough to wash your head in that is ladled with a rich buttery miso broth. After that, to guarantee productive studying, visit the ice cream shop across from Sapporo Ramen and order some mochi ice cream – small balls of ice cream (mango, green tea, coconut or red bean) wrapped in a delicious rice cake.

The Night Out.
Situated at the Downtown Crossing stop on the red line, Ivy Restaurant is within minutes to several clubs and lounges. Ivy is a stylish spot that serves Italian cuisine with an emphasis on high quality small plates. To encourage sampling and sharing, Ivy prices most of its dishes in the $9-12 range. Some highlights include succulent braised veal in a lovely tomato sauce served over pappardelle and the Ivy carbonara – linguine flavored with pancetta, parmesan and peas. There are also large plates such as cacciucco (a Tuscan seafood stew in a spicy fennel tomato broth) for those of us unwilling to share. The wine list is also a great bargain. All the listed bottles are $26 so it is the perfect way to warm up for a night out on the town. The only drawback is the absence of dessert. Instead Ivy offered us each a simple strawberry sorbet cone before sending us on our way – happy and sated.

The Low-Key Evening.
Continuing with the theme of small plates, Toro is a great way to hang out and unwind with some classmates. Located in the South End, Toro is a tapas bar that captures the tapas-style eating beautifully. Tapas are a collection of small plates meant to be shared amongst friends and washed down with a glass of wine. Toro has this formula perfected that its enough to make you want to work your way through the entire tapas menu! Each dish has been carefully crafted to ensure quality and while tapas is of Spanish origin, many of Toro’s dishes borrow influences from other cultures. For example, the house specialty, Maiz Asado – grilled corn rubbed with garlic mayonnaise, then rolled in cotija cheese and sprinkled with espelette pepper and lime – is Mexican influenced. Or the Octopus Ceviche – which is thinly sliced octopus “cooked” in citric acid – is smoothed out with Japanese dashi to help round out the taste. There are also excellent dishes for the more culinary adventurous including: rich tripe stew; smoky and sweet duck drummettes; and cava-braised rabbit with kumquats. Perhaps the only drawback at Toro is its popularity. With no reservations taken and only 60 seats including two communal tables available, Toro can become a first-come first-serve free-for-all. Luckily the restaurant stays open late until 1 AM to help satisfy those late night tapas cravings!

Good luck with exams, see you next year and happy eating!

Details:

Sapporo Ramen
Lunch for two with ice cream ~ $25
1815 Massachusetts Ave
(617) 876-4805

Ivy Restaurant
Dinner for two with wine ~ $75
49 Temple Place
(617) 451-1416

Toro
Dinner for two with wine ~ $65
1704 Washington St
(617) 536-4300

May 8, 2006
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