yume wo katare top

I’m going to be honest: I’m not a huge fan of going out to eat. It’s expensive, loud, usually not very healthy, and the stress of tip calculation gives me nightmares. In order for me to want to eat out, the place has to be special. It has to offer an experience that I would be unable to get anywhere else.

Yume wo Katare in Boston does just that. It’s an authentic Japanese-style ramen restaurant with a unique twist: you’re supposed to eat your massive bowl of ramen with a dream in your heart, then when you finish, you stand up and announce your dream to everyone inside. The waiters then judge your bowl based on how much you finished, and if you ate a lot then your dream just might come true.

Hearing that, we had to give it a try. So come along with us on our visit to Yume wo Katare!

Yume wo Katare (literally “tell us your dreams”) was opened in Boston in November 2012 by Tsuyoshi Nishioka. He worked for four years at ramen restaurants in Tokyo, then opened up his own in Kyoto, but eventually left to set up shop in Boston. Why? Because it’s filled with the one thing he values more than delicious ramen: dreams.

His restaurant has been so successful for its unique take on serving ramen that it was even featured on the Japanese TV show Sekai no Fushigi Hakken (Strange Discoveries Around the World). You can watch the clip right here:


After seeing that, and discovering that we have a writer  basically living right next door to the place, we knew we had to go give it a try, so we assembled a team led by our intrepid reporter Scott to shout out some dreams themselves.

Take it away, Scott:

We arrived around 9 p.m. on a Friday night to a line that went out the door and were told it would be about a half an hour wait, but that did not deter us. We had dreams to share!

▼ The outside of Yume wo Katare in Boston’s Porter Square. We’re not sure what the “until 2030” thing is about; hopefully it’s not an expiration date for your dreams!

01 outside

▼ The outside window comes with a helpful flowchart. The YES take you to the menu with only two options: buta ramen (literally “pork ramen”) with five slices of pork ($14) and ramen with two slices of pork ($12). Both options are big, so if you aren’t hungry, you should take the NO arrow seriously.

02 flowchart

▼ The wait outside gives you plenty of time (and friendly reminders!) to think of what you want your dream to be.

03 dream

Once you get inside you pick your ramen option, pay for your food (and optional beverage), and take a sign announcing you have a dream to share when you finish. Water is self-serve and free.

▼ The wife (Abbey) with a dream in her hand and her heart.

04 sign

▼ The tables are set up like a classroom, where the “teacher” Nishioka-san is behind the counter up front cooking nonstop ramen for us “students.”

07 shop

After you sit, Nishioka-san will ask if you want garlic and/or extra pork fat. It’s quite a bit of extra garlic and/or fat that they put on, so only ask for it if you know for sure that you’re a huge fan.

▼ Since Abbey had a big dream, she needed a matching bowl of big ramen and asked for both.

05 ramen

▼ It’s a lot to finish, but having your dream in front of you is a good motivator. After all it’s only going to come true if you eat everything!

06 sign placed

If you’re familiar with Japanese ramen, then there’s no huge surprises here. And that’s a good thing because Japanese ramen is delicious. The pork on top is moist and melts in your mouth, the noodles are thick and chewy, and the warm broth makes it feel like your dream is coming true already.

However, it is a giant bowl, so you may have to push your stomach’s capacity to the max if you want to actually finish it.

▼ Abbey still going strong halfway through her bowl.

10 eating

▼ …or not. Keep going! The bowl isn’t half-full, it’s half-empty!

11 eating

▼ The classic I’m-getting-sick-but-I’m-not-gonna-give-up face.

12 eating

▼ The last drops!

12 slurping

Om nom nom! And she’s done! Still managing to keep that twinkle in her eye!

13 slupring

▼ I, however, was not so lucky. I managed to finish my bowl, but by that point my only dream was that I wished I’d ordered the smaller one.

14 scott

Here’s the video of Abbey announcing her dream to everyone in the restaurant so you can get a feel of what it’s like. It’s very therapeutic, like a group hug, and you really feel a lot closer to these strangers once you’ve heard their goals and hopes in life.

As you heard in the video, the waiters judge how good a job you did by how much you finished. If you ate everything, that’s a perfect. If you ate all the noodles and pork but there’s some broth left, that’s a good job. Less than that supposedly earns you an almost or a next time, but everyone got at least a good job while we were there.

After the dreams were announced, it was time to leave so the dozens of others waiting outside could come in for their own bowls of hope-infused ramen. But we couldn’t leave without saying thanks and snapping a picture of the dream-purveyors themselves.

▼ Nishioka-san hard at work serving up bowls of self-confidence with a side of ambition.

15 nishioka

▼ The brave men responsible for the careful delivery of each bowl of Nishioka-san’s miracle broth.

16 waiters

Yume wo Katare was truly a unique experience, one that we’ve never had before, either in the U.S. or Japan. Whether you’re simply looking for a delicious bowl of ramen, or if you need a way to pump yourself up to reach a goal you’ve set, Yume wo Katare provides both.

And if you’re shy about screaming out your dream, no worries; it’s not mandatory at all. You can just say your dream in your heart, and Nishioka-san will hear it anyway.

Restaurant Information
Yume wo Katare
Address: 1923 Massachusetts Ave. Cambridge, MA 02140
Phone: 617-714-4008
Hours: Open Monday-Saturday, 5:00 p.m.-11:00 p.m.
Closed Sundays

Reference: NPR
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