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Restaurant Review (Cambridge, MA): Wagamama and Dado Tea on Harvard Square

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While on one of my Boston visits, I stopped by a familiar haunt: Harvard Square, home to hundreds of restaurants, retailers, bookstores, and Harvard University, of course. What I like about Harvard Square is its plenitude of small, local businesses. There may be large chains, like Fire + Ice or UNO’s pizza, but if I so choose, there are plenty of smaller, and even better local restaurants at which to eat. Examples include smaller local cafes like Tealuxe, Crema Cafe, or Dado Tea; or lesser known restaurants like Wagamama, Takemura, Spice Thai, or Qdoba. It seems that on every visit here, I make it my goal to visit a restaurant-tea place combination. This time, I stopped at Dado Tea and Wagamama. 

As a shopping break, my friends and I stopped by Dado Tea, avoiding a packed Starbucks, for some bubble tea and mocha. Dado Tea is a small local tea place on 50 Church Street, Cambridge. In addition to beverages, the place also offers sandwiches, salads, dumpling and rice cake soups, and desserts, all fresh and organic. Another selling point! I hadn’t heard anything bad about the mocha two of my companions ordered, though the bubble tea (peach blossom) was somewhat disappointing (bubble tea menu here).

My companion ordered a bubble tea with all the sugar and whole milk, but mentioned that her tea was not sweet enough, or sweet at all for that matter. My bubble tea had a rather beautiful peach flavor that I enjoyed, but the bubbles were tough. I recommend going for bubble tea in Chinatown instead (had a very fruity mango bubble tea back there in the summertime that was excellent), and going in the summer instead of winter. If I go to this place in the future, I will opt for a hot tea rather than a bubble tea, as it seems as if Dado Tea’s hot teas are their “speciality.” 

Wagamama, a British ramen noodle chain that’s now finding its way into the states, is the perfect dish if one is craving warm noodle soup on a cold day, as we were. Wagamama serves a variety of Asian-style appetizers and noodle or rice dishes, but the Japanese-style ramen is the dish Wagamama is best known for. On my prior visit, I ordered the chicken ramen, which is ramen in a chicken soup topped with sliced grilled chicken breast, baby spinach, menma, and sliced scallion, which I found delicious if slightly too salty. It was a safe choice for a first visit, and thankfully one that did not disappoint. 

We arrived at 4:15, beating the dinner rush, and as a result were quickly seated and served. The restaurant was fairly quiet at this point. The server was helpful and attentive, and took the time to explain different menu choices to some of my companions. This time, I chose the wagamama seafood ramen, with grilled shrimp, salmon, whitefish, and squid topped with menma (bamboo shoots), baby spinach, and sliced scallion. There was a wedge of lime buried under the surface of the noodles that soaked into some of the spinach before I noticed it, leaving them with an overwhelming lime-y taste, but other than that, the bamboo shoots and scallions were perfect. The seafood, about which I had been nervous, was cooked to perfection, and I tasted no dryness or rawness. No fear of food poisoning! The vegetable broth was flavorful, though again slightly too salty. One of my friends ordered yaki udon, fried udon with chicken and spicy seasoning, which I found intriguing, and which I might try next time I go to Wagamama. 

My verdict? Wagamama is definitely an excellent choice for ramen fans who don’t mind a little extra salt. A word of caution, though: a new Wagamama has been added to Faneuil Hall in Boston. I’ve unfortunately heard bad things about that restaurant, including inattentive servers and undercooked meat, so I recommend my readers to go to the one in Harvard Square instead. The ambience of Harvard Square is also much nicer than the hustle and bustle of Faneuil Hall, and that may have a lot to do with the quality of food and service, though I’m not saying that that kind of behavior is even acceptable.

I also advise trying some of their appetizers; I’ve heard that the duck dumplings are especially good. Their chocolate cake is also apparently excellent, and definitely an incentive for me to return. 

Dado Tea: 3 stars

Wagamama: 4 stars

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About Valerie Norton