Café Mami, a restaurant nestled inside the Asian food hub at Shops at Porter, offers unpretentious Japanese comfort food at very reasonable prices.
The slightly dry fried shrimp Shumai ($4.50) was forgettable, but the robust flavor of the Yaki Don ($7.00) was delightful. This simple dish featured thin juicy slices of marinated beef simmered with fresh onions over perfect fluffy white rice, topped with crisp bean sprouts and thinly sliced scallions. I could not taste the heat that was advertised in this dish, but if you would like more, I recommend adding a squirt of sriracha sauce, providing both flavor and heat.
The restaurant’s specialty is the Tokyo Hamburg Steak Set ($8.99); a dish featuring marinated slabs of ground beef slathered in a special homemade thick, rich tomato and pork-based ragu simmered to perfection for an entire day.
From what I observed at the tables around me, it was a popular choice among diners as well. The Tatsuta Curry ($8.99), juicy and tender ginger-infused boneless fried chicken served with a flavorful beef broth curry, was at once tangy and rich. The restaurant also offers vegan, vegetarian, and pescetarian options.
I recommend the Salmon Veggie Yaki Don ($7.50), Fried Tofu Veggie Don ($7.49), and the Kaisou ($3.00), a mix of seaweed, lettuce, and tomato slices tossed with homemade soy sauce and sesame oil. The Curry Rice Sets and the Hamburg Steak Sets are all served with a side salad and miso soup, and all dishes are served with free refills of rice. The popular Green Tea Milkshake ($3.50) was the perfect way to cool off my palate at the end of the meal.
Although the seating is limited (15 seats), the restaurant offers quick service. Due to the high turnover, this place is best for a quick lunch or dinner for you and a friend or two. At $5.00 + tax, the lunch specials provide incredible value. Café Mami allows you to enjoy delicious Japanese cuisine without breaking the bank: it is truly a culinary gem in the heart of Porter Square.