Ippudo specializes in Japanese ramen. In the battle of ramen noodle houses across New York, you will always find staunch supporters of Ippudo citing its ramen as supreme.
I love this ramen noodle bowl wall. I am going to do this in my future awesome house.
Because of its immense popularity, waits at Ippudo are notorious. Thanan and I ate at Ippudo at 3 p.m. on Sunday with a minimal wait (10-15 minutes), however, during peak dinner time, waits can be 1-2 hours. On Monday night, the place was packed to the brim, but we had devised a plan: I would put our name on the list at 7, and then I would join Greeshma at DSW (our love) at Union Square for some shoe shopping. By the time we returned to Ippudo at 8p, we only had to wait another slick ten minutes before being seated! I would recommend this multi-tasking to everyone.
The dining room of Ippudo is dark and sleek. The backwall is painted in white with white raised Japanese characters. I also want this in my future house. With some Chinese characters that Diana will write out for me.
There are a handful of different ramen options in the menu, but the special ramen, written on a sliver of paper and tucked inside the book caught Thanan and my eye (notably for the hot spices, the cabbage and the ground pork). So we ordered a couple bowls of this.
In a short five minutes, our faces were enveloped in the hot steam of our gorgeous ramen bowls. Look at that sensuous broth. It's damn sexy.
The ramen came with a couple of thick slices of pork chashu - which translates to fatty pork belly. I think 2010 should just be renamed the Year of the Pork Belly for me, because it seems that not a day goes by where I do not eat this ! The pork was buttery and melted in my mouth. The broth was flavorful, savory and had a subtle spice similar to cayenne that burned our lips but wasn't spicy. The noodles were cooked perfectly and had a nice chew.
It was official.
We were in love.
With our bowls of noodles.
So, the next day, when Greeshma, Snehal and I sat down at Ippudo, I decided to order the same thing again. I know ! Why don't I branch out?! Because when I find something I love, I cannot resist ordering the same dang thing ! I'm really disappointing like that, but we did order one new thing to try:
Their wildly popular hirata buns that came with option of pork or ground chicken. Pork belly for the win!!
Pork buns, baby.
Ippudo's buns feature iceberg lettuce, a healthy dollop of plain mayonnaise and pork belly doused in Ippudo's special spicy sauce. Greeshma and I could have done without the mayonnaise, and I could have done without the lettuce, but we both agreed the spicy sauce was really tasty. The bun itself was comparable to Momofuku, but may have been a tad thicker? I can't remember. I do remember it didn't stick to my teeth, so that's a total plus.
Here's my second bowl of the house special ramen, looking just as beautiful as before.
However, this time, my pork chashu was 100% fat. That's a 1:0 ratio of fat to meat here. I love pork fat, but seriously c'mon. We are just playing with fire here !!
Greeshma ordered the Shiromaro Hakata Classic featuring berkshire pork, kikurage, red pickled ginger, menma, 1/2 hard boiled egg and scallions. As you can assume, I was wildly jealous of that 1/2 hard boiled egg. It looked fantastic.
Greeshma and Snehal at Ippudo. Snehal ordered the "secret" off-the-menu vegetarian ramen since all the soup broths at Ippudo are pork-based. He said the vegetarian tasted great. I watched a party of 3 across the table from us who also ate the vegetarian and loved it. They passed the bowl around to each other and all took long drinks from it. That kind of behavior is totally acceptable at Ippudo.
Our meal ended with nice hot cups of complimentary Japanese tea. Perfect nightcap.
PS. Go to their bathroom in the lower level and peek in the sliver of a window in the wall to see them make their noodles and weigh the little noodle bundles. Those Japanese people are so precise!