I have been to Ippudo (on 4th Ave between 9th and 10th Streets) about 3 or 4 times and somehow managed to miss blogging about it each time. And that’s a damn shame… because I have been withholding the best damn ramen place I have found in NYC from my wonderful readers. Maybe I did it subconsciously so the secret of eating here without waiting on the crazy line would not be revealed… but I’ll let you in on the secret… read on…
Upon entering, the whole staff yells a very Japanese welcome. Be prepared to feel yelled at… but they assure me it’s all meant in kindness.
The first time I took Mike, we ordered the Chef’s Tasting Appetizers. I can’t for the life of me remember what they were, but those little corn things were delicious. And of course I couldn’t eat the dish in the back due to the peppers, but Mike enjoyed.
We also got the pork buns. They are not quite the caliber of the ones at Momofuku Ssam, but they were delicious.
One of my favorite things to order is the lunch special. It starts with a selection of rice dishes and I absolutely LOVE the pork over rice. It is packed with flavor and just the right amount of sauce. DELICIOUS!
The next dish is the Tsuke Soba, which is cold ramen that comes with soup for dipping into. My coworker loved this.
I order the same thing each time: The Shiromaru Hakata Classic, which they describe as “the original tonkotsu’ soup noodle with pork loin chashu, kikurage, menma, 1/2 boiled egg, red pickled ginger, sesame & scallions.” I have found that adding Onsen Tamago (poached egg) and the sensational Kakuni (braised pork belly) brings this soup to a whole new level. Nom Nom Nom.
So what’s the secret for getting in when the bar is packed and people are gathered outside, prepared for the 1.5 hour wait? You need to go in-person to make a reservation day-of. I highly recommend heading to Union Square around lunch time, starting at Ippudo where you put your name in for an early dinner. Then walk around the Union Square Greenmarket and take in a movie at the Union Square Cinema. That should put you at Ippudo just in time to walk right in, much to the dismay of the waiting public, and sit down for an epic meal.
On one such occasion where I was bringing some good friends to this awesome place, I managed to capture some additional decorations inside. (I really enjoy their aesthetic)
The table where we sat had these cool ropes under glass to decorate the table. Very cool.
Now back to the food… The group started with Yamaimo Isobe, which is fresh mountain yam topped with mentai plum and jalapeno masago, served with nori.
Everyone ordered their ramen of choice.
I love how they serve each in a different bowl.
And trust me, the side of pork belly is TOTALLY worth it!
Each broth is a little different.
And absolutely delicious.
I’ve never heard anyone have any complaints about their soup.
One thing that I find pretty funny is that many people read the following on their menu and get all excited about more noodles:
“Kae-dama is a system that offers you an extra serving of noodles. when you have almost finished your first serving of noodles, order by saying, “kae-dama, please”. in a few minutes the server will bring you another ‘ball of noodles’, and put it in the soup. at that time, you must have enough amount of the soup in the bowl to accommodate the new noodles, that is, you shouldn’t drink much of the soup if you are going to order the kae-dama.”
No one ever feels like they are hungry enough for more noodles by the end.
Their dessert menu always has a few curiosities on it.
This time we ordered the marscapone and ice cream cake…
The Crepe Cake…
And the Macha Brulee.
I really like the brulee, personally, and the slight flavor of tea is really nice. Not everyone likes it, but that just means more for me!
Overall, Ippudo is one of my favorite restaurants in NYC. I highly recommend it. Just go and make an in-person reservation. You won’t regret it.
Total Nom Points: 8.5 out of 10