Tuesday, April 20, 2010

New York City: Ippudo

*Post by Angela.
This weekend, Mark and I were in New York for a quick visit with my sister Pam and her fiancee Jason.  We were also in town to eat as much as we possibly could, and we absolutely succeeded (if you know us at all, you know it was a ridiculous amount of food in a very short period of time).  We started our epic eating journey with a fantastic Mexican meal in Brooklyn on Friday night (which we'll post about in a few days), and after a fun-filled night, woke up late Saturday morning raring to go.

The day began with Lunch #1 at Ippudo Noodle Shop in the East Village.  The restaurant is the first and only American location for the Japanese chain, and Pam had been dying to try it out; unfortunately, every time she had walked by, it had been either packed or closed.  We showed up super early to guarantee seating (and to accommodate our very busy eating schedule for the day), and I'm glad we did.  Ippudo's rich broths, mouthwatering toppings, and house-made noodles combine to make a very satisfying and tasty bowl of ramen, the ideal fuel for a day of exploring Manhattan. 

Click below to see what we ate!

There was already a line in front of the trendy noodle shop when we arrived a few minutes before 11 am; nevertheless, we were seated quickly once the sign was flipped from closed to open.  Like Policy in DC, the restaurant's color scheme was dominated by reds and blacks, but I didn't mind it here, as the lines were much sleeker and cleaner, creating a chic, instead of skeevy, atmosphere. 

I also liked that the receiving room's adornments announced the restaurant's focus clearly.  This is a RAMEN shop, plain and simple.

Even though it was fairly early in the day, I was already hungry (having spent the morning repeating the weekend's mantra in my head - "You will eat more and love it.  You will eat more and love it").  So I ordered one of Ippudo's "cold" dishes, the Tako Wasabi (raw octopus in fresh diced wasabi).  I loved this simple little dish - the octopus was so very fresh, satisfyingly slippery, yet with a firm bite.  And the diced wasabi shocked my taste buds awake. 

Tako Wasabi

Ippudo offers five varieties of soup (with different types of broth), as well as a number of extra toppings you can add for $2 more, including poached egg, seasoned bamboo shoots, chasu pork, and braised pork belly. 

Both Mark and Pam ordered the Akamaru Modern, tonkotsu soup (pork-based) with Ippudo's house-made noodles, special sauce, miso paste, and fragrant garlic oil.  Their bowls of ramen already came with a number of toppings, including chasu pork, half a seasoned boiled egg, beansprouts, kikurage (a.k.a. wood ear mushrooms) and scallions, but because we're talking about Mark and Pam (who shares my pork-belly loving genes), they both added kakuni, or braised pork belly.  Both really enjoyed their bowls of ramen, and Mark noted that he really liked the broth, contrasting it to the broth in the pho he's eaten (which he found watery and bland) - he enjoyed how flavorful and thick the pork-based tonkotsu soup was in comparison (this is because it's made by boiling pork bones over high heat for many hours, which breaks the collagen in the bones down into gelatin).  Mark and Pam also both absolutely raved about the pork belly, and upon trying a little, I agreed - the kakuni was a gloriously fatty, rich and tender bite.

Akamaru Modern With Braised Pork Belly

I broke from the pack and ordered the special, the Karaka-men.  The broth in my soup was similar to that in the Akamaru Modern (tonkotsu broth), but it had the added element of "special blended hot spices."  My ramen also came with chasu pork, kikurage, and scallions, as well as cabbage and ground pork, and I added onsen tamago, or poached egg, to the mix.  While I really enjoyed the broth from the Akamaru Modern, I LOVED my spicier broth, and the poached egg was cooked to perfection, bursting into my soup with yolky deliciousness.


We left Ippudo feeling totally satiated and happy, but not overwhelmingly full (which was a blessing, as we still had two more substantial meals to get through that day).  I really wish DC had ramen shops like this, which met our need for a quick, filling and tasty meal perfectly.*  And with contented stomachs, we wandered out into the city to explore and make our way toward Lunch #2...

*If anyone knows of good ramen shops in DC, please, please let me know.


  1. Angela,
    K. trying again...Just like Japan's first UNIQLO clothing store in Manhattan..I knew you are my type of a girl, I would go for spicier as well:). Your post and pics are so enticing the decor so chic and attractive, definitely will hit it up when next in NYC. Too bad did not know about it earlier...had guests from overseas who were dying for good ramen. Looking forward to the rest of your posts! Shulie

  2. Thanks so much! I'm glad your post made it up this time, was worth the repost. :)

  3. DC is getting a Wagamama - it's a chain of pan-Asian restaurants that specialize in ramen dishes. They originated in London and from what I remember while living there years ago, it was pretty good. It's not exactly a genuine ramen shop, unfortunately...I wish I knew of one that's already in the area!

  4. Thanks, Lisa! I had no idea about Wagamama, and after a little research I see that it's set to open in next month, right? I don't mind if it's not a "genuine" ramen shop, I'll take anything I can get, really. Ramen is one of my favorites, and while I suppose I COULD make it myself, it's usually so cheap that I'd rather just pay for someone else to make it.

  5. There's just something about it, right? Cannot get enough of it.