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Apr 1, 2008 12:29 PM

Ippudo review

I had lunch there today and tried their two signature styles of ramen: the shiromaru classic and akamaru modern, which is seasoned with garlic oil and a secret sauce. The shiromaru broth was too salty and the noodles were not as tender as I would have liked. Overall, it was a rather boring, plain bowl of ramen. The slices of Berkshire pork were tasty, though, and the cabbage had a good crunch and sweetness.

The akamaru was more interesting, thanks to the secret sauce. The broth was richer and more flavorful, and I would order it again, but I wasn't wowed by it.

Ippudo definitely has an advantage over the other East Village ramen places because of its size—it's a lot more spacious and comfortable than the usually cramped ramen restaurants. There are a lot of interesting design details, too—dried ramen under the glass-topped bar, kimono silk on the wall, tatami-lined booths, traditional tapestries on the tables, a giant bamboo tree in the center of the room. The staff is also very friendly. But the food was less than stellar. Another con: they don't have to-go containers, so if you can't finish your ramen (and it is a very large bowl), it just goes to waste.

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  1. Thanks for the review, was it busy when you went?

    1 Reply
    1. re: eatfood

      I was there at 1pm and it was pretty packed. They seat people at large communal tables, though, so the wait isn't too bad. I heard the wait was 2.5 hours around 6pm on opening night.

    2. I'm with you on the akamaru, but I also think I liked everything better overall than you did, Kiwi. I'm more of a central and northern ramen guy (or even Hawaiian style) than Ippudo's down south pork version but I enjoyed it quite a lot.

      Also, I had a great sweet potato shochu ( double size for free "cause its our first week") at the bar. Oh and do peak in the basement kitchen on route to the bathroom to check out the 3 huge pots breaking down bones.

      Lastly, no wait at 5:45, and hour+ at 6:15.

      1. Hit Ippudo today for breakfast at 11:30AM as it was mobbed last Wednesday night at 9:30PM and I gave up. 10 minute wait but getting increasingly crowded. Very cool place. Felt like I was back in Roppongi district in Tokyo. Good service. Had sake, a pork, egg sushi roll which was pretty good and the traditional tonkatsu ramen. Very porky tasting, very comforting, very warm, very slurpy. Had I grown up on the stuff like the fat Japanese guy who was having an even slurpier good time than me and who I was sharing one of the communal tables with, I would have curled up in a fetal position and sucked my thumb. I prefer pizza for that reason, but it was definitely a cool place and cheaper than a plane ticket to Narita.

        1 Reply
        1. re: guttergourmet

          Sounds fun...i'll have to check it out next time i am back in the city...

          i spent three weeks in Fukuoka this past winter, and i have to say Ippudo, while not bad, was not my fav ramen joint in that city -- the akamaru was just too fatty for my taste: but i'm curious how the NY one compares...and i'm also disappointed to hear that the NY branch does not have garlic cloves/presses on the table: for me, that's an essentially great part of tonkatsu ramen...

        2. I thought Ippudo was great! My table had the shiomaru classic, the akamaru, and the miso ramen. Of the three, I liked the akamaru the best. It had excellent pork flavor, and one of my dining partners commented that it wasn't as fatty as the broth at Santoka. She felt Santoka's was too fatty and salty - I love the ramen at Santoka and I have to say that Ippudo comes a very close second. The miso ramen was unusually sweet and probably my least favorite of all three but still pretty good. In fact my only beef with this place is that you can't order extra slices of pork (which were extraordinarily tasty)! Ippudo is definitely the best ramen joint in Manhattan - blows the competition out of the water.

          3 Replies
          1. re: yt28

            You can order extra pork. It's not on the menu but I asked and they were happy to oblige for $3.

            1. re: snaporaz

              On the Ramen menu there are listed ramens with suffix of Niku-Iri, those have extra pork and cost $3 more. There is also a good Meat entree of grilled pork.
              Ippudo is busy for dinner everyday of the week, weekends are even crazier. I do want to take a peek in the basement kitchen.

            2. re: yt28

              I agree. 8 of us walked over for lunch on friday and couldnt have been happier with the meal. I had the akamuru and found the broth extremely flavorful. Would have typically liked more pork but considering I wasnt starving, it worked out perfectly. And I noticed you can side order extra pork too (its on the menu now). The spicy ramen soup which my husband had was also excellent. All around, everyone at the table loved their food. Loved the vibe of the place too.....moderately upscale but yet very relaxed, and very comfortable seating if you get one of the tables with leather couches. Service was very friendly.

            3. Does anyone know if they have cold Soba noodles? As summer is upon us, I can have those nearly every day. In contrast, the hot steaming bowls of noodles seem more enticing in February. Thanks.

              12 Replies
                1. re: comiendosiempre

                  Any authentic ramen place would serve ramen only. No self-respecting soba place, similarly, would sell ramen. To foreigners, they're noodles, so the same. These places stay pure in Japan, since it takes great expertise to get it right -- even if it's considered fast food. Of course there are exceptions, such as the stand-up only slurp-and-sprint soba places in train stations. To Japanese, one is Chinese (even the name ramen is often spelled using katakana, which is the Japanese "alphabet" for foreign words), and fast food; the other is Japanese, and hand made, more subtle. A soba restaurant and a ramen restaurant are very different in appearance and menus. Having said that, ramen places often serve hiyashi-chuka in the summer months, which literally means cold Chinese (style noodles). I don't know if Ippudo offers this, but places such as Rai Rai Ken does (although bastardized with Americanized ingredients), as does Menchanko-tei (2 midtown locations, east and west) and Menkui-tei (on Third between St Marks and 7th Sts, also W56th St). These last 2 offer the traditional versions: cold ramen in a cold dashi/miso broth, with sliced cucumbers, chicken, ham, egg omelet, scallions and pickled red ginger. Great.

                  1. re: Wa Shoku

                    who has a decent version of hiyashi chuka? i love that dish, but i dont know if ive ever had it in ny

                    1. re: Lau

                      Sunrise, JAS, Katagiri, etc. all sell hiyashi-chuka "kits" with noodles and sauce. You can then add your own ingredients. It's replaced oden as our household summer Japanese comfort food.

                      1. re: Silverjay

                        arent u supposed to eat oden in the winter? (i love oden btw)

                        1. re: Lau

                          Poor phrasing. I meant to say that oden is our comfort food in winter and now that it's summer, we've switched to hiyashi-chuka as our comfort food....That said, I opened my bento today to find that my wife had packed oden. So go figure....

                          1. re: Silverjay

                            haha i can eat oden almost anytime, but i guess i can eat hiyashi chuka anytime as well

                        1. re: Lau

                          Per above, Menkui-tei on Third Avenue between St Marks and & 7th has good hiyashi-chuka; the Mechanko-tei locations also offer good versions. Rai Rai Ken on E10th St has the Americanized version. Other places? Sapporo on W 49th St -- that old ramen pioneer.

                          Menchanko-tei has pretty good oden, btw.

                          1. re: Wa Shoku

                            Unless Menchanko-Tei is doing something with their hiyashi chuka differently than in the past few years, I wouldn't say it's very good. I found it pretty mediocre to bad, actually. I've also decided not to revisit the East Village outpost of Menkui-Tei after one of the worst Japanese meals I've had in NYC (admittedly it was early on in their existence and they probably didn't have their shit together, but still). The Menkui-Tei on 56th is still alright.

                            1. re: E Eto

                              I agree, Menchanko-Tei's hiyashi chuka was pretty darned awful. So disappointing. It's not that hard to make.