When the snow flakes are a-falling outside, there ain’t no reason not to have ramen, even if you’re made to wait one hour for said ramen. This is often the case at New York’s Ippudo, reputedly one of the best ramen restaurants in town, where I met up with Ken for dinner last weekend. We thought we were being clever by showing up at 6.30pm, which is for all intents and purposes, pretty early for dinner, right? Right.
Apparently not at Ippudo. At 6.30pm, there’s already a heaving crowd inside spilling out in huddles onto 4th Ave, and when Ken asked if I was ok to wait, I was like are you kidding me? I didn’t come all the way here to NOT have the best ramen in NYC! Hellz yeah we are waiting.
And so we did.
The hour-long wait was particularly painless for us because Ken and I? We Couldn’t Stop Talking. And this is where my mum should maybe like glance away, but Ken and I have never met. Well, not in person anyway. In the wonderful world of the interwebz, Ken is one of my most precious blueberries and when our IRL worlds finally collided, the entire space between us (a whole foot and more, me being a midget and him being of the rare breed of tall Asian guys) was set alight and we caught up on everything in each others lives.
I know right? Catching up with someone you’ve never met? That’s a 21st century concept for ya.
Anyway, after about an hour of non-stop chatter, our name was called – oh wait I’m sorry, Ken’s name was called, I mean I’ve known him 60 minutes and I’m owning his name already? – and we were brought into the large warehousey space that is the Ippudo dining room.
We decided to order some starters to whet our appetites. I knew I had to order the hirata steamed buns (only every other person I know had demanded I do so) but being a scallop fan, I also ordered the hotate ponzu. So it seems the people were correct. Hotate ponzu? Yeaaaah it was ok, but nothing to write home about. Hirata bun? HOLY SHIT DELICIOUS.
There’s two in a serve and if I can give you one piece of advice? Don’t Share. We chose the pork version, the steamed bun softer, sweeter and fluffier than any bao dough I’ve had, and the pork – chunky yet tender and coated with what looks like mayonnaise but has a decent spicy kick. I loved this. And next time I’m having my own (as much as I adore you Ken!)…
The main event was of course the ramen, and Ken and I both ordered the Akamaru Modern, with pork belly, kikurage, cabbage, scallions (shallots), miso paste and fragrant garlic oil.
It was pretty darn awesome.
I’m by no means a ramen expert, so I can’t exactly tell you how this differs in technicality to other ramens I’ve had, but I can wholehearted confirm that it is one tasty bowl of noodles. The broth is somewhat heavier than ramens I’ve had, but so packed full of miso or garlic or just whatever makes it awesome that I (who rarely finishes my broth), finished my broth.
Though I was full from the large bowl of ramen, there was a matcha dessert staring me blank in the face. How could I say no? I couldn’t. And didn’t. Mascarpone cheese with matcha ice cream, topped with nuts and drizzled with honey. Basically a glorified scoop of matcha ice cream but still delectable – in all my messing around with matcha, I’ve never tried it with honey before but the contrast of bitter matcha with sweet honey was genius.
Since we were having one dessert, we thought we may as well order another one. Life’s short, eat hard. We had the sweet tofu custard with pear sorbet. The sweet tofu at Kyotofu is lighter, softer and tastier, but I liked the pear sorbet.
All in all did I like Ippudo? Yes. Would I queue another hour for it? I hate to say this but… yes. So I guess I’ll see you again in February, my delightful little pork buns!
65 4th Avenue (between 9th and 10th Streets)
East Village, NY, 10003
212 388 0088