I was once read on another ramen blog that Ippudo it a must try in Tokyo for those ramen lovers, and it was also recommended by a friend. So after several trips to Tokyo, I finally made my way to Ebisu for my first experience of Ippudo ramen.
It shouldn't be surprising by now that Ippudo is also Hakata ramen based, and has a huge following as well. You can see from their website that this is easily one of the more popular chains in not only Tokyo, but Japan. It is nicely designed, and gives a nice overview of what is offered and the various locations in Japan. I was fortunate enough to try all three of the ramen offerings, and their excellent gyoza. Let's get to the review.
My first bowl of Ippudo ramen was the Shiromaru ramen (白), which is their classic, more basic ramen. I chose this one over the others because I always try the classic first. With the order of ramen, you get a box with negi and seaweed, so you can add to your ramen as you like. The soup was very refreshing, not heavy or oily at all. The noodles, very classes hakata style, thin noodles, cooked a bit harder than usual. You can ask for it to be cooked softer, if you wish. The chashu was very nice, thick, very tender, and good enough to match the soup. The hanjyuku tamago was excellent, a must try if you love egg with your ramen.
The second bowl of Ippudo ramen was at the Ginza location, where I took my friends from Hong Kong.
I had spoken to my friend after my first visit to Ippudo, and she suggested that I try to Akamaru ramen (紅). Well, I can say without hesitation which one is better. The Akamaru soup really stands out, and perhaps it is because it is more rich, a bit more oily, and the blend together really makes a difference. The noodles and toppings are nearly the same, so I won't go through that in detail. But as for the soup, it really depends on your preference. I can take both, and depending on mood, I would prefer one over the other. But I can see some people who would prefer Shiromaru since it is lighter and perhaps a bit healthier.
Their third version is a spicy version, Karaka men, which consist a miso base as well. My friend ordered this and I was also able to taste the soup. Very flavorful indeed, and gives another dimension to Ippudo's offering. The different with Karaka men is, you get a side dish with the tamago and chashu, which you would make a onigiri. I wasn't able to try it, but my friend said it was very good.
One last note. There also offer another ramen with chawanmushi, which was quite unique. I didn't get the details, and didn't see many people order it, but I am sure it's pretty decent as well. Like most ramen shops, Ippudo also has gyoza, and a few rice options in case the ramen or even kaedama is not enough.
The following for Ippudo is so big that they have opened a branch in New York, and they've advertised it all of their shops and on their website. So those of you who can't make it to Tokyo and New York is a much closer location to visit, you are in luck. But whether you are in Japan or New York, Ippudo ramen is well worth taking the time out for a visit.
Location: Various locations in Japan (also in New York, Singapore, Seoul, and Hong Kong)
Hours: Varies by location
Website: http://www.ippudo.com/index.htmlOrder system: Menu
Available in English? Yes