Remember that dream I once had? Well, it's finally starting to come true. Today I visited one of the ten Ippudo branches situated in Tokyo. And with all the press they've been getting from their NY opening earlier this year, Ippudo has been at the top of my "must try" list for quite some time now.
Located down a small alley from the main street, Ippudo Meidaimae was packed and forming a long line quickly. Fortunately, we were able to grab a table after waiting just 10 anxious minutes. I must mention that the service here was excellent. They really do an impressive job of training the staff and running things in a smooth and efficient manner.
Akamaru Shin-aji: If you visit Ippudo for the first time, I definitely recommend that you try the Akamaru. It's a rich and flavorful tonkotsu blend that will leave you at a loss for words. That's basically what it did for me. The pic below is how it arrives...
And after mixing it up, the Akamaru turns black as if it were eclipsed by a plague of ramen flavors. Indeed this ramen was from a special place rarely visited by other ramen-ya's. The soup, for the most part, was missing that overbearing smell of pork that most tonkotsu ramen's usually have. The meticulous cleansing of the bones have yielded a smooth creamy soup sensation that ends with a harmonious melody of garlic. The toppings (chashu, umami-dama, kouyu, kikurage, moyashi, negi) are the heart of this soup. The thin Hakata-style noodles, cooked to your liking, make you feel like you're not even in Tokyo anymore. And for a brief moment, my soul was bathing along with them.
Shiromaru Moto-aji: The Shiromaru is a lighter version of their tonkotsu broth. It's basically the Akamaru without all the fanfare. Delicious in its own right, the Shiromaru is a refreshing blend of the best ingredients.
Gyoza: The gyoza here are also quite delicious. A sweeter filling than I'm used to, but one small bite will lead to an expected smile.
Hakata Buns: Chashu in a bun! The perfect snack to go along with your ramen. Basically a french dinner roll stuffed with lettuce, cucumber and a big juicy piece of chashu. There are three flavors, two of which we ordered below.
Spicy Karamiso flavor...
Located on the table is some fresh garlic that you can crush and add to your ramen if desired.
Other items on the table that you can eat for free are spicy moyashi, karashi takana, and shoga.
And last but not least, you can add some Yuzugoshou (yuzu infused pepper).