After our dessert adventures (Big Gay’s Ice Cream Shop & butter lane), we still had a good chunk of time before our dinner reservations at 8:30pm. Hmm, how to spend the free time?! We were debating window shopping, going back to the apartment for some downtime, or a quick “first” dinner of sorts at ippudo ny (@ippudony); a well-known Japanese ramen shop in nyc’s East Village.
As you can guess, we chose to EAT. Considering ippudo was within walking distance from our last stop, we took the scenic route!
There’s construction going on above, which explains the scaffolding. Obstructed the view of a nice storefront! :( From the outside, you're looking into the bar of ippudo, where there are some specials that you won't find in the regular dining rooms. ;)
The front glass is plastered with different accolades/recognition garnered within recent years, including being on the Michelin Guide for the past three years. We arrived a bit past 4:30 and decided to just wait outside. A line-up quickly formed. It became 20+ people long by the time the restaurant opened up for dinner service.
I know it’s nothing special, but it was kinda cool to be the first seated. :D The restaurant definitely has this nice, dark, intimate, cool feel to it; heavily influenced by both Japanese tradition and culture.
We all thought this concept is really neat! “Kae-dama” (2) allows you to order some extra noodles should you have any remaining broth when you’re done your ramen. It’s a smart concept right?! You can add extra ramen toppings as well if you’d like, ranging from $2-$4.
Very cool wall mural made up of thousands of individual scales.
This is the main dining room where there are communal seating, tables, and kitchen-side bar seating. We were seated in another section (pictured above) that’s a little more private.
I <3 :d=":d" able="able" do="do" i="i" if="if" let="let" m="m" me="me" not="not" over="over" ramen="ramen" re="re" s="s" see="see" span="span" sure="sure" they="they" to="to" us="us" well="well" yet="yet">3>
Hmm…that’s strong. This ups the anticipation that much more!
There’s a ‘specials’ menu that included a squid ink ramen (18). A must-try we decided.
Darian often ordered beer to accompany his food…this time, KIRIN Ichiban Draft (6). I’m super asian when it comes to drinking so I only stole a few sips here and there. No way am I gonna get caught with a full blown asian glow!
Enough preamble and stalling, it’s ramen time!!!!
Ippudo Hiyashi Chuka (12) – cold ramen with various toppings
Vickie mentioned she was craving cold ramen hence us getting this summer special. It arrived like this, all colourful and healthy looking. My first thought, “where’s the flavor gonna come from?!”
That's right! It's GIF time!! (love gifs...mainly because of how they're like old-schooled video clips)
There’s a ladle of sauce on the side that you drizzle over the ramen. We’re not too sure what’s in it…ponzu, rice vinegar, soy sauce? Either way, we mixed everything together, divided, and conquered.
It may not look the most appetizing but it was revelatory!! How do you get so much flavour out of ramen, ham, shiitake mushrooms, egg, cucumber, sprouts and seaweed?! The dressing really was the star, but at the same time, it didn’t mask anything else that was going on in there. PERFECT for a summer day. Light, refreshing, may I have some more please?!
Wasabi Shoyu Ramen (15) – “Soy sauce and vegetable based noodle soup, topped with bean curd, wasabi, menma, nori, scallions, and wasabi infused oil”
I was scared for this bowl of potential super spiciness. When it came, the smell coming off this was intoxicatingly good. YUMMY! I couldn’t wait to dig in. That’s wasabi sitting atop the bean curd, it doesn’t look that scary.
The ramen here was perfect! Great bite to it, perfectly al dente. :D Not spicy at all, I actually wished there was more wasabi and/or wasabi oil in there to give it more pep. The bowl was awesome, both aesthetically and practically! No need to hover over the bowl, slurping up the deliciousness.
We were convinced to add “karashi takana” (3), which are spicy pickled mustard greens. I think this was a bad decision on our part because it didn’t really add much to the ramen. Perhaps we should’ve went with the other recommendation, "nitamago" (2, a seasoned salt boiled egg) instead.
Kuro-Obi Ramen (18) – “black squid ink ramen noodles in original 'tonkotsu' (pork) shoyu soup. Topped with chashu pork, menma, cabbage, naruto, and scallions.”
Exciting!! I’ve never had squid ink noodle/pasta before so I was super stoked. The tonkotsu broth is out of this world good! Beautiful. I love how the “chashu” (Chinese bbq meat. Yeah, Chinese brap brap!) is sliced.
Photos time. I swear we didn’t take long, ever! At the most, a minute in total per dish, although usually, it was more like 30 seconds. Everything in this ramen dish was perfect! Yeah, Andrew's camera is as big as his face! (multiple times have I tried to slip his camera into my bag..."You mean you're missing your camera Andrew? Maybe the hobo down the street teefed it from your bag!")
Just the right amount of heat to balance out the fattiness of the broth. Just one off-note, menma (bamboo shoots) ain’t my thing. That’s just me, so I passed mine off to Darian. :)
Here’s a peek at the black squid ink ramen noodles!!
Complimentary tea to cleanse the palette and to cap off our meal.
Here’s the bill! (don’t laugh at my receipt photos! They’re useful!)
A closer look at the communal table in the main dining room. The dark dining room is smartly lit so that you can see what you’re eating but not too bright so that you can slurp your ramen in relative privacy. ;)
Open kitchen! Bahaha I’m guessing they’re used to seeing hangry (yes, I meant to right “hangry” because the lines for ippudo aren’t nice…so you get angry + hungry as you wait!) patrons hunched over bowls of ramen.
Noodle bowls make up a great backdrop for the bar! Can you tell where I tried to piece two photos together? It’s a pretty shoddy editing job, I apologize! I’m not a photoshop wizard (YET!). muahaha
Yes, that’s their house-made ramen under the glass on the bar table. Oof, 2 for 1 deal on draft beer! Darian was thinking, “oh shucks!” when he saw this, although the Happy Hour special only applies at the bar. He wouldn’t ditch his friends to save $6 would he? Dundundun Ultimate test of friendship here!
Verdict: At first, I thought that $15 is a pretty steep price for ramen. After all, I’m used to the thirty packets you get from the grocery store when you’re too lazy to cook dinner and too cheap to go out for a real meal. No more cheapo ramen for me! The cold ramen was blew us all away. The “tonkotsu” soup is really as good as I expected! (It’s a bit cheaper during lunch.)
Check ‘em out! http://www.ippudony.com/index.php
4 out of 5 NOMs