It’s much more than a Ramen restaurant: it’s an experience. It's called Ippudo and it’s happening in New York. I’ve been here before, waited an hour to be admitted, sat at a corner table with no lighting to take photos with a group that didn’t like Ramen...and I loved it so much then that I've visited again. It was 5 pm when I arrived and had to wait for ten minutes outside to get a table.
Sitting at the bar, I soaked up and enjoyed the Ippudo experience. I ordered more food that I could handle but I knew it was going to be great!
With an open kitchen surrounding the dining space, a chimney in the middle and several intimate seating booths around the space, the restaurant has a special feel to it. The ritual here is shouting: every time someone comes in all the team screams a welcoming message which people tend to repeat. This puts guests in a positive mood.
Start with the signature sticky Bao, two of them, buns filled with thick fatty and crunchy pork belly marinated in sweet sauce. They’re a great way to start your meal, beautifully textured, smooth, intensely flavorful... I wish someone could do them as well in Lebanon. With that, I got a plate of edamame, like any edamame except for the lemon salt dip which makes them different.
Enjoying their in-house Japanese beer the Acahi, I was having fun looking at people fighting with their chopsticks. Some knew how to use them while others didn’t. Asians use them in one way and we use them in a completely other manner.
Two wooden skewers holding Pork belly slices, one meat, and one fat, surely not the healthiest of things to eat but something you cannot miss. The juiciness of the meat, the taste of this fat... it’s so yummy!
Fried soft shell crab, crunchy chunks of crab meat, a biscuity envelop and a heart of seafood. A small portion but I recommend trying it.
And then the Ramen noodles arrived. One bowl is white and the other is red, water up to the top, a big portion of noodles, chunks of meat or tofu depending on your order, a hundred flavors and lots of balanced spices. I’ve been here before and loved it, now I'm back and I adore it.
All good, happy staff, enjoyable food, reasonable prices. Ippudo is your must try!