I must confess I’d never heard of the Ippudo chain before it opened at Westfield. For my fellow Ippudo ignorami, apparently the first one opened in Japan in 1985 in a place called Fukuoka – use your imagination on the pronunciation – and Australia is foreign country number six to get one. But their PR machine is obviously well oiled, because very quickly everyone seemed to have heard about it and the queues were longer than long.
I’ve never been a big ramen eater, on the handful of occasions I’ve just found it too salty or too watery with no flavour, but they say (who is they exactly I’m not sure) this is meant to be the ramen to eat if you are going to try it.
Health warning: you may have a nightmare that evening of people chanting Irrashaimase repeatedly at you. I’m impressed that the staff can still do it with gusto after about the 70th time.
My friend and I hadn’t caught up for a while and wanted to chat, and I liked the fact that the staff weren’t pushy with us and hurrying us up to order. Everyone was friendly and welcoming.
So on the menu
The pork buns. These were quite a generous size and just plain yum. Succulent pork with a nice tang to the sauce – an absolute bargain at $4 a pop. A lot of people have compared these to Momofuku, I think they are different but both delicious, with the latter being more a slow braise.
Gyoza – I’m used to big, fat, plump, juicy gyoza. So these small slightly crunchy ones weren’t really my style. Don’t rush to order these.
Bakuretsu Tofu – tofu with minced pork, and noodles served in a sizzling stone pot, and yes it really was sizzling when it was delivered to the table. This was a winner, the spice of the broth and the slight crunch of the noodles – great combination.
Shiormaru Motojai – their original tonkotsu broth with thin noodles, pork loin, and black mushrooms. The ‘egginess’ of the noodles, the ‘porkiness’ of the broth – delicious. No wonder I didn’t like ramen before, I just hadn’t been eating any good ones.
The food was $39 for the two of us, and we were well sated. There is a reasonable wine selection by the glass at $10 a pop. This isn’t fine dining or anything salubrious, but its great for a casual meal at a very reasonable price point.
In the words of Arnold - “I’ll be back”.
Ippudo, Westfield Sydney Level 5, ph (02) 8078 7020