Bites Outside the Bubble: Ippudo
By Julianna Brenner
As we head toward days filled with cooler weather, more books to read, and long hours in the library you may begin to crave a warming dish, a fun outing, or a trip away from campus. Ippudo, Japanese Ramen Noodle Brasserie, can provide all of that and more. The restaurant originated in Fukuoka, Japan and now has three locations in New York City — in the East Village, on 5th Avenue, and Midtown (on West 51st).
The East Village location, their first overseas restaurant, is definitely a sight worth seeing. Beautifully decorated plates and bowls line a deep red wall. The light fixtures call your attention. Japanese murals cover the walls and an emphasis on wooden decor creates a cozy and appealing atmosphere. You enter into the ever-crowded and loud bar, which makes your trip to the table all the more exciting. You’ll forget all about school and the busy New York street just outside. The waitstaff and chefs are kind, enthusiastic, and even call out to you in Japanese as you head toward your table. You may be seated at a communal table, which gives you a better look at nearly every delicious dish you could order and your fellow diners’ faces of pure enjoyment. You’ll also see a few people seated alone devouring their bowls of ramen, which should show you just how good the food really is. One thing to note is that Ippudo is always busy. If you go for dinner or on a weekend, prepare for a wait of sometimes up to an hour, but don’t get deterred.
The appetizers at Ippudo are all delicious and dynamic, which is great because you’ll always have something new to try. They offer specially salted edamame, crispy and glazed Hirata chicken wings, shishito peppers, and even Tako (octopus) Wasabi. But, for your first trip to Ippudo you must start with the Hirata Buns. These steamed buns are so soft and warm you’ll want to crawl inside and take a nap, or even hibernate. The filling, your choice of pork or chicken, is soaked with Ippudo’s own spicy mayonnaise sauce, which will make you rush to Google for a comparable recipe. You will want two orders.
The main event, the ramen, is just as delicious. The bowls are large and filling so don’t hesitate to take some home to savor for days to come. The Shiromaru Hakata Classic ramen is Ippudo’s specialty and is served with pork loin, mushrooms, red pickled ginger, and scallions. It is a Tonkotsu (pork based) ramen that they take great pride in. The soup, though creamy, is remarkably soft and light. The thin accompanying noodles are cooked al dente and the pork loin is perfectly cooked so that it mixes nicely into your colorful bowl and then melts in your mouth. Don’t worry if you are a vegetarian — Ippudo offers plenty of appetizer and ramen choices free of meat. The ramen dishes range from $15 to $18, which are very reasonable prices for the unique flavor and quantity of your order.
Ippudo may become your new go-to spot beyond the Barnard bubble and, if it does, then there is even more exciting news. Ippudo is spreading throughout the city in the form of Kuro-Obi, a quick-service ramen bar. There are already four of these time-saving locations, so pin them on your map and head over for a visit — after eating at the original Ippudo, of course. Keep this fun, flavorful restaurant in mind as fall comes upon us and you and your friends face the hardest question of “where should we eat?”.