Sunday, March 21, 2010

Ippudo - Excellent Japanese Ramen House - New York City

Ippudo is my new word for describing something that rocks so much, mere words can't describe it.  As in, Shaun White's second run at the Olympics was IPPUDO.  Because that's how I felt when the first delectable ribbons of Shigemi Kawahara's ramen noodles touched my lips.

I've worked my way through many a Ramen House in Japan, and it quickly became an obsession.  As Kawahara's first Ramen House outside of Japan, I can attest to its authenticity, its excellence, its tradition, and its innovative approach.

Yes, there's a wait, and it's not the most pleasant of waits.  The front bar is crowded, a tangled mass of humanity, and standing outside is just not as interesting.  I was told it would be an hour wait; it was 42 minutes.  I appreciated the expectation management.  But then you enter Ramen Heaven, welcomed with the traditional shouts of "Irashaimase!" that have always made me feel like a special customer.  The decor is modern and beautifully minimalist, with clean lines, and the ability to watch the ramen experts perform their magic.  

If there was ever a time to order too much food, do it at a place like Ippudo, where misordering is rare, if at all existent.  We started with Japanese cucumber in a sesame oil dressing.  It was cool, fresh, crunchy, and with just a touch of heat - the perfect start as we transitioned to progressively heavier items.  Hirata Buns, pork belly swept with a spicy sauce and folded into a steamed bun proved itself to be satisfying.  Earlier in the evening, another pair of patrons insisted that the pork belly buns at Ippudo were better than Momofuku's.  What say you?!  Those are melt-in-your-mouth morsels of transcendence!  In the end, we agreed the brush of spiciness at Ippudo gave it points, but that the luxuriousness of Momofuku's pork belly still reigned supreme.  

Next, the spicy tofu and pork strips served in a hot stone bowl - a lift from Korean cuisine and its Sundubu Jigae, it was altogether sweet, salty, spicy, and irresistible.  We were approaching full, and knowing that our Ramen bowls would be coming shortly did not keep us from partaking.  Gluttons, we are.

Then finally, the pièce de résistance, the moment I had waited all evening to experience, the Akamaru Modern Ramen bowl arrived in all its glory, and flanked by its pages, Kakuni and Menma (more braised pork belly and seasoned bamboo shoots).  Taking in the sight of the colorful garnishes and milky broth shrouding gastronomic secrets created such an anticipation.  Next, a sip of the broth.  Just as there is a method to drinking wine, there is surely a method for enjoying a bowl of Ramen noodles.  Silky, balanced, sumptuous, and yet there was a levity that kept the richness from becoming overbearing.  Then the rapture of the noodles.  Toothsome, a textural wonderment, perfection.   I may have closed my eyes.  I'm not sure, but I do remember thinking, THIS is IPPUDO.

Ippudo - Japanese Ramen Noodle Brasserie
65 Fourth Ave (bet 9th and 10th Sts)
New York


Davis Miller said...

Point Break - A Perfect Bar Experience in NYC

A local friend recommended and took my Cali group to this amazing bar. He said that mostly locals came here so I didn't really know what to expect ambiance wise... but screw it, the view at this bar was absolutely breathtaking! No joke. I felt like a celebrity w/ superstar treatment as the staff are friendly and amazing to say the very least.

I don't know who the house DJ was but he definitely was playing music right up my alley. It would've been my dream for people to start dancing, but it's all good.

It's a bit sceney for my taste, but it really didn't bother me much. the bartenders knew their stuff, although their 1st cocktail was a little weak, when he saw i understood cocktails the next 2 were stronger. I also liked that even though the place was really hopping the bartender remembered what i was drinking when i came to order another. (he also understood how good a gin hendricks is, and not to overpower it with the mixer). It was amazing to see their “das boot” which is shaped like a boot filled with beer. Don’t get me wrong, I am not drunk…it’s an actual boot shaped beer container ready to be emptied..try it will love it!! can I forget, they even have a wheel o' shots where you just have to spin it and have to drink whatever shot it lands on!! Now call that bar creativity at its best!!!

We ordered the Veal and Fish Tacos. They were delicious. Mm! We ended up asking for spoons to polish off whatever remained in the platter. (Faux pas? Who cares as long as it gets in my tummy.) The fries were crispy, but not overcooked, just the way that I like them.

So take in this scene: You walk in to what seems like an overly crowded place, but soon fine an empty table. Time seems to stop and the only indicator of the night moving on is the moon and your brain cells slowly going to bed forever. The music is not to loud and the people around look good, the only thing left for you to do is to enjoy that drink you paid ridiculously low for and laugh at the joke your co-worker just told.

The vibe of the place just never seems to die out and if you happen to spot some NYC socialite, sports player, or star, don't let it get to you... because for that moment, this night they are no long more important than then you. In fact go up to them and introduce yourself!

All in all just a great place to meet new people, or just have drinks with people you already know. I've been to numerous bars in the city but i would say this place is just great. Very welcoming staff, very laid back ambiance. I’ve been here twice after my first visit with my Cali group . I would say its worth the every penny you spend!!

burt shulman 845 298 4229 said...

Resist Change.....

I have an idea for a new way of presenting wasabi.
Instead of a formless about piping it as a decorative element.
Please see: http://www.burtsplace.8k.wasabi.jpg

Any positive thoughts?


burt again said...

oopsy that link is:

Lina Bierker said...

Hey - that's great! Yes, indeed - why not?