When you talk about ramen, most likely you will hear three names that most people are familiar with. it’s either the Totto Ramen (which is famous for its’ forever long time waiting list), Santouka (Santoka ramen) which is also quite famous for the pork cheek, and then we have Ippudo which (unfortunately) is also famous for its’ East Village always-takes-forever-to-wait-in-line location and delicate soup broth.
Wait, what ever happen to Ichiran ramen? aren’t they famous too?
Technically, we are speaking about ramen in New York City so since Ichiran has not expanded to NYC then post about Ichiran will have to wait until I actually travel to Japan again — maybe later on with my boo 😉
Ok, enough rambling.
I have been to Ippudo (both East Village and Hell’s Kitchen location) for couple of times and I must say that they still offer the best ramen in NYC area. I would not give them perfect five stars though because the portion was somewhat little for me (even after the kaedama i still crave for more lol blame my salty tooth i guess) and they tend to charge more for the toppings. If I have to compare to smaller yet more “Japanese” like Hide-Chan ramen then i would say I definitely put Hide-Chan on top and then Ippudo second.
So that night after the Broadway show I asked boo whether he wanted to eat at Ippudo because I knew they open pretty late on Saturday. since the nearest ippudo from Longacre theatre would be the Hell’s kitchen one then we agreed to just went there. It was around 11 PM when we got there and there would be a ten minutes wait. lo and behold, it did not take ten minutes (more like four lol) before we were seated.
What did we order?
My order of Karaka-Men: The original “Tonkotsu”(pork) broth with an added kick; thin noodles with Ippudo’s special blend of hot spices, topped with pork chashu, sesame kikurage mushrooms, cabbage, scallions, and fragrant garlic oil.
Boo’s order of Akamaru modern ramen: A more bold translation of the original pork broth; thin noodles topped with Ippudo’s secret “Umami Dama” miso paste, pork chashu, cabbage, sesame ki- kurage mushrooms, scallions, and fragrant garlic oil.
Both ramen tasted delicious although I just wish the Karaka-men has more kick on the spiciness level. To be honest, every time I go to Ippudo I always order Karaka-men because it has the perfect balance of delicate pork broth and spicy paste. Boo’s akamaru was also good and perfect for those who does not favor spicy paste at all. Although in the end boo actually thought that my karaka men was not that spicy and he said if we go back he might just order Karaka-men like me 😉 And yes, we also had Kae-dama which is system that offers you an extra serving of noodles. When you have almost finished your first servingof noodles, order by saying, “Kae-dama, please.” In a few minutes the server will bring yo u another ‘ball of noodles’ and put it in the soup. Mind you that you need to have at least a good amount of soup still in your bowl otherwise they won’t let you do that.
For both of our order (with the Kae-dama), the bill came to just under $40 (I believe it’s around $34 excluding tax and gratitude) so yes for me this is part of the reason why I did not place Ippudo on the first place. However for some ‘die-hard’ ramen lovers out there who frequent lots of ramen joints then this price might be okay but if you order more than just the ramen entree (like the appetizer and stuff) then most likely your bill gonna costs more than $40 for two. I mean i loved ramen (I adore ramen to be honest) but I cannot see myself frequently eat at Ippudo every week let alone every day. However, Ippudo can be your next go-to ramen place if you feel like trying something new or just curious about it.
Ippudo West Side (Midtown)
321 West 51st Street, (Between 8th and 9th Avenue)
New York, NY 10019
Nearest transit: 50th Street C and E trains (close by), 50th Street 1 train (1-2 minutes walking), 49th Street N, Q, R trains (4-5 minutes walking)