20.5.13

Ippudo, Westfield Sydney

       
Ippudo Sydney- A glowing & welcoming entrance, with a nicely equipped bar and an amazing interior


             As the family foodie, my dad put me in charge of finding a restaurant to celebrate Mother's day. I chose Ippudo as I knew my parents rarely had the chance to eat Japanese food, especially ramen which they would usually only get in the instant- form. 

        Ippudo, founded by "Ramen King" Shigemi Kawahara in 1985 established its first international outlet in 2008, New York and has been rapidly expanding around the world since then. It is a restaurant that specialises in "Hakata ramen" (also known to most of us as Tonkotsu ramen: A thick broth made from boiling pork bones for many hours to give a hearty & creamy consistency) and creates the most authentic ramen by investing in the highest quality soup, noodles and other ingredients.

        Their menu doesn't offer a vast variety of items compared to normal Japanese restaurants around Sydney because of their specialty in ramen. However, they offer a very customisable range of ramen soup bases/ noodles/ ingredients & extra toppings to add to your dish. Also, they have a few popular entree items and are known for their specialty Japanese craft beers.



$4 (per single bun): Ippudo Pork Bun- Steamed bun with braised pork and IPPUDO original sauce

        My first item was their popular Ippudo pork bun. When you look at it, you may wonder what is so special about it and how it differs from the pork buns you can get from Chinese eateries. The steamed bun pairs extremely well with the soft, deliciously braised pork that melts in your mouth as you chew it and it really opens up your appetite to more food at the restaurant. The pork slice was definitely a unique taste to me and was impressive as the tenderness of the meat and sauce being present through the entirety of the meat meant that it must have been braised for hours.  The only thing that I have to criticise about is that I could eat the whole damn thing in two bites because it was so tasty, but so small.

 
$8: Ippudo Teba- Fried chicken wings glazed with Ippudo special black pepper sauce

        Next up was another entree, the Ippudo Teba. A friend mentioned to me that these wings were particularly good, so I had to try them too. The wings were crispy on the outside, meat tender and juicy on the inside as one would expect deep fried wings to be. However, the important part of this dish was the sauce. The Ippudo special black pepper sauce was a sweet- ish, garlic- y sauce which wasn't as peppery as I had hoped and reminded me of the taste of Black Garlic Ramen (the latest trend in ramen). This dish was great, but did not wow me enough that I would order it again the next time.

 
$16 + $2: Akamari Shinaji Ramen w/ Nitamago (flavoured egg) IPPUDO original tonkotsu broth enhanced with special blended miso paste and fragrant garlic oil. Served with one Nitamago (soy sauce flavoured, molten/ lava egg)



        Of course, the ramen would be the main dish of the night. At Ippudo, there are three different ramen soup bases you can choose from and the one that I picked, the Akamari Shinaji, is a "refined, modern- style ramen" containing an addition of their special miso paste & garlic oil to their classic pork broth. The soup mixture is served with ultra- thin ramen noodles which apparently were invented to cater for the quick demands of the Hakata crowd (thinner noodles, faster cooking time!).

Bear with me, the complexity/ awesomeness of the ramen deserves such a long description of its taste!

        My first instinct after receiving the bowl was to try a spoon of the soup, which is usually the biggest factor in determining the quality of a bowl of ramen. As expected of Ippudo, the bowl of ramen was extremely complex & well formulated: the texture/ consistency of the soup was perfectly creamy and tasted hearty with the rich & meaty pork flavour divulged throughout the dish. Garlic, a widely- used and highly valued culinary spice is one of my favourite ingredients in savoury dishes. Hence, the garlic oil addition to me was amazing and helped enhance the soup's flavour significantly, just like chilli does in a lot of dishes. The pork Chāshū (or pronounced as Char Siu by the Cantonese population) is prepared traditionally by rolling the pork into a log then braising it for hours at a very low temperature, giving it a fantastic tender & juicy texture. The Chāshū accompanying my ramen was exactly this and more. Usually, I would find thinner slices of pork served with ramen at other Japanese restaurants around Sydney. However, Ippudo was generous with their thick- cut slices of Chāshū and the meat was braised so well that it melted in my mouth as I chewed on it. The ultra- thin ramen noodles were also perfectly cooked, not too hard or too soft and apparently made with Australian wheat, whereas some Japanese restaurants would go for the imported. Last of all, the Nitamago, a common addition to ramen noodles, is an egg braised with soy sauce overnight and made with perfect timing so that the yolk is runny like "lava". To me, this egg, just like the garlic oil is an essential ingredient to ramen noodles as the runny egg yolk pairs extremely well with the creamy broth and noodles when eaten together. The outer, soy- braised egg white section is also delicious when eaten with the ramen.



 $9: Asahi Draught Beer

        Not going to spend much time describing this one. As most beer lovers would know, tap/ draught beer/ beer from the keg or whatever you want to call it, tastes best than in the bottle form. Asahi is also probably my favourite Asian beer.
 

$10: Hot stone unagi rice- Grilled Japanese eel on rice with original Kabayaki sauce

        To me, Japanese cuisine would not be the same without Unagi. I absolutely love eating the eel, especially when prepared with traditional Kabayaki sauce, which is kind of a sweet soy- based sauce that is glazed onto the eel before being grilled. The rice surprised me though, as traditional Japanese short/ medium- grain rice wasn't used for the dish.

        I would have to say that Ippudo has served the best ramen that I have had in Sydney. However, I'm definite that restaurants in Japan would hold that title if I had to compare worldwide (Very keen on going at the end of this year!). The service was remarkable, as expected of Japanese restaurants and the atmosphere is impressive! The ramen was a bit pricey though compared to other eateries but well- worth the cost.

I would certainly come back to try the other soup bases & their Japanese craft beers with some friends and definitely recommend this place for those who are craving a hot bowl of ramen!

Verdict (considering atmosphere, price, service and taste): 8.5/10

 

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1 comment:

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