Jul 19 2011

Love At First Bite – Ippudo NY

Okay, for someone who has never formally written a restaurant review, here goes my second attempt in the past month:

A few days ago I turned on my DVR and tuned into an old episode of the Food Network’s “The Best Thing I Ever Ate.” For those of you unfamiliar with the program, the title is pretty self-explanatory;  star chefs from around the country share their favorite culinary delights with viewers. This particular episode focused on delicious foods to eat with chopsticks, with Ippudo NY as a highlighted venue.  Ippudo specializes in house-made ramen noodle soups.

Well as fate should have it, I was hopping on a plane to NYC the very next day.  As any trip I take is planned around the city’s local cuisine, I was certain to make a lunch date at Ippudo.

At first I was afraid of letting the Facebook community in on a hidden gem, but really what kind of traffic can my 10 regular blog readers generate? And I’m not the selfish kind, I like to share all my food secrets. Truthfully, I’m embarrassed that I had never tried this place after all my years in NY, and I want to make sure other New Yorker’s don’t make the same mistake. Because, this was, hands-down, the most delicious ramen noodle soup I’ve ever eaten.

Making fresh ramen noodles is no easy feat.   As I quickly discovered in my research, the recipe is a closely guarded Japanese secret. It’s not like making fresh pasta, as it involves the use of some interesting chemicals (kansui) which give ramen their unique texture.   Perhaps why most restaurants buy ramen rather than invest the time in making it fresh. IT IS WORTH THE TIME AND EFFORT!!!

I asked the waiter to recommend the best dish on the menu and he selected Akamaru Modern Ramen:

The original “Tonkotsu” noodle soup topped with Ippudo’s secret “Umami Dama” miso paste, pork chashu, cabbage, kikurage, scallions, and fragrant garlic oil.”

The texture  of the noodles was springy, yet al dente, and unlike any ramen noodle I’ve ever tasted. This, thankfully, did not bring back memories of the freshman 15.

Now let’s talk about the broth – a combination of flavors that is indescribable. I actually spent about 5 minutes just taking in the aroma before I even tried the first bite.  I wish I could tell you what it tasted like, but there’s no point in even attempting to. Hell, you just have to go.  And the very generous pieces of pork belly, mixed with fresh miso and veggies….simply amazing. I’m not one to curse often, but this is an emphatic –  holy f$%king sh#t!  Run, don’t walk. And go at lunch, apparently the lines at dinner are killer.

The website describes ramen as “a cosmos created in a bowl.” I would have to agree with this particular statement. I heart you Ippudo. Please, please open in Chicago. I promise to be the first in line.

Ippudo NY

65 4th Avenue, NYC, NY