Ippudo NY || 5/22/12

Nestled in an unassuming block on 4th Avenue, Ippūdō NY is a fixture amongst ramen aficionados, manhattan foodies & college students looking to class up their budget meals.  Founded in Fukuoka (hey, that's where my family is from!) by Shigemi Kawahara, the CEO of Chikaranomoto Co, Ippudo was Kawahara's answer to the Kyushu's dying ramen industry.  He named his chain Ippudo, or "one wind hall" because his intention was to use the restaurant to "blow wind and revolutionize the era."

With a chain of restaurants all over Japan, Kawahara set his sights on another little island, Manhattan.  Ippudo NY is their first overseas location, opened in 2008.  Since then, fans have flocked from all over the country for a bowl of steaming ramen, fatty pork belly, succulent eggs and a taste of their mouthwatering noodles.

Akamaru Modern ($14) w/ Nitamago
For every Ippudo fan you meet, there's always a dozen of their friends who claim this & that other restaurant has better ramen, better noodles, better broth, better pork belly... but there's one thing that's undeniable, Ippudo has created a brand that constantly attracts massive crowds & diehard eaters, making this US outpost a serious destination.  And since they don't take reservations, you can either expect to eat early (like right when the doors open) or wait up to 2 hours for a coveted spot inside their moderately sized dining room.

Having a free afternoon, my friend & I decided to brave the storm and try our luck at this delicious eatery.  Thankfully we only had to deal with a 20 minute wait, pretty nice for a weekday lunch time.  Wanting a variety of flavors we opted for an Akamaru Modern, a dish that really represents their revolutionary flavors, and the special Kasane Black, mostly because I have a hard time resisting anything doused in black garlic oil.  The Modern is dubbed thus because of the addition of Ippudo's secret "Umami Dama" miso paste which adds an incredible layer of depth to the already delicious broth.  The noodles as I've said before are to die for... and the addition of the Nitamago is the perfect vehicle to mop up all of the delicious flavors in one bite.  Honestly a perfectly pleasing bowl of happy.

Kuro Kasane Black ($16)
On the other hand, I screwed up my Kasane Black order.  Not wanting to be overly gluttonous I very erroneously omitted adding on an extra order of Kakuni braised pork belly.  Major fail.  Part of what makes the fatty black garlic oil so powerful, is well, fat.  This bowl needed a little extra.  Chashu is good and all, but there's nothing quite like a huge block of succulent belly to make a meal perfect, right? And next time I'm certainly adding on a dollop of their Bakudan Ippudo original spicy paste for an extra kick.  Yes. I will be back.  That's something I'm certain of.

Ippudo NY
65 4th Avenue (@ 9th Street)
New York, NY 10003
(212) 388-0088