Ippudo translates to ‘one wind hall’ in Japanese, and the ramen chain is so named (according to Wikipedia) because ‘at the time, there were dark clouds over the Kyushu ramen industry, and the founder CEO Kawahara intended to “blow wind and revolutionise the era“‘. While I’m not one to seek out ramen, it’s a mainstay of T’s diet. So, on his week off, I joined him and N to slurp some noodles at the now global chain that is Ippudo.
But first off, some side dishes.
Not having had my craving for kara-age satisfied by the disappointing teishoku at Yayoi, the Kara-age at at Ippudo ($4 for 3 pieces) hits the spot. Each piece has a crispy thin batter hiding some very juicy cuts of chicken thigh. So tasty, I could’ve eaten a whole plate of this crispy juicy goodness!
These are the Yamaimo Fries ($8), Japanese mountain yam sticks lightly battered and deep fried with a salted seaweed garnish and served with teriyaki mayo. The texture was somewhere between potato and sweet potato fries, while being crispy on the outside with a more-ishness from the seaweed salt and teriyaki mayo.
On our first visit to Ippudo some years ago, we’d ordered three different buns, with N and I having the intention of sharing and T believing he could eat this Shrimp Katsu Bun ($5 each or $13 for 3), which turned out to be the best of the three, all by himself. So this time, we order three of the same so there’s no sharing involved! The shrimp is fresh with a beautifully golden crispy batter that paired well with the crispy lettuce, the slight tang of the succulent shrimp and the softness of the steamed bun.
While the Japanese can enjoy ramen with broth that’s so thick you can stand a spoon in it like mud, I habitually go for the clearest broth on the menu. And this is the Tori Shoyu ($15) with housemade medium-wavy noodles in a clear chicken broth blended with special bonito extract, topped with original chicken chashu, bamboo shoots, chopped leek, Japanese fish cake, spring onions and roasted seaweed.
This was decent ramen. I miss the flavoured egg that’s a standard feature in all ramens in Japan, though. Otherwise, the chicken broth had good flavour although a pronounced flavour of leeks and spring onions came through even after taking them out, the chicken was a tad dry, and the medium noodles had a bit too much bite.
And a few months later, the Ippudo at Central Park celebrated the second anniversary of its opening with $10 ramen. This is the Shiromaru Motoaji (normally $15), a classic Hakata style ramen with their ‘original creamy tonkotsu broth served with thin and straight noodles, pork loin, bean sprouts, black fungus and spring onions’.
The broth had an enjoyable depth of flavour, with the pork loin here being more flavoursome and juicier than the chicken breast chashu in the Tori Shoyu, and the bean sprouts and black fungus adding a pleasant crunch.
Ippudo is located at Central Park RB07, Lower Ground Floor, 28 Broadway, Chippendale NSW 2008.