Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Ippudo

36. Ippudo
65 4th Ave between 9th and 10th



The East Village has become something of a ramen mecca, with at least five different noodle shops within a few blocks of each other. Ippudo opened their first location in NYC after having considerable success with a chain of ramen shops in Japan and after trying a number of times to get a table, I succumbed to the waiting list and put my name down to join the masses. An hour and a half later my table was ready.

We sat at the bar to get a close-up view of the food being prepared and if the food was going to be anything like the d├ęcor, we were in for a great experience. Large booths surround communal wooden tables with plenty of viewing areas into the kitchen. We each ordered the Akamaru ramen which the restaurant describes as “new recipe, ramen noodles, thicker pork broth, berkshire pork chashu, cabbage, scallions.” What they forgot to list was something that added a pasty, slightly gritty taste (MSG? Miso?) that rendered the broth mediocre at best. The noodles were soft and slightly chewy, and the pork was tender and flavorful, but I just couldn’t get over the broth. It doesn’t even come close to Momofuku Noodle Bar.

I think that of all the items on the TONY list so far, I was most disappointed with Ippudo. Maybe it was because the hour and a half wait built up unrealistic expectations or that my recollection of Momofuku Noodle Bar placed Ippudo unfairly up against an unbeatable comparison, but whatever the reason, I can’t see myself returning to pay $16 for inferior noodles even without a wait.

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