>> Sunday, October 28, 2012
Price: $14-25 per ramen bowl
Location: 65 Fourth Ave, New York, NY
The Quick Bit:
+ great selection of different tonkotsu styled ramen
+ authentic ramen flavors outside of Japan
Δ wait times can be long
Δ price makes it a huge luxury
While ramen is normally considered a fast food item in Japan, the American attitude towards ramen is very different. Most people probably consider is a cheap yet filling meal enjoyed by "poor" college students. However, some other places have decided to enhance ramen to the point where it is a luxury food made from the best ingredients. One such establishment representing the latter philosophy is Ippudo.
When I visited New York, I knew the city was great for its diverse ethnic foods; one of the foods I wanted to try was the city's best ramen. After several people pointed out that Ippudo was considered the city's "best" I decided to visit during lunchtime to avoid the large crowds.
Inside Ippudo, the restaurant is much more the atmosphere of a trendy New York restaurant with Japanese influences than the Ramen-ya. While this didn't take away anything from the taste of the food, I did feel a bit out of place eating my ramen in such a swanky environment.
|shiromaru hakata classic ramen - tonkotsu, pork loin, kikurage mushrooms, menma, red pickled ginger|
As one of the bowls we sampled, we decided to go for the classic. This would give us the pure flavor of the tonkotsu broth without any added ingredients. As expected, the broth had a full a rich flavor; unexpected, the broth had a deep complexity capped by the delicate sweetness. Overall, this was a great bowl of ramen.
|akamaru chashu ramen - tonkotsu, pork loin, "umami dama", cabbage, sesame, kikurage mushrooms,|
black garlic oil, nitamago (soft boiled egg) (extra)
This preparation was widely considered the favorite of many who recommended Ippudo. The black garlic is very similar to the kotteri from Ramen Yamadaya. While I found this bowl of ramen to be very enjoyable as well, I felt that it did not hit the highs as well as other comparable ramens of the same style - namely this type of ramen goes for the strong, in your face, umami kick flavor profile.
While the shiromaru ramen had its own unique style, the akamaru ramen was very similar to the signature ramen from Yamadaya and Tsujita. While I felt that overall this ramen was better than Yamadaya's, I would probably rather eat at Yamadaya 19 times out of 20 due to the price difference. I also felt that it lagged a bit behind Tsujita's ramen in every category.
New York's best ramen was definitely a very enjoyable destination; the ramen served is as good if not better than most places in Japan. However, the price ultimately factors into the equation. Before you go to Ippudo, you should ask yourself the question of just how much you're willing to spend for "great plus" ramen rather than just great ramen.
Ultimately, Ippudo still delivers as New York's best ramen restaurant, but I will rank it in the higher category of awards due to its price. Thus, Ippudo is given the megabyte award.