I finally got to try the Westside branch of Ippudo in NYC. Ippudo, a branch of a chain from Japan, has had a location down in the East Village for years, and it was one of my most favorite ramen places. It has been a bit of a “scene,” with an active bar area with lots of fashionable young people on dates or in groups. Within the past few years, they openened another branch over on 51st street.
I was in a big hurry this visit, and I think that impacted my enjoyment of the meal a bit. Luckily I was seated within 10 minutes (often Ippudo can have a long wait).
The crowd was attractive fashionable young people hanging out at the bar area having drinks, much like the I remember from the other location. I was seated at the bar area next to a couple on a first/blind date; he was a young guy from Long Island with a fancy watch who went to college upstate and is now starting out in finance, and she was a premed at one of the NYC colleges. He actually knew a lot about ramen and Japanese food and spent a lot of time teaching her about it. It was close enough seating that I basically couldn’t help but hear their whole date conversation, and I think that is probably reflective of the ambience of the place overall.
As a starter, I got a fusion maki full of vegetables (notice the orchid on the plate). It’s nice to be able to get something light, as many ramen places just have side dishes like fried chicken and fried rice.
I got the torishio ramen, with a side of pickled mustard greens. Overall the soup was excellent. The broth was a delicious, light shio style. The noodles were a little bit too Hakata style for my taste (I like a little more curly/springy and yellow), but good. The add-ins were delicious. The egg was very good.
Overall, like the one in the Village, this Ippudo has excellent food. It’s one of the most fashionable and up-market ramen joints I’ve ever been in, and you may have a long wait if you go during a busy time.
I don’t know if Ippudo is still one of my favorite places in the world for ramen, but it’s still quite good, and worth a visit if you go to NYC.
As a side note, apparently the chain in Japan itself isn’t really something super special; it is just the NYC locations that have become so hip and fashionable. I guess it’s a bit like McDonald’s in places like Russia and Brazil; in the US obviously nothing special or particularly a destination, but when the first McDonald’s opened in these places, it was definitely a destination for the hip and well off youth.