- scene: Everyone from NYU students, to tourists, to Anne Hathaway comes here for their ramen fill. Nicer ambiance than your average East Village noodle spot.
- sip: Mediocre wine, decent Japanese beer & sake by the glass and bottle
- savor: RAMEN! Any kind will do, but the Miso Ramen is a personal Pants favorite
- sit: Solo at the communal table, with a group at a cushy banquette, or if you are a lucky, one of few tables for 2.
- spend: $$
- address: 65 4th Avenue (btw 9th St & 10th St)
- phone number: (212) 388-0088
- website: http://www.ippudony.com
There is some food you just can’t comprehend how good it is are until you try it.
To be honest, the Pants have been hearing about ramen forever, even ventured to a well known spot on St. Marks to give it a try, and just weren’t impressed. It wasn’t until a trip to Japan that ramen, and basically every type of Japanese cuisine I either already love or didn’t really know, knocked me on my ass and said, “you haven’t unbuttoned shit yet!” Once I left an underground miso ramen joint in Tokyo, housed in the basement of a department store that required you to pay by vending machine, I finally felt like I could revisit NYC’s ramen hot spots and attempt to find a similar bowl.
I’ve spent hours brainstorming how I can properly convey the taste and also the utter joy and satisfaction one feels after devouring a bowl of ramen at Ippudo, but honestly – golden tickets, lottery tickets, puppies, unicorns, and fireworks just don’t do the trick. You have to go, you have to wait, and you have to finish what is put in front of you at Ippudo and then you will understand what I’m talking about.
I was always intimidated to go to Ippudo, but after the aforementioned trip, I felt a little bit better about what I was getting into and ventured over there on a crappy Monday afternoon for lunch. At noon, there was no wait for one so I sat at a table full of lone diners, all either slurping away or playing on their iphones. Sidenote back to the lottery ticket – showing up at Ippudo and waiting for less than 20 minutes means you should probably go buy one afterwards because you one lucky bitch!
After a few more visits (and some incredible luck with the wait time, knock wood), I still haven’t met a ramen bowl at Ippudo that I didn’t love. If you go in the Fall, you may be lucky enough to try the Kuro Tan Tan Men special ramen. Wear dark clothes, and don’t let the color scare you, as a black sesame sauce is added to the tonkotsu (pork) broth… and you know it’s actually polite to slurp, so get at it! The Miso Ramen with the bakudan (spicy paste) topping took me back to Tokyo and is probably number one on my list, but even the soy sauce and vegetable based Wasabi Shoyu Ramen will leave you smiling – especially topped with pork belly.
Although I’ve heard raves about the pork buns, I have yet to try them – the only pig I am concerned with is in the broth! The special sea bass with silken tofu appetizer gave depth these two (seemingly) lighter items – probably because they arrive sunken in a tasty dashi broth – but you don’t necessarily need, or want, to fill up before your bowl of amazingness arrives.
If I could, I would dress up as a Harajuku Girl (in case you are wondering, I have the attire) and be Ippudo’s mascot, telling everyone who passes by the restaurant that they need to stop and put their name on the list for a table and let all of their worries drown away in ramen; unfortunately, there are thousands of others like me, who are probably already lined up there now. As the New Year approaches, see below as to how you can fulfill some of your resolutions right at Ippudo:
1. Patience – being told an hour (or more) wait may test it, but you can do it!
2. Exercise – being this full will get you onto the treadmill in no time!
3. Inner happiness – see review above and find it in NYC’s best spot for ramen!