Whenever I have ramen cravings and I am too lazy to research for new ramen places, only one place comes to mind – Ippudo. I have been eating at Ippudo for years and still go back to it because it has been consistently good and it is one of the few places that fixes my ramen craving. I prefer this outlet (Mohamed Sultan) as compared to the one at Mandarin Gallery because they accept reservations, opens till late (think supper after movie in town) and is always less crowded (I hope I don’t speak too soon).
Ippudo started in Japan’s ramen capital of Hakata, Fukuoka and has presence in places such as New York, Sydney, Hong Kong and Singapore. It specialises in tonkotsu (pork bone) broth ramen which is characterised by its velvety, cloudy white broth. 4 out of 5 of the mainstay ramens are tonkotsu base with varying blends to create different soup styles.
Other than being famous for its ramen, Ippudo is also well known for its pork buns.
A fluffy, pillow soft steamed bun encases a succulent piece of braised chashu – so tender that it simply melts in your mouth – with a creamy mayo based sauce. This is similar to the Chinese kong ba pau (pork slices with steamed bun), except that the meat is lighter in taste (which I prefer). Just try not to overload yourself with pork buns, after all the ramen is still the star of this place.
Classic ramen – Shiromaru motoaji ($15): Classic Hakata-style ramen. The broth was hearty and tasty, yet light on the palate (not laden with oil). Served was thin and straight noodles (no kee taste noted) and topped with tender and flavourful slices of pork belly, cabbage, black fungus, spring onions and pickled ginger. This would be suitable for those who prefer their ramen simple and safe.
Modern ramen – Akamaru Shinaji ($16): My all time favourite! Ippudo’s tonkotsu broth enhanced with blended miso and garlic oil. This is also served with served with thin and straight noodles (Hakata-style noodles) and topped with buttery slices of pork belly, black fungus and and spring onions. The rich and flavourful broth was more aromatic than the classic (garlic oil, of course) and this is also the reason why I love it so much. Even though the broth looks oily, it doesn’t leave a cloying feeling. So fret not and slurp away! The flavoured egg did not disappoint as well. It was still cold when served and the yolk (most important part for me) was deliciously molten, just the way I like it. This ramen would be suitable for garlic lovers and those who prefer a full flavoured broth.
Featured ramen – Bonito tonkotsu ($16): Another non-spicy take on the signature tonkotsu broth, this is made with bonito fish stock and served with Hakata-style noodles. The broth was heavy on the taste of the bonito fish stock and extremely flavoursome to say the least. Initial mouthfuls drew praises all over the table but the taste of the bonito fish stock got a little overwhelming after awhile. Tip: Adding raw garlic cuts through the rich tasting broth and the piquant taste of garlic adds an extra kick to the ramen. This would be suitable for those who are fans of bonito and/or like strong, bold flavours.
Prices stated above are for a bowl of basic ramen. Top up $3 for a flavoured egg, $4 for simmered pork belly and $7 for the works.
Overall, this is place recommended for its ramen (especially the Akamaru Shinaji). Ramen is on the pricey side, no doubt, but it is well worth the price. Service is prompt and queues are short even for walk-ins as well.
Ippudo SG is located at (1) Mohamed Sultan – 207 River Valley Road #01-55/56 UE Square (by the side road facing a temple/ The Patisserie) and (2) Mandarin Gallery – #04-02/03/04.
It is not at the most convenient of places but it is easily accessible by car and there are ample parking spaces at UE Square.
PS: Ippudo TAO has been rebranded as Ippudo SG with effect from August 2013.
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