Ippudo just opened a new franchise at Star Vista, offering 1-for-1 ramen on their opening day, 06 Nov 2017. This is a special franchise because they don’t just sell ramen like what their other outlets do, they also serve cafe-inspired dishes like Lasagna Gyoza, Hattendo cream buns, coffee, as well as exclusive ramen dishes Maze Soba and Tantanmen (I thought I just blog about Santouka serving Mazesoba and Tantanmen not too long ago, and now Ippudo following suit? These are about two of Singapore’s best ramen chain anyway!).
My dining companion and I deliberately arranged to meet 2pm to avoid a possible lunch crowd, but what we could not foresee was the massive student fans from the nearby institutions joining in the ramen craze, eventually we waited for a good 60 minutes, by then I was already in a state of famine.
We both ordered their Akamaru Shinaji ramen, the basic version that comes without Tamago (additional $3, which in my opinion was a tad expensive). It really came very promptly that I suspect they were already cooking it even before we placed order (at least for the noodle, so what left was probably adding the ingredients).
The broth was Tonkotsu, with special blended miso paste along with lots of lard. It was then added with garlic oil, and of course, as its name suggested, chilli oil. The broth offers a rich milky taste, so delightful that my dining companion, who usually doesn’t finish her ramen broth, literally gulped everything that came inside the bowl. As for the noodle, we were asked how we’d prefer the noodle to be done, we wanted it to be medium, and that’s exactly how it turned out to be. The noodle, my favourite Kyushu-style Hosomen, was accompanied by the usual suspect of charsiu made of pork belly and loin (2 small pieces), bean sprout, black fungus, and spring onions. As expected, Ippudo ramen is quite satisfying.
After the meal, we were each given a Hattendo matcha bun for being among the first 500 patrons, which would have cost $2.50 each if bought from Hattendo’s outlet at Tanjong Pagar Plaza. 😀
I selected their Zero Ramen, presumably the very first creation of Ippudo’s founder, a Nagahama styled ramen.
To side track a little, we often associate Kyushu ramen with Tonkotsu broth, that is generally true. But Kyushu has 8 prefectures, each of them may have their signature noodles, and not necessary ramen. For example, Nagasaki is Champon, and Oita is Beppu Reimen. There is no question though, that Fukuoka is the main ramen battlefield, so in actual fact, Kyushu ramen is more synonymous to Fukuoka ramen than anywhere else. Ramen culture typically started from Yatai around post WW2 era. Yatai is those mobile carts which vendors dragged to populated spots and usually began business in the evening time. These days, Yatai in Fukuoka can be found mainly in 3 regions, the most famous Tenjin region, the lesser known Nakasu region, and last but not least, the more conventional but less touristy Nagahama region. Ippudo started off from a restaurant in Daimyo district, a few streets away from Nagahama and Tenjin, probably closer to the latter. What I didn’t know was that Ippudo started off with Nagahama styled unsophisticated ramen, that is, very simple Tonkotsu broth without much fanfare. Ramen, as we all know, was very much a China import, but throughout these decades, Japanese had so much evolution on them that almost each broth has a ‘secret’ recipe. So to speak, since Ippudo named the following ramen Zero, and specifically stated that it’s the founder’s first creation, expect no surprises.
Very basic ramen using typical Kyushu styled thin noodle, even the chashu looks very yesterday, lean and without much process. For this price, really can’t expect much, but I have to say, I can get for around ¥400 in Fukuoka, though not from Ippudo. I hate to compare, but even old school Ajisen Ramen can do much better than that for this price.
This one from Ippudo Westgate is delicious! I have a knack for spicy food, I love that peppery touch infused with meat miso paste, and the charshu in this bowl certainly doesn’t fail to impressed! Good thing the broth is not as thick as I first worry, and overall, it’s pretty appetising.