[adsensea]Thanks to David Coates at Ippudo, I was invited to sample ramens and to discover the story behind Ippudo!
I came to Ippudo Sydney on the very first day it opened. I did not order ramen that day as there was a heatwave… All the bloggers commented on the whys I had not tried the famed ramen… and I sure felt like I had missed the amusement ride of my life. As such, when winter came, I got back to sample couple of ramen, making up for my faux pas. I never took the time to blog about the multiple ramen bowls I ate nor amend the first post, but better late than never!
I came in early, so the restaurant was a third full at 5.45pm… but filled up pretty quickly for a monday evening. I was impressed to see a queue of customers by 6.30pm! I was offered a welcome drink, and chose a lychee mojito (AUD 16) which was a delight! Second drink I ordered later on was Aragoshi Umeshu (AUD 11).
The pork bun was awesome, as usual… It is and has always been Monsieur and I’s must have each and every time we came, so I’m pretty happy we get one each! That being said, the pork to bun ratio has sensibly improved from the first time we came, and I’m very happy to get more of that pork… that takes ages to cook!
After this little mise en bouche, the manager explains the story of Ippudo, and how the first flagship store opened in Hakata, South West of Japan. If there’s one thing I love more than talking about food, it is to listen to someone who can talk extensively about food (Yes… I’m a maniac!) The night sounds promising!
I’ve learned a few things:
- Ramen are of chinese origin, and when it reached Japan, it became the soul food.
- Ramen and pasta share 3 classic ingredients: water, salt and flour… but Ramen have something more: kansui! A secret ingredient that reacts with the wheat, giving it a bouncy and springy texture
- the milky broth that comes with the ramen was accidentally created, when a chef mixed oil with water and boiled the two liquids… creating milk from the emulsion.
- ramen’s broth was very very stinky… And Hakata (the city) apparently still remains very smelly to this day. So Ippudo keeps its customer satisfied, it throws the water to get rid of the smell!
I spent a very educational and enjoyable evening! And after a photo shoot session – where we were explained that ramen had a very short life span once they were cooked – we got to sample 3 kinds of ramen:
1. Ippudo Shiromaru (AUD 15): The most classical ramen ever. The first hakata style noodles they served in their flagship store. It has thin noodles, pork loin, cabbage, black mushrooms and shallots.
The pork being used here is pork loin, much leaner than the pork used in other ramen bowls. The manager explains us that there is a different level of noodles softness we can order: Yawa being the very soft ones, to barikata being the super hard one (the ramen take only 5 seconds to cook!). Apparently, some madmen would order Harigare ramen, literally meaning steel wire ramen – cooked for 2 seconds, if they’re in a hurry and can’t wait three more seconds! For those who can bear to eat raw ramen out of the package, the ultimate solution would be the koneotoshi style ramen, meaning powder dropper… and taking less than 1 second to cook!
2. Ippudo Akamaru (AUD 20 with the pork belly)
This ramen has no miso in the broth, but the red paste contains miso, minced pork, and to me… has a bolognese flavour. It is my favourite ramen among all the ramen we’ve sampled. The pork being used here is the pork belly or Chashu and mamma mia, it’s Oh So Good. Tender and melting in my mouth. I want more (though… I’m having too much already!)
3. Ippudo Karaka (AUD 21 with pork belly aka Chashu)
This is Ippudo’s signature dish, a modern version of Hakata noodles. These noodles, along with the Shiromaru ramen, were the ones I had tried with Monsieur. The red paste that sits on top is spicy, contrary to the Akamaru ramen, but the spiciness is far from overwhelming and very gentle. The ramen being used here are wavy ones (contrary to the noodles used for the two previous ramen sampled, which are straight), so the miso gets to tangle in said waves.
“Does anyone know about the 5th taste sense?” asks the manager… All the bloggers nod but me… “Umami dama” he says. You’ve got saltiness, sweetness, sourness and bitterness. The 5th sense is depth. So… Did you know about Umami dama?
Mademoiselle in Sydney was invited by Ippudo and left with a gift pack that had a pair of chopsticks, an Ippudo spoon, and a piece of fabric that Monsieur believes, should be worn on my head next time I cook ramen for him