REVIEW

Ippudo NY

This swanky, cacophonous restaurant that is the first extranational outpost of a popular Japanese chain (it serves 20,000 customers a day) serves the best ramen in NYC. Be forewarned: Ippudo takes no reservations and, in our experience, the average wait is now between 2 and 2.5 hours. Amazingly, however, it is worth it. Ippudo excels in all things pork, particularly the tonkotsu broth for which they are justly famous (tonkotsu-broth has pork fat emulsified into the broth). It is a rich, complex and deeply flavorful soup that gives a smoky, nutty overtone to the Shiormaru Hakata Classic and the Akamaru Modern, which are best with Kakuni (braised pork belly) added. The fatty pork is tender and the slender, house-made noodles are always perfectly cooked. Ippudo is not a one trick pony, however, and serves several excellent non-ramen dishes. The shrimp tempura with a Japanese mayonnaise sauce, for instance, is simply perfect. And the restaurant has, hands down, the most addictive pork buns in the city, which, unlike Momofuku Noodle Bar’s also excellent, also deservedly famous pork buns, come with a type of mayonnaise and a bit of lettuce for textural variety. At the end of the meal, hot green tea is served.

Ippudo has an impressive interior outfitted with a trendy, downtown design. The always overflowing bar / waiting area has a glowing red globe dangling from the ceiling that echoes a red wall covered in ramen bowls. The countertops of the bar are filled with ramen noodles. In the main dining room, there are oversized murals of Japanese calligraphy, mirrors, a large firepit in the center of a communal table, a massive, wiry, bamboo tree-like sculpture and a view into the frenetic open kitchen. The music is loud and the scene often gets chaotic during the restaurant's busiest hours. As a consequence, service can be spotty. But there is no better option for a hearty meal on a cold winter’s night – or, for that matter, any time that you simply desire a sublime but inexpensive meal and have several hours to wile away in the East Village.

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