This very popular Japanese ramen chain from Fukuoka, Japan has finally landed on Sydney’s shores and set up shop inside Westfield Sydney, conveniently located next to the food court. I went to try it out in the opening month and the line outside the restaurant was quite ridiculous – the trick is to get in just before the peak lunch hour at 12pm or do takeaway and eat in the food court.
I went to try Ippudo with my friend who has been raving about this place ever since he came back from his stay in Fukuoka. We snagged a table just before noon on a weekday and found ourselves seated at a long communal table. The decor of the restaurant is quite modern, with heavy use of wood on the ceiling to create raised wave-like shapes. It’s quite dim inside, but there is a bright kitchen visible through clear glass windows where you can view the staff bustling around.
I spot some pork buns on the menu and it’s a no brainer to order them as sides to our ramens. As I hadn’t tried the famous Momofuku pork buns yet, I had no benchmark to compare these buns to but they lived up to the expectations I had set in my own mind about them. Served on a small plate, these wonderfully soft steamed buns enveloped a slab of tender braised pork belly and was seasoned with Ippudo’s original sauce which was a creamy mayo. If only these little parcels of delight were bigger!
Pork bun, $4 each
Although the pork bun had left me wanting more, I had also ordered the Akamaru Shinaji ramen. I love the thin noodles which their ramens come with, as it’s a refreshing change from the traditional yellow ramen noodles served everywhere else – these noodles remind of ultra fine soba noodles and are quite soft. The soup also strikes a nice balance between the rich tonkotsu base and the strong flavours of the added miso paste and garlic oil to create a broth which is not too thick like the popular Gumshara one, yet still as flavoursome. The single piece of thick pork chashu thrown into the ramen is rather mediocre, but otherwise I like the rest of the toppings in the ramen – the shredded black mushroom is an interesting touch.
Akamaru Shinaji Ramen, $16
My friend is a more seasoned veteran of the authentic Ippudo ramen experience and he goes for extra hard noodles with his Karakamen which consists of Ippudo’s original tonkotsu broth with a special spicy miso and ground pork. It is much redder than my ramen and tastes spicier too, but I’m not a fan of the harder noodles as they taste slightly uncooked to me but it might appeal to those who like chewier noodles.
As a side note – if you’re a garlic fan like I am, you can ask the waitstaff for their special garlic crusher which comes with a little bowl of garlic cloves for you to feed into the silver contraption and DIY some freshly crushed garlic as a topping for your ramen. Also if you’re still hungry for more noodles you can ask for top ups for a few dollars extra if you have soup to spare after you finish your first serving.
I get the feeling that even though the ramens at Ippudo are slightly pricier than other options in Sydney, I’ll be back regularly to indulge in their addictive ramen and delicious single serve pork buns, but only in their takeaway line until the crowds die down.
Westfield Sydney, Level 5
Sydney NSW 2000
Phone:(02) 8078 7020