Ippudo in Manila: 7 things to try
MANILA, Philippines – The ramen craze is alive and kicking, and will no doubt find new life again in the opening of world-famous Ippudo, which opens its doors to diners in the Philippines for the first time on Wednesday, September 10.
Located on the 3rd floor of SM Mega Fashion Hall, Ippudo is a hip new ramen restaurant with roots in Fukuoka City, Japan, and branches in New York, Singapore, and Hong Kong.
Expect strong flavors and a surprising variety of choices – Rappler was told that while the Japan branches focus mostly on the noodles, some rice dishes will also be available in the Philippines.
The prices are competitive with the rest of the ramen restaurants in the metro, with bowls starting at P375 ranging to P490, depending on add-ons selected.
Non-noodle options spotted on the menu include the Ippudo Teppan Tonkotsu Garlic Rice (P290), Unagi (eel) on rice in hot stone pot (P490), and Hakata Meshi (rice topped with chashu and mentaiko with shredded egg, P250).
Rappler was able to taste a variety of dishes, plus the ramen – so here’s a look at what you might like to order.
Akamaru Shinaji (starts at P390 or $8.94)
Garlic oil is so often overused, tipped into the bowl with a heavy hand, infusing the dish with overpowering flavors – thankfully, this is not true for Ippudo’s ramen.
This dish in particular, my order of choice both in the Roppongi branch in Tokyo and my first try here in Manila, is complex and layered, from the fragrant garlic oil – sniff before slurping – to the crunchy kikurage, to the mysterious, flavor-infused reddish miso paste.
Even if you are usually averse to spicy dishes, it’s important – actually, imperative – that you try this one.
Enjoy with tea or lemonade to cut through the heavy flavors, or enjoy with the cucumper appetizer (Goma Q) for a light-tasting break in between.
Servings are large and satisfying. Warning: from the photos, you will want everything on the menu, so order strategically.
A tip from the staff: taste the broth, the individual components first before mixing it all up.
Shiromaru Motoaji (starts at P375 or $ 8.60)
This is the classic: thin, Hakata-style noodles stewing in tonkotsu broth with bean sprouts, spring onions and kikurage, the springy, brownish fungus that’s a staple in ramen bowls everywhere.
Ippudo Pork Buns (P100 or $2.29)
Billed as a New York-bestseller, this dish is quite sinful – braised pork belly resting deity-like in its steamed bun, in a bed of lettuce and mayo-based sauce. If you are ordering a full bowl of ramen, you may want to get this to share, or vice versa.
Ippudo Hakata-style gyoza (P195 for 5 pieces or $4.47)
The gyoza-and-ramen combination is especially lauded in its Japan branches – though you may want to get an order to share.
Note: The next 3 dishes you see here were photographed in the single-serve portions prepared only for the media preview. The actual dishes you’ll be served come in much larger servings.
Dashimaki Tamago with Mentaiko Mayo (P150 or $3.44)
Mentaiko or spicy cod roe is the star of this dish, which is a must only for lovers of tamago (omelette roll). Otherwise, given the rich variety of other dishes to choose from, this can be reserved for succeeding visits (we’re looking at the Ippudo bakuretsu tofu, P170, to try during our next visit).
Goma Q (P140 or $3.21)
This is a personal favorite, and not something commonly seen or offered in many Japanese restaurants. Order this to nibble between bites of your flavorful ramen. Don’t forget to dunk it in that addictive sesame dressing.
Curry Cheese Harumaki (P190 or $4.35)
Not to worry as the curry flavor in this dish is mild, not overpowering. Eat while it’s hot, all the way to the crispy end. This works with or without the mustard dipping sauce, and you will also want to attack the crisps below.
For the noodle dishes, remember that you can opt for the basic bowl, or opt for versions with the soft-boiled egg and/or chashu, with seaweed.
You may want to upgrade to the bowl with all the fixings, as there’s nothing quite like breaking open that soft-boiled egg and enjoying it with a heaping spoonful of broth.
Ippudo is the latest in a string of restaurants that have opened in the new annex of Megamall, which is decidedly more upscale. No doubt diners should expect long lines on Wednesday, most probably to rival those seen in the recently opened Tim Ho Wan. Meanwhile, older favorites like Lugang and 8Cuts continue to attract a steady stream of diners.
The entry of Ippudo, however, is likely to bring new vigor and life to the restaurant scene in the vicinity – doing for the industry what a truly good bowl of noodles can do for the soul. – Rappler.com
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