Food + Soju + Good Times
On a lazy Sunday afternoon, I had lunch with Mr. Coffee at Ippudo, the famous Japanese ramen chain. It is conveniently located up the street La Colombe coffee . This was my second visit to Ippudo, which opened in Seoul in summer of 2011.
The interior is very clean, modern and whimsically decorated. You might want to check out the bathrooms, they have a little patio area outside that is very nicely done, like a zen garden. The service is a little overzealous but maybe that’s how all restaurants are in Japan?
They have two types of ramen, the Shiromaru Motoaji (the Original) and the Akamaru Shinaji (the Special). To the Special they add miso paste and fragrant garlic oil, which definitely helps to mask the gamey smell and taste of the pork loin based broth. We also paid KRW 3,500 extra to get our ramen with “all the toppings”, which includes extra pork loin (chasu), a boiled egg, and roasted seaweed. I highly recommend paying the extra money to get all the toppings, it just looks way more appetizing compared to a plain ramen. And we eat with our eyes and nose first, then our mouth. Presentation counts for a lot!
I am not a Japanese ramen connoisseur and I know there is a sub-culture of people who thinks of it as an art, but I was not impressed. The broth is good and hearty but also very greasy. I thought the noodles were too thin, there was not enough chewing action in my mouth. What am I really eating here? Am I just slurping soup from a gigantic spoon? The egg was boiled to perfection, the yolk was still runny. Last but not least the chasu was sliced too thin and way too limp, it had no bite.
The pork buns for KRW 8,000 are pricey but absolutely delicious! The highlight of the meal. Notice the thickness of the chasu in the pork bun vs the ramen. I need to chew my meat not have it fall apart in my soup.
I would like to come back here again after learning more about the “art” of Japanese ramen, then maybe I can appreciate it more? I also want to come back to eat the pork buns and the gyoza (dumplings), I had them on my first visit and they were great! On the app’s menu, they had Tabasco Chicken Wing and NY Chicken Wing, which I was curious about. And the A La Carte menu has some very unusual items that could be either hit or miss.
Their prices are a little high but I think it would be a good place for a birthday party with a big group of friends. Order lots of app’s to share while you’re drinking sake or beer or their specialty cocktails. I noticed a sign that the second sake bar area was now open.
Rating: 6 out of 10
Ippudo Seoul website: http://www.ippudo.co.kr/