The Ippudo Dining Experience

Invited Food Review

I have a weakness for Japanese cuisine. Or rather a soft spot for it.

And so when Estelle from Openrice sent an invite for a food tasting at the popular ramen restaurant – Ippudo – I could not resist to accept the invitation!

I arrived and saw this looooooooooooong queue. If there is anything worth queuing in Singapore, it’s good food.

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Ippudo SG opened shop in Singapore on 12th Dec 2009 and is the second overseas venture after Ippudo NY. Its’ history hail from Japan’s ramen capital – Hakata – and is creating a stir all over the world. Besides 65 Ippudo restaurants in Japan, they have international stores in Hong Kong, Taiwan, Seoul, Sydney, Malaysia and China.

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We were invited to the Mandarin Gallery branch and the ambience is very typical buzzing Japanese restaurant. Loud greetings, semi-see-through kitchen, bowls and bowls of hot steaming ramen.

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Seating is limited to 57 seats with a small private VIP room. Be prepared to come early during lunch and dinner hours or simply come after peak hours.

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Vivien – PR & Marketing lady and our host for the evening – explained that besides ramen, IPPUDO aims to create a wholesome dining experience for its customers. As such, one will notice that it’s menu is more than simple ramen. They have an extensive menu comprising of salads, cold and hot appetizers, ala carte and meat dishes. Do order the appetizers as some were really good!

Ready, get set, Go!

Dining proper:

Beverages

Many of the fellow bloggers started with Choya & San Pellegrino Cocktail. I went with virgin ‘cos alcohol is still out-of-bounds at the moment…

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2nd drink of the night. Japanese’s favourite yogurt-y drink. I had it with soda to neutralise the sweetness. It’s refreshing!

Appetisers & Sides:

Goma Q – Fresh Japanese cucumber with a special sesame sauce. It’s a great cold appetizer to start with. The fragrant sesame sauce added spice to the otherwise plain crunchy cucumber. I like the presentation and the precision in cutting each slice into almost equal sizes. As usual, hats off to the Japanese culture of fine presentation.

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Pork Bun – Perhaps there can be a better name for this dish than what it’s called on the menu ( yes -“Pork Bun”).  This is an all-time favourite steamed bun with braised pork and special Ippudo’s sauce. It’s somewhat similar to our Chinese “Kong Bak Pau”. Taste-wise: it’s weirdly similar too! Honestly, I wouldn’t order this in a typical Japanese restaurant. But if you are curious about the soft bite of the pork and it’s unique sauce, it’s worth a try.

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Crispy Corn – I have no clue how this is done. It seemed deep-fried with a light batter to a crisp and sprinkled with some addictive paprika-herb-alike powder. One is probably not enough. I had two! (or was it three? I lost count).

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Spicy Shrimp Mayo – Big succulent prawns deep fried with a light batter and served exquisitely with a home-made spicy mayonnaise sauce. Home-run type of combination. What is there not to like about such a dish. Yummy!

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Beef Tataki – My favourite of the night. Pan –seared tender beef slices  served with a tangy sauce and special dip. Best eaten with the bed of non-pungent fresh onions. I went home dreaming of going back for this again.

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Finally – the stars of the night – RAMEN!

The founder – Shigemi Kawahara – spent time perfecting the tonkotsu (pork based) broth through the hard work of cooking pork bones for more than 15 hours. This arduous process coupled with blending of the broth resulted in a creamy and delicate soup. Fun trivia of the night – The noodles are actually manufactured in a factory in Singapore and the soup is also prepared by the central kitchen! This is to ensure that what diners get to eat are the freshest and not some imported overnight grub. You also get to choose the degree of the “hardness” of the noodles which you prefer. We choose “hard” as recommended because after our endless photo-taking, “soft” noodles would have become soggy! Vivien mentioned that it’s highly advisable to dig in immediately as the chef prepared each bowl separately and the consistency will change even if a customer visits the loo for 5 minutes!

First up: Shiromaru Motoaji – a white pork-based broth ramen. My preferred choice of the night. I like it straight forward; classic Hakata-style. Light broth without porky taste. Chashu is tender and cabbage is aplenty.

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Next up: Akamaru Shin-aji – a bolder red broth seasoned with garlic oil and Ippudo’s secret paste (Umami-dama). Decent choice if you are in the mood for an enhanced type of ramen.

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Last ramen dish – Karaka-Men. This is the original tonkotsu broth with spicy miso and ground pork. If I go in a group, I will get someone else to order this so I can get a spicy kick while maintaining my loyalty to the classic choice.

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The dining experience cannot be complete with a refreshing yuzu sherbet specially assembled by the chef for the bloggers’ event.

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This is a place that I think you won’t need to break the bank to dine here. Its’ comprehensive menu ensures that there will be something for everyone; even the picky eaters. Swing by to enjoy some oodles of hot noodles and a modern ramen brassière experience.

Thank you to Openrice and Ippudo for their kind invitation!

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Details

Ippudo SG

333A Orchard Road

#04-02/03/04 Mandarin Gallery

Singapore 238897

Open 7 days a week – 11am to 11pm (last order at 10pm)

Website: www.ippudo.com.sg

Facebook: www.facebook.com/ippudosg

29th April – 3rd Wedding Anniversary

According to traditional meanings – a 3rd year wedding anniversary is signified by “leather”. why leather? Not sure – nonetheless, leather products are one of Kim’s fav. “)

‘Cos I was nursing a flu, we decided to keep the celebration simple. Decided to go to East Coast Park to a small Japanese-fusion restaurant called Zen Cafe – Shindoart 

It is a small dimly lit restaurant which ain’t too eye catching. Believed we are the first customers for dinner; so had the whole restaurant to ourselves. Nice.

 

View of restaurant (in-door seating)
View of restaurant (in-door seating)
another view of restaurant interior (taken with night scene-this is more like the actual view)
another view of restaurant interior (taken with night scene-this is more like the actual view)

 

We decided to splurge a little since it is our wedding anniversary. So I took a value set comprising of

1) a starter – mango prawn fritter/roll

2) Oriental mushroom soup

3) Main course – Tempura fish & chips

4) Dessert – Zen Tiramisu

5) Drinks – I upgraded to a warm honey lemon ‘cos of my flu

Kim shared my meal and ordered another main course  – Kobe-style beef, a tom yum soup and a cold honey lemon.

The mango prawn roll is alright; passable – not amazing though. But for $3.80 (per serving), I am not complaining. The soups were great. Especially the oriental mushroom soup. It is mushroom-ish yet with a sweet aftertaste. Both soups are served piping hot – GREAT!

Main courses – Tempura fish and chips is an interesting alternative to the usual beer-battered fish. Tasted a little healthier though the tempura flour do require some getting used to due to its “tangy-ness”. I personally loved the side – vegetable salad. The mayo is really unique and not overly creamy for me. sweet with a tint of sourish taste. Nice.

As for Kim’s Kobe-style beef – I think it is a bit “over-the-top” with the presentation and a little under in terms of taste. Both beef and mashed potato is served a little cold for my liking. Kim thinks it is fine though – but we tasted the “real-kobe beef” before; and this is nowhere near the original taste. No marbled meat nor melt in your mouth feeling. But will give it credit for creativity and passable taste for a beef steak dish.

The highlight was the dessert – Served once again “over-the-top” but really pretty though a little cheesy (check out the chinese writings on the plate). I LOVED the tiramisu! It tasted so home-made and the chef got the portion of each ingredients just nice. Wished it was a bigger serving though!! Can safely say – one of the nicer tiramisu I ever tasted before! 🙂

Overall, an affordable place to come for some fusion-art-inspired-Japanese cuisine. I will return to try the raw stuff that I can’t eat now!! 😛

Total amount spent for 2 = just slightly less than S$70

 

Mango prawn roll (almost gone before I could take a pic!)
Mango prawn roll (almost gone before I could take a pic!)

 

 

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no..not beer (i wish! esp in this warm weather!) – just honey lemon (love the warm lighting though)
 
 
 
 
 
tom yum soup
tom yum soup

 

 

my piping hot mushroom soup
my piping hot mushroom soup

 

Kim's kobe-style beef siting on a bed of mashed potato (a piece of art!)
Kim’s kobe-style beef sitting on a bed of mashed potato (a piece of art!)

 

 

My main course - Tempura Fish & Chips (loved the side salad!)
My main course – Tempura Fish & Chips (loved the side salad!)

 

One of my fav for the night - DESSERT! For one who doesn't really have a sweet tooth - this won my heart. Zen-tirimisu presented once again as a piece of ART!
One of my fav for the night – DESSERT! For one who doesn’t really have a sweet tooth – this won my heart. Zen-tiramisu presented once again as a piece of ART!

 

And of course ... stars of the night. :)
And of course … stars of the night. 🙂

Tonkatsu Japanese Curry Rice

Yummy Yummy… One of my fav cuisine is Japanese food – almost any kind of Japanese food. So..naturally – I tried to test my cooking skills here. Decided to make Tonkatsu Japanese Curry Rice for dinner yesterday!

Actually this is not my first attempt in making Japanese curry. It is really easy ‘cos I used the pre-mix curry cubes from major supermarkets. Just prepare some carrots, potatoes and onions and add them to the curry cubes topped with water – Hey Pesto – You get yummy, fragrant  Japanese curry. Instructions can be found on most of the packing. After some trial and error, I found the nicest combo of ingredients. 🙂

Ok .. now – how to make Tonkatsu? – i.e. Deep Fried Chicken Chop. I followed a recipe I found online but modified it slightly. It turned out really crispy on the outside and chewy/soft on the inside. Prefect!! But that is after turning my whole kitchen into a big, gooey, oily mess! Deep frying really mess up your  kitchen especially if you don’t have a deep fryer. But of course, I married one good man who cleaned up the whole kitchen and house thereafter! 😀

Anyway, fruits of my labour – see pics below. Used my phone cam, so pics not that clear – but enough to whet my appetite. heee… 🙂

Tonkatsu Japanese Curry Rice - my portion
Tonkatsu Japanese Curry Rice – my portion
Hubby's portion - MORE!
Hubby’s portion – MORE!
some sauces which goes well with Tonkatsu - Jap Mayo or Special Jap Sesame Sauce
some sauces which go well with Tonkatsu – Jap Mayo or Special Jap Sesame Sauce

 

P.S:  if anyone wants the recipes, let me know – I can send you the soft copies. 🙂