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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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…
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.
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.
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).
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
The dining experience cannot be complete with a refreshing yuzu sherbet specially assembled by the chef for the bloggers’ event.
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!
333A Orchard Road
#04-02/03/04 Mandarin Gallery
Open 7 days a week – 11am to 11pm (last order at 10pm)