I hadn’t realized how much I missed ramen until I stepped into Ippudo last Sunday. Thankfully my brother Jason seemed to have been feeling the same, convincing the whole family that we should eat here for lunch.
Ippudo Ramen is my favourite ramen place here in Manila at the moment. They have only three regular ramen offerings— adding a fourth late last year if I remember correctly, the Gyokai Ramen— but all of them are pretty superb in their own right. My ordering patterns when I go to any ramen place rely solely on my mood for the day, but that’s especially true here since I’m confident I’ll be satisfied no matter which ramen I order.
I was a little late to the party when it came to Ippudo Manila. It took me a long time before I decided to eat here because when the brand opened its first restaurant in Manila, they had lines upon lines seemingly whatever time of the day. Not being a fan of lining up a long time to get my food I decided to wait it out.
Luckily this branch at Robinson’s Place Manila is like a hidden gem, because I’ve always managed to time my visits here right before the busy hour. Never had to line up, so yeah, this is my favourite branch for that reason. 😀
Going in I was prepared to order some Akamaru Tamago Ramen, still undecided between going for the Hard or the Very Hard noodles. But for whatever reason I ended up ordering one of their “newer” offerings. (It’s not included in the regular menu so I assumed. Just note it’s been a while since I’ve been here.)
The Spicy Tsukemen is served with a sheet of nori, poached egg, spring onions, and the spicy miso ground pork that they also use to top their Karaka-Men. The dish looks much simpler than most regular ramen so I wasn’t sure what to expect. I only noted that the noodles were a good size, and were cold as I ordered.
I mixed the noodles and the toppings all up and prepared to dip into the piping hot soup. The soup is thick enough that it coats every piece of noodle effectively.
A moment of suspense before taking the first bite.
My first thought was, Whoa those noodles! They are the right kind of fat and the right kind of chewy that I like! Normally the ramen noodles here at Ippudo are very thin, but these have a bigger body and therefore it’s a bit more “bouncy”, if you get what I mean.
The soup that comes with the noodles is Ippudo’s Hakata-style tonkotsu broth with added bonito flavour. On its own it’s a little saltier than the normal broth used for ramen, and I imagine they made it that way because there’s a lot more noodle to cover here. Actually, since the noodles themselves are already flavoured with the spicy karakamiso they cancel out the saltiness of the broth quite well.
I tried the noodles sans the broth for fun and I found that while it had some flavour, it lacked a certain oomph that can only be filled by the dipping soup. I didn’t find this dish that spicy either, even though the menu comes with a drawing of a chili. But be warned that I do like spicy food a good deal.
Another new (to me) offering they have is the Executive Set, which is what my Dad ordered. It comes with a glass of iced tea, and is made up of their Gyokai Ramen, which is the only ramen on Ippudo’s menu that has a chicken and tonkotsu combination broth. I remember liking this a lot when I tried it back when it was first launched and they were giving every table a complimentary bowl. Free ramen, you guys. Only in Ippudo!
The Executive Set also comes with the famous Ippudo Pork Bun, which is basically a steamed bun with a piece of juicy and fatty braised pork belly inside. There’s a piece of lettuce and some mayo-like sauce in there too.
The pork is so very tender, and it’s only in a ramen house that you’ll get me to eat some fatty pork. I do find it a bit expensive for such a small bun though.
My three brothers each ordered Karaka Tamago Ramen with Very Hard Noodles. This one is tonkotsu broth-based with some special spicy miso (infused with the ground pork) and a touch of garlic oil to give it a kick, but I would suggest adding some more minced garlic into the mix. Toppings include thin slices of pork belly, kikurage, spring onions, spicy miso ground pork, and an egg!
Looking at this picture makes me want to slurp up those thin, wavy, Very Hard noodles. I love it when my noodles have that bite, but I actually prefer the Hard noodles between the two.
Typically this would be my choice because I like spicy ramen. While my order was taking its time to come out there was this tiny twinge of jealousy as I watched my brothers eat their ramen with gusto. Even though the tsukemen was good, now that I’m writing about this meal I’m craving for the Akamaru all over again. Good thing Ippudo has a branch that’s close to where I live. 😛
After all the rich food we just consumed, we decided to have a bit of dessert. None other than Matcha Crème Brûlée of course! Crack through that layer of caramelised sugar to get to the silky green custard inside!
The flavour is very authentic as far as matcha goes, and I quite enjoyed this dessert! It’s not too sweet thanks to that earthy matcha flavour that permeates the whole of the pudding base. I’m not the biggest fan of the vanilla ice cream they put on top, though I appreciate txhe extra dusting of matcha powder.
This isn’t one of my “formal reviews”, and I suppose you might notice that with the lack of pricing for each dish. I just wanted to write about ramen because I haven’t done it in a long time.
Full disclosure: This post was not sponsored in any way. All opinions stated above are my own.