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I am not your typical ramen/udon fresser. To me, ramen/udon is comfort food – noodles in soup. But, when you are in Tokyo and you see a line of hungry, indulgent Tokyoites outside a ramen joint called Ippudo, you know it is probably good. And, if you join the line and the smells confirm your instincts, I would recommend that you keep your spot. Once you get to the front of the line and your ears pick up a chorus of slurps, because you are in Japan and it is OK to slurp the noodles – it is the only way to eat the darn things anyway – you know you picked well.

Ippudo’s Winning Formula

I think that the winning formula for Ippudo is comprised of thin, yet firm, straight noodles that retain their bite even after being soaked in broth for some time, creamy yet not too heavy or oily pork broth, and a very clean and minimalist presentation.

Ippudo was first opened in Hakata on the island of Kyushu in 1985. It is owned by Shigemi Kawahara, three-time winner of the TV show Champion Ramen Chef. Ippudo is one of the most famous ramen chains in Japan with many branches spread out all over the world.

Ippudo serves tonkotsu broth which originated in Hakata. The broth is made from pork bones simmered in a special cauldron for 18 hours and then cooled down for a whole day. The result is creamy, silky and flavorful broth nearly white in color.

The rich broth blends perfectly with their noodles which are chewy with a firm texture.

Ippudo in Ginza

Ippudo in glitzy Ginza is my favorite location. It is cozy and clean.
The address is 4-10-3 Ginza, Chuo Ward, Tokyo. It is about a 1-minute walk from West Ginza Station Exit A8 on the Toei Asakusa Line.
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In order to find it you need to look for the Ippudo sign in Japanese and a 4-foot-long paper lantern hanging outside the door.

 

Ippudo

Ippudo

Hours : Mon.-Thurs.: 11:00am-2:00am, Fri./Sat./Day before a holiday: 11:00am-3:00am, Sun./Holiday: 11:00am-1:00am
Credit Cards are accepted.
Staff is attentive, and service is quick.

 

Menu at Ippudo

The menu is in both Japanese and English with pictures.

Ippudo serves up their tonkotsu with ramen in three variations:

Shiromaru Classic and Special

Shiromaru Classic / 790 Yen. The ingredients include tonkotsu broth, noodles, pork belly, bean sprouts, black fungus and spring onions.

They also serve Shiromaru Special / 1,020 Yen which is a version of Shiromaru Classic and includes a boiled egg and a sheet of nori.

Ippudo

Akamaru Modern and Special

Akamaru Modern / 850 Yen consist of tonkotsu broth enhanced with special blended miso paste and garlic oil, noodles, pork belly, bean sprouts, black fungus and spring onions.

And, Akamaru Modern Special / 1,080 Yen which is the same as Akamaru Modern and includes a boiled and a sheet of nori.

Ippudo

Ippudo Karaka Ramen

Ippudo Karaka Ramen / 890 Yen consists of tonkotsu broth, spicy minced meat miso, spring onions, and minced pork.

Ippudo

You also have the option to doctor up your bowl of noodles with an assortment of piquant all-you-can-eat toppings, including spicy moyashi (bean sprouts), crushed ninniku (garlic), karashi takana (spicy pickled greens) and shoga (pickled ginger).

If you are still hungry, order kaedama or rice. Kaedama is another serving of noodles, which is great if you finish your noodles before your broth. Kaedama is only 130 Yen and rice – Mentaiko Gohan – is 300 Yen. And, if you are really hungry go for Hakata Chikara Meshi / 360 Yen which is rice with extra slices of pork belly.

Ippudo

Ippudo

Gyoza

The best for last! Ippudo serves a mean Hakata Gyoza. They are crunchy, bite-size, crispy outside and juicy inside, with the most delicious filling. They are 420 Yen.

Ippudo

Ippudo is my benchmark for all other ramen I ate in Japan.
Head to Ippudo, conveniently scattered around Tokyo and Japan for a truly mouthwatering experience. Here is a link to Ippudo’s website (English version) if you need to look up their locations: Locations

If you are planning a trip to Japan check out my recent blog post on free offline map apps: Japan – Free Offline Map Apps with GPS Navigator for iPhone

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