Ippudo is one of the copious new restaurants in town that I’ve been wanting to try. I’ve heard good things about the joint from LA and Singapore residents, and when the first Ippudo joint opened in Indonesia about 3-4 months ago, crowds were lining up at the storefront like swarms. How can you not be curious?
Now that the hype has died down, there wasn’t any more lines, and you don’t even have to reserve a seat (which is a normal thing in some of the most beloved ramen joints in Jakarta). So we finally try it out.
Stepping beyond the open door, my first thought was, “If this is a ramen joint, how come there are chandeliers?!” There are 2 opulent ones that hung across the center of its interiors. The seatings weren’t your usual dark woods and natural accents – they were real chairs and sofas wrapped with synthetic leathers like in most contemporary restaurants. The open kitchen stood along those gigantic chandeliers, and the background music played the most recent top-charters we love to love and hate. It’s a new ramen-dining experience for me.
Turns out Ippudo has already over 80 joints in Japan alone. It was only established 30 years ago, but has expanded worldwide and planted seeds in metropolitans such like Shanghai, Hong Kong, Seoul, Taipei, Sydney, Beijing, Bangkok, Sydney, London, and New York, just to name a few. Its founder, Shigemi Kawahara, has been dubbed as the Ramen King ever since Japan crowned him the title in 2005, mostly because he won the TV Tokyo Ramen Champion 3 times consecutively within the short span of 1997-2000. In short, he’s a huge deal in Japan.
As with most restaurant chains, the weak link lies in the mix bag of consistency, authenticity, and quality. Certainly the one in Jakarta can’t speak for the first Ippudo joint in Hakata, but let’s dive in, shall we?
We started off with the seared Salmon Roll with Mentaiko (IDR 78,000), topped with some fresh delicious cod roe.
It’s soft, light, and simply well-seasoned. I love that this sushi stays put as you pinch it with your chopsticks and bring it to your mouth – rice was cooked well and the remaining ingredients was vinegared well. You really don’t need to dip it into your soy and wasabi sauce, because by itself it’s drenched in soy sauce already. Add more to it and it’ll taste way too salty for anyone.
For his main dish, he ordered an a la carte menu, the chasu Tsukune Teppan (IDR 48,000), with a bowl of steamed rice (IDR 15,000). It’s brutal to eat “juicy minced pork with fried noodle bits topped with poached egg on a hot plate” in front of me, but he did.
Obviously I don’t know how the pork meat tasted, but I love the amount of care taken to perfect the egg’s consistency. I’m guessing the dried noodles on the bottom served as a complementary texture for the “juicy” pork, which my boyfriend said was just okay because there was too much ginger minced with it, and that he’s not a fan of ginger.
For my own main course, I chose this bowl from the Akamaru 赤丸ramen menu, a broth described as “IPPUDO’s original tonkotsu broth enhanced with special blended miso paste and fragrant garlic oil.”
The Aka Special (IDR 95,000) I had is served with salted soft-boiled egg, pork belly, and seaweed, and before you ask, of course I didn’t eat the pork belly. The only reason I chose this one was because it’s cheaper to have a complete set of ramen toppings this way than to order the toppings separately.
For every ramen bowl, you have the option to choose whether you want your noodles to be soft, normal, hard, or extra hard. I love squishy comfort food, so I chose the soft, but I’ve tasted softer noodles than this.
Even though this is a pork-based broth, I was still expecting it to be cloudier than this one – it tasted more oily than it is buttery. I’m guessing it’s heated only within a few hours, so everything doesn’t feel as blended as you’d expect. You can see how the consistency seems mostly translucent with uneven clouds of fat that hasn’t dissolved. While all the ingredients are tasty, it was a big disappointment that came from just a little misstep.
That’s not to say that I won’t give Ippudo another chance, because there are plenty of delicious-looking appetizers and a la carte items on the menu I would like to try next time.
Have you tried the famed pork buns and the signature Shiromaru ramen at Ippudo? How were they?
Pacific Place Mall
5th Floor, Unit 5.37
Jl. Jend. Sudirman Kav. 52-53
Jakarta Selatan 12190
+62 (0)21 5797 3339
Visit Facebook page at Ippudo Indonesia
Follow @IppudoIDN on Twitter
or @ippudoindonesia on Instagram
M – S 10:00am – 10:00pm