Over the 2011 Christmas holiday season my sister insisted I join her at Ippudo Singapore (in Mandarin Gallery) for a meal. Knowing very little about Ippudo or Ramen, I agreed. We rocked up at 7.30ish and the line was epic, as in it wound around half the level and practically backed onto the escalator. Too hungry and impatient we decided to take our chances elsewhere.
Take two. This time we drag along our brother and planned to get there early to avoid the wait. We arrived just before 6pm and the line surrounds the 'waiting table' in the restaurant, but doesn't extend throughout the shopping centre - thank goodness! And as each group is seated the Ippudo staff cheer.
It's not long before we're seated at a bench facing the chefs, giving us an opportunity to see all the activity in the kitchen. We order Edamame, Goma Q, Ippudo pork bun, Ippudo shrimp bun, Ippudo organic salad, Akamaru kasaneaji and Ippudo original gyoza.
It was delicious! Having mostly experienced Japanese cuisine that involves raw fish or fancy knife skills, this was an entirely new experience for me.
Firstly, Edamame and Kirin beer. This is my ideal version of 'beer and nuts'. Well it doesn't have to be Kirin, but I'd definitely replace nuts with edamame. Not only is it a healthier alternative, it is also fun popping the beans out of the pod. (Yes, simple things excite me.)
The Goma Q was nice, but nothing to get excited about. I like cucumber and I like sesame seeds, so I like Goma Q. But it didn't frenzy the taste buds or open the mind.
Ippudo buns taste 'a little bit naughty' and are probably not ideal for anyone on a diet. But they are so flavoursome that you'll want more (which we did). While buns were tasty, the shrimp bun easily outshone the pork bun. The fluffy bun, Japanese mayonnaise, lettuce and lightly battered shrimp seemed to be the better combination on the day.
The salad was... a bit different. Not being a fan of tofu, I focused on the broccoli, tomato, avocado and leaves. It is the sauce (no idea what is in it other than some chilli), however, that made the salad noteworthy. The crispy bits on top added some nice texture too.
The gyoza was good, as expected. Perfect little dumplings with a complimentary chilli infused sauce.
My favourite dish of the evening was the Akamaru kasaneaji ramen. A delicious combination of noodles, pork belly, broth, garlic oil and miso paste. We ordered our noodles 'medium' and they were cooked to perfection. Even my brother, who insisted that he wasn't hungry, managed to scoff down a small bowl.
When we'd finished all these wonderful dishes, we were completely satisfied. It was a delightful combination of flavours, textures and smells.
As the dishes were swiftly removed I thought to myself 'I must find a great ramen place in Melbourne'.
Nearly a year later and I have tried a few ramen places, but none have been as good as Ippudo. Luckily, I'm going to Japan in January, so I'm sure I will eat many an amazing ramen dish there!
Name: Ippudo Singapore
Location: #04-02/03/04, 333A Orchard Road, Singapore