Eastern Promises 12: Shockingly Good Ramen at Ippudo
Ippudo, at 93 Queensway, Admiralty, Hong Kong; call them at 2527 3526.
One of my first meals out in Hong Kong was at Ippudo, a hyper-popular and quickly expanding ramen chain. I tried the location at the LAB Concept, a mall next door to the building where my classes are held. This night, Eric, Melanie and I stopped by after class one evening prior to heading to our respective homes via the MTR.
After having some extremely good ramen back in Vancouver during its ramen renaissance of 2008-2010, I was dubious of this chain. And to be honest, I’ve always felt there is really only room for one East-Asian soup in my life (Pho, natch) and have never been over the moon about ramen generally.
Long story short (too late), Ippudo changed my view on both of the above notions and was the best ramen I’d ever tried up until a few weeks later when I had the legendary Butao. Who knew Hong Kong would do ramen so well?
I tried the shiromaru ramen, Ippudo’s signature, which is a deep and cloudy pork-based ramen. I opted to add the recommended toppings including seaweed, egg and pork slices. This combination rang in at $88 HKD or about $12 CAD, so not not cheap by any means but also not unsustainable as a dinner option. We also availed ourselves of their 2-for-1 beer promotion, which offered a bit more bang for the buck.
But as for the ramen, it was a nearly perfect harmony of rich pork flavor, salt and spice. The noodles, egg, pork and seaweed were similarly well-executed and served as excellent grace notes for the broth. I also greatly enjoyed the wide array of condiments including whole bulbs of garlic that could be pressed, via hand presses provided at each table, directly into the soup. Being something of a garlic-fiend I left the restaurant absolutely reeking, but also invulnerable to Hong Kong’s sizable vampire population. Interactivity – the joy in seeking the perfect combination of condiments and sauces – is one of the reasons I love pho, and the combinations possible at Ippudo are similarly exhilarating.
This is a rather simple tale. Ippudo, although a chain, has seemingly maintained an extremely high level of quality and its success is well deserved. I should add that although we showed up thirty minutes prior to closing (and nearly made it out before it shut its doors), the staff was friendly if a bit hesitant.