Walking around the East Village and St. Mark’s Place, I couldn’t help but notice the number of Japanese ramen shops posting up along the streets. I think it might have been 10th St, but one street was literally just ramen on ramen on ramen.
But I had been wanting to go Ippudo NY, a very famous Japanese ramen house, with a location in Seoul, South Korea as well. I had actually been on a diet a few years ago when I first went to Ippudo in Seoul (ironic that I used to diet – those were dark days, but I still have tips and tricks if you want to know!), so I was especially excited to go this time around.
I met up with a few of my friends there and was shocked (not in a bad way) by how loud and crowded it was. It appeared to be very trendy and happening. As soon as you walk in, there is a young bartender with a slick hairdo, flipping around glasses and different sorts of spices and alcohols, with a backdrop lined with Asian teacups and trinkets.
We were lucky because one of our friends knew one of the chefs, so we were able to snag a reservation. But otherwise, we would not have been able to get in that night.
Even with a reservation, we had to wait a bit, so we each ordered a delicious drink at the bar. All of the options were very interesting and untraditional. I ordered a mildly spicy drink with a tequila base. The bartender was literally pouring hot sauce into my drink.
We were soon seated in a corner towards the back. Lighting is dim, and the interior is very black and sleek. It’s a modern version of the very simple, zen-like Japanese style.
First, we ordered a nice bottle of fresh, crisp sake on the recommendation of our server. In terms of food, we ordered the famous Hirata Pork Buns, Shishito Peppers, flash-fried Japanese peppers with yuzu salt (the yuzu salt was super interesting and delicious), Hirata Fried Chicken, and two ramens. The most popular one is Akamaru Modern, and then we got a spicier one Kuro Tan Tan Men to balance out the mild Akamaru.
I personally like the spicier one better, but my other friend liked the Akamaru, so it’s a matter of preference. All the food was OUTSTANDING. Considering this is a Japanese ramen house, I ironically was more impressed with the appetizers, although the ramen was obviously very good.
Make sure to snatch the pork belly from the ramen though – it’s worth being a little selfish even if you’re with a group of people. The pork buns are also a must. Ch-ch-check it out!!