04 December 2012

Ippudo: Japanese Ramen, Westfield Sydney (3 Dec 2012)

Westfield Sydney, Level 5, Shop 5021, 188 Pitt St, Sydney NSW 2000

Ramen empire comes to Sydney

As I enter Ippudo's latest franchise that opened this week in Sydney my presence is announced with an enthusiastic chorus of 'Irrashaimase' (welcome) from all the service staff like being presented like royalty arriving at a ball. There's no inconspicuous entrances in this place. Quite fun although hearing it over and over again throughout your dining experience leaves little moments of quiet and calm. Ippudo gyoza ($6, 5 pieces) were flavoursome little parcels. Little being the operative word. Thin skins are nicely cooked with a slight outer crisp while retaining some juiciness inside. Pity they're nearly half the size you'd hope them to be but I'd happily have them again. The Ippudo pork bun ($4) could possibly be a contender to the famed Momofuku steamed pork bun. A tasty morsel of tender braised pork, crunchy iceberg lettuce and japanese mayo on a pillow soft steamed bun. An enjoyable snack you won't want to share while you wait for your ramen soup.

A bowl of ramen starts at $15 but I upgrade to the Shiromaru Motoaji Tamago ($17) which includes a flavoured egg. I like its depth of flavour, tender slices of pork and crunchy texture of black mushroom. I have my thin noodles cooked 'normal' retaining a pleasant bite. Other options were soft, hard and extra hard. It's a premium price compared to other ramen around town but perhaps the quality, decor and service will justify the price for some. I do prefer the broth over the really thick Gumshara ramen which I find way too heavy for my personal liking. The Akamaru Shinaji ($16) also comes with the original tonkotsu broth but enhanced with a special blended miso paste and fragrant garlic oil providing an extra hit of flavour. This might be Japan's answer to the Malaysian laksa. Staff were very friendly, helpful and efficient although asking four different waiters for the bill highlighted a hiccup in the system which hopefully will be ironed out in time. We also received someone else's paid bill and their tip by accident. The perils of sitting at a large communal dining table I guess. Leaving to a chorus of 'Arigatou gozaimasu' (thank you very much) reminds me of my brief Japanese getaway and starts me thinking of what I might order on my next visit.

PROS: Nice decor, Friendly and helpful staff, Quality ingredients, Buzzing atmosphere, Efficient kitchen turnaround, Different options for seating available, Comfortable place to  dine by yourself
CONS: Premium price for ramen compared to others around town, Gyoza are very small, Teething problem with asking for the bill four times from four different waiters but hopefully this will be ironed out
WORTH TRYING: Pork bun and Akamaru Shinaji
VERDICT: A nice looking restaurant serving decent ramen at a premium price served by a small army of friendly staff that greet and farewell you in Japanese
Table condiments lined up like a kitchenware display

Ippudo pork bun - steamed bun with braised pork and Ippudo original sauce ($4) 

Ippudo gyoza: Hakata-style pan-fried dumplings ($6, 5 pieces)

Hey there my little friend

Shiromaru Motoaji Tamago: Ippudo original tonkotsu broth served with thin noodles, pork loin, cabbage, black mushroom & shallots with flavoured egg ($17)

Akamaru Shinaji: Ippudo original tonkotsu broth enhanced with special blended miso paste and fragrant garlic oil. Served with thin noodles, pork belly, black mushroom & shallots ($16)

Flavoured egg — firm white and slightly soft yolk

Thin noodles cooked 'normal' just right for me

Bowls are quite tall and funnel shaped which can make it a little awkward to eat out of compared to a lower more rounded bowl

Spooning the soup from the bottom of a funnel shaped bowl has its challenges, especially when you get to the end

Pickled radish goes very well with the ramen for extra flavour pop although ours arrived 5 minutes after we received our soups which might have been an oversight

Bill $43 for two


Lots of service staff. If you stand in one spot too long (taking photos) you'll be sure to hear 'excuse me' a few times as they whizz around you.

Communal table

Interesting wall feature and nice decor

Shelf decor feature very cool

View Larger Map
Ippudo on Urbanspoon


OohLookBel said...

Nice. We can never have too many good Japanese restaurants. Thanks for the heads up.

Sherrie @ Crystal Noir said...

Ooh, those pork buns look amazing. I've definitely got to go try this! Especially since I haven't been able to try the fame Momofuku ones yet (: Well spotted indeed!

Miss Piggy said...

That is a VERY tiny gyoza for sure! Looks tasty though.

Wendy said...

oh wow thanks for the post, i love ramen, my friend went today and she said the portion was kinda small but taste good! There should be more ramen in town for us to choose!

Unknown said...

Ahhh the opening of the next popular ramen joint. Sadly I am not the biggest fan of a real man's ramen, I can't hack the broth. The gyoza's look good though!

Prick With a Fork said...

A "decent" ramen? You're a hard man to please!

Anonymous said...

does anybody here realise that it costs about 12$ for the same ramen in Hong kong?

Anonymous said...

Yes but we're not in Hong Kong so your point is irrelevant

The Eat Beat said...

Just got back from a very satisfying lunch at Ippodu Sydney. The steamed pork buns are a real hit. Deliciously grilled pork belly, soft steamed, sweet bun and cruncy iceberg lettuce. How can you beat it!

The ramen was very good, but getting to the end of the bowl the broth was becoming quite heavy.

Beautiful setting and very attentive service.

milkteaxx said...

this place looks good! i shall find some time and try this place! thx for the awesome review!

ping said...

hi, can you tell me where you get food event information? like newly opened restaurant or food blog gathering??
thanks for your reply. : )

Simon Leong said...

hi bel, hope you get to try some time

hi sherrie, i've had the momofuku ones in NYC but i think i might have to try again in sydney

hi miss piggy, the smallest gyoza i've ever had before that's for sure. thankfully they were very nice.

hi wendy, i thought the portion size was just right for me. i probably could have had a bit more but it was very nice.

hi food is our religion, i can't handle the really thick style as well. this one was enjoyable for me.

hi prick with a fork, a very hard man to please. but decent does mean good in my books. perhaps i should say a very decent ramen :-)

hi anonymous, you do realise hong kong is a bit far to go for lunch ;-) and there are also cheaper bowls of ramen in sydney

hi the eat beat, glad you enjoyed your visit.

hi milkteaxx, all the best with your ramen visit. hope you enjoy.

hi ping, following other food blogs is a good way to find out on new restaurants. in terms of food events that usually comes from PR companies contacting me directly.

Simon Food Favourites Map

View Simon Food Favourites in a larger map Key: BLUE - Location visit and review PINK - Simon Favourites and places offering something special

Small Bars in Sydney map

View Small Bars in Sydney in a larger map