Ippudo @ Mandarin Gallery
We’d read about this place from several newspaper and website reviews. While looking for a new place to eat at Orchard, we thought, why not give Ippudo a try. It took a while for us to find the restaurant but thankfully, there wasn’t a queue. Guess the dinner crowd hasn’t hit yet. 🙂
Ippudo is one of the several ramen joints that had landed in Singapore over the last year or so. With its roots from Hakata Fukuoka, the ramen dishes served were concocted by its founder Kawahara-san, more popularly known as the “Ramen King”. Now that’s a big hat to wear.
Since this is our first visit, we decided to go for some of their “basics”. Shiromaru Motoaji Ramen, which has a pale cream totkotsu soup base with Hakata-styled thin ramen noodles. Toppings include 2 slices of char siu, cabbage, kikurage (black fungus) and a dash of pickled ginger. The typical leek (negi) was replaced with a more familiar garnish to locals, spring onions.
Despite its oily presentation, the soup was quite light and reminds of chicken broth (despite being a tonkotsu soup stock!?). Refreshing yes, but no major “fwah!” surprises here. Itis reminiscent of Chicken soup ramen 鸡汤拉面 at Crystal Jade La Mien and Xiao long Bao outlets. The char siu, as usual, could have been more generous.
Akamaru Kanaseaji Ramen, which is miso paste-based soup with garlic oil (the reddish tinge in the middle?) and black sesame oil (mayu, the black tinge near the back?), topped with buta bara (fatty pork belly), spring onions and kikurage.
This scored better than its Shiromaru counterpart. The soup was more full-bodied and rich, perhaps owing to the garlic oil. Curious were the slices of pork belly, which seem to have their “bottom” parts sliced off. Otherwise, this miso-based soup was more enjoyable than the tonkotsu one. But alas, no major surprise element here as well. Perhaps the expectations we held were a tad too high, given the publicity and reviews we’d read.
As side orders, we decided to try their rice bowl dishes( mini donburi). A mini unagi don, the size of a chinese rice bowl with three generous slices of kabayaki-grilled freshwater eel and shreds of pan-fried egg as well as a sheet of toasted nori (seaweed). The unagi was quite delicious but more so is the sauce drizzled over the slices of eel. Most kabayaki sauce for unagi is too sweet to our liking and the one at Ippudo, presumably their own concoction is more savoury, making it more “appetite-uplifting”. The only teeny drawback about the unagi don was it was already cold when it was served. Though this is not a issue for us, we reckon most would prefer it warm.
In many smaller and "more local" ramen joints, diners can opt for a bowl of rice to go with their ramen. The “yasashi” ramen-ten operators had thought that a bowl of ramen would probably be insufficient to fill the rumbling stomachs of growing teenagers and working adults and served a complimentary bowl of rice, especially for those joints which are frequently patronised by college students.
Mentaiko don, a scoop of spicy cod roe with the same egg and seaweed. The spicy cod (some say pollock) roe 辛子明太子, “karashi mentaiko” is a delicacy from the hometown where Ippudo first started, Hakata in Fukuoka. It is prepared by soaking the roe sacks in a cocktail of chilli, japanese rice wine, konbu (kelp) and yuzu citrus, then letting it ferment lightly for several hours, thus allowing the flavours to diffuse and develop into the roe within the membrane casing.
This is very refreshing and robust. The spiciness and tangy sensation from the yuzu is much welcomed, breaking the monotony of the dishes and a good way to kill off any grease and oils on the palate from the buta bara.
Overall, a rather pleasant dining experience. The ambience is chic and modern, unlike typical ramen-ten. There are tables big and small to entertain couples, small families, up to large groups of 10. Those who prefer to catch the ramen action can choose counter seats in a pseudo-izakaya setting.
Ippudo @ Mandarin Gallery
333A Orchard Road
Mondays to Saturdays
Last order at 10pm
(Last order at 9pm )