New to Melbourne last year was ramen giant Ippudo and I for one think it’s high time for some more ramen competition in this city. The initial crazy queues for the place might have dissipated but it’s a pretty tasty experience that ranks there with Hakata Gensuke and Shujinko. Of the three it seems to have least wait too. And that’s because it is a massive restaurant which may also be one of its undoings.
First things first, Ippudo is a ramen chain heavyweight with stores in thirteen countries. In Australia it’s seven branches with this store in Artemis Lane/ QV being the first for Victoria. So far on first glance it seems to be doing well with a full restaurant on a weeknight.
I’m not a fan of Ippudo’s kind of shared table seating arrangement. It’s the not the same intimacy as over at minuscule eatery Hakata or actually, any Japanese ramen type place for that matter. It’s got a modern look that feels a bit too clinical. As much as I loved my first Ippudo experience there is always the lingering feeling that it is just clinical – processes identical to the hundreds of other stores, same recipes, same experience.
Ramen options at Ippudo are about $15-$20 which I suppose is closer to the norm and it’s a good size bowl. The menu reads a bit different than the usual, I went for the tonkotsu: “Akamaru Shinaji:. I went for hard noodles and this is also their default recommended option. My eating partner went for one of the specials. I can’t remember the description but heard something about bonita.
Yah! I liked this ramen a lot. The garlic oil was good, I gave it a good heaping of sesame. Broth was flavourful and complex, I can confirm every drop was consumed. In a weird way, I wouldn’t quite recommended ordering the side dishes at Ippudo if you’re in a hurry. The tables next to us both did so and ended up having to wait quite a while for their noodles. They weren’t fast here at Ippudo, at least on this evening.
Also – I’m not a fan of Ippudo’s weird policies such as “minimum one order per person” and no splitting payments. So I liked the actual ramen dish a lot and would come back but the vibe was the only thing a bit more off-putting. I’ll keep an eye out and see how round two goes but so far: