Speaking of noodles, I obviously wouldn’t visit Japan without eating in at least one ramen joint. The styles of ramen vary greatly, from simple shoyu ramen at Aoba, to the lighter yuzu shio ramen (also soy-based) at Afuri, to the hardcore thick sauce-like soup at Jiro (not to be confused with Sukiyabashi Jiro), which with its large dose of suspended pork fat is not for the faint-hearted. With time to visit only one we decided to go with the safe choice of Ippudo, a reputable chain specialising in Hakata-style Tonkotsu ramen from Kyushu. The tiny Roppongi branch was bustling when we arrived but turnover was swift and we were seated in a larger seating area down the back within 10 minutes.
Food arrived quickly too. Dinky bite-sized gyoza were fantastic – thin dumpling skin tender but with a slight chew and crisped to golden on the base encasing a delicious juicy pork filling. I’d happily pop these handmade beauties, a snip at ¥400 (£3) for ten, all day long.
Steamed Pork Bun on the other hand really wasn’t worth ordering – the thick slab of was pork was bland and dry, and the lone blob of mustard did little to help it along. Give this a miss and just order an extra helping of gyoza.
Ippudo offer a number of different ramen as well as few rice options (menu here). I went for the Akamaru Ramen (with an added soft boiled egg, naturally) – thin elastic noodles swimming in a rich tonkotsu pork bone broth glistening with pork fat and drizzled with black koyu (fragrant oil). Tasty and oh so satisfying.
B’s choice was Shiromaru, the classic Ippudo ramen (also pork-based), which was slightly richer in taste. You can order both the Akamura and Shiromaru as Specials which includes extra toppings of egg, wantan, kikurage (tree mushrooms) and beansprouts, in addition to the standard chashu, spring onions and seaweed. There’s also one topped with spicy miso (Ippudo Karaka), another with a shoyu chicken broth (Hakata Chuka) and the thicker udon-like Hakata Tsukumen, eaten dipped into a shellfish-enriched pork broth. If only I had the capacity to try them all.
Ippudo is reliable, solid choice for tonkotsu ramen and at an average of ¥800 (£6) a bowl, a real quality budget option. With it’s English menus and clean modern digs, it’s also probably one of the most foreigner-friendly.
Odagiri Building 1F
t. +81 (0)3 5775 7561