After all the hype we’ve heard about this place we finally had to come check it out for ourselves. On any given day or night you’ll see a crowd of people scattered in front of one place on 4th Ave and that place is Ippudo. No matter if you go at 1 PM on a Monday or 8 PM on a Saturday you’ll still be subjected to at least a 20 minute wait in the restaurant’s bar area before you are able to get seated. The restaurant itself is simply designed but is quite small which is usually why there’s a wait. The front bar is decorated with ramen bowls and the back has three communal tables, about three or four booths for bigger groups and a bit more seating towards the back area. The large tree like bamboo structure was a nice touch and we did enjoy the open kitchen. But what needs to stop is the constant yelling by the staff. When it’s only for hello and good-bye that’s one thing but we’re pretty sure the serves don’t need to yell every time they deliver a dish to their table. On a more positive note, the service is quite friendly and they don’t try and rush you out of the place despite how long the line is outside.
The menu consists of ramen soups and hot items but if you’re trying Ippudo out for the first time you kind of have to get ramen. We decided to go for the Shiromaru Hakata Classic and see how we like it from there and possibly order more. This ramen comes with ramen noodles topped with pork loin chashu, kikurage mushrooms, menma, pickeled ginger and scallions. After enjoying Momofuku‘s ramen we were excited to see what Ippudo had in store for us. The broth itself kind of looked like coffee with a lot of water but we did enjoy the flavor if the noodles with the broth. What disappointing us the most was the dry texture of the pork which we assumed was also used to sand down those bamboo shoots to make that wooden structure inside of the restaurant. The Menma (fermented bamboo shoots) were actually a nice touch to the dish and the ramen itself was cooked well.
We did like the ramen at Ippudo but we don’t think it’s worth waiting anything over 10 minutes. Luckily today we were seated immediately but if there were a wait we would have easily went somewhere else. It is a fun place to eat and to show friends from out of town who have heard so much about Ippudo, but don’t spend close to a hour waiting for this. It’s simply not worth the wait.