This is the first of a new series I’d like to call, “What I’m Eating Now” (WIEN).
Basically, WIEN posts will be short and sweet, highlighting what I ate for a particular meal that was outstandingly good or bad that day.
Today, I would like to feature a dish at one of my favourite guilty pleasure hangout after a long service at the restaurant: Ippudo.
Ippudo is a Japanese ramen restaurant chain, started in Fukuoka. Opened in 1985, the ramen shop has since transformed into a ramen empire that covers many of the metropolis of the world.
While hardcore ramen aficionados often scoff at Ippudo because they are kind of a commercial ramen factory, I appreciate Ippudo for their consistency and accessibility.
The Ippudo outlet I frequent in Shanghai is at the iAPM mall; 10 minutes walking distance from my restaurant, Hello Miss Dong, on Yong Kang Lu. I like that they open until 10pm or so, thus I often wind up there at 9+ pm after a busy dinner service.
Ramen is a very subjective type of noodle, and different types appeal to different people. For me, I like the simplicity of a good Shoyu ramen, which is a soy-sauce based soup, often cooked on a bonito or kelp base. People who prefer less MSG would might go for the classic Tonkotsu, a pork bone based broth.
The Ippudo Special Shoyu Ramen (58rmb)
The special bowl comes with two types of Char Shiu, rectangular pork belly slices and the classic rolled pork belly char shiu. The normal version of the ramen only comes with the regular pork belly slices. Both taste practically the same to me, with the only difference being their shape and size. That said, the char shiu is always melt-in-the-mouth tender, albeit sometimes served cold.
One of the defining reasons why I like Tokyo-style Shoyu Ramen, is because of the thick curly egg noodles. This, again, is a matter of personal preference, but for me, I really like the toothy thicker egg noodles. I’ve tried the ones in Tokyo, and the noodles had a superb fragrance, which sadly is not found in the ramen I’ve had elsewhere.
Aside from the Char Siu, the usual condiments for Shoyu ramen are bamboo shoots, a slice of fishcake, seaweed and a perfectly cooked egg. In Ippudo’s case, half and egg, and a bundle of spinach is provided.
The soup is salty, and MSG-laden, which gives this place the notorious guilty pleasure title. That said, a bowl, once in awhile wouldn’t hurt .. surely…
Fried Squid Tentacles (28rmb)
The other item I enjoy a lot at Ippudo are their deep-fried squid tentacles. The tentacles are battered and fried to a crisp, while the squid is not dried out. Not many places do this well these days, and not many places have the lovely squid flavour still present in the dish.
At 28rmb, this is a great bargain, and a superb alternative to McDonalds fries/nuggets.
Ippudo is my favourite go-to spot for a good bowl of ramen, because they are located in most of the central areas with a big mall. The food is consistent because they have the workings of the kitchen standardised down to the grams per second. No doubt, it is NOT the healthiest food to indulge in every day, but surely, is a (slightly) healthier alternative to my old guilty pleasure, McDonalds.