How can we take a trip in Japan without eating the ramen? I thought so. I had to eat ramen/noodles at least once if not twice when in Japan.
Ippudo Ramen Shop, I vote the place with the best ramen soup base and best free side dishes EVER! I had the pleasure to eat it this time in Matsumoto city of Japan (They have shops everywhere in Japan).
Ippudo was opened in 1985, started out as a small mom and pop ramen place with only mere 10 seats available in the shop. The place was famous for two things. 1. The tonkatsu (porkchop) soup base. and 2. the awesome, classy interior design along with jazz music playing in the background. (That is what they said in the English website for their New York Ippudo Ramen….Read More)
When I first went into the ramen place, I definitely loved the interior design. Unlike other ramen places that are old, dustry, and sometimes do not have air condition on, this one has the modern classic Japanese feel to the design, with full on blast A/C, and huge straw bags offered for you to place your handbags or backpacks in so your stuff will not get dirty. Unfortunately it was not Jazz music playing in the background, instead it was old American music and British rock that day.
Unlike most ramen places that made you order first at the ticket machine then hand it to the cook, this one I went properly seated us, gave us menus and took our orders in person. I chose the 2nd one on the top from the left because it looks interesting with the black sesame sauce in the soup.
Before we eat, thats talk about eating etiquette again (it is short, don’t worry). This time it is ramen/fast food restaurant etiquette. When eating in ramen places in Japan, you will notice loud, lusty, juicy slurping noises coming from…..everyone. Slurping loudly may be annoying and inappropriate in western society, but in Japan, the louder you slurp, it means the better the food is (and slurping also helps to cool the food down). If you do not slurp, people with you will ask you what is wrong with the food, and sometimes the chef will have a stressful on his/or her face. So, please practice slurping on noodles/ or spaghetti before coming to Japan XD. Another thing I want to point out is, because most of the ramen places are tiny, don’t look around at other people. It is rude to look/stare at other people, even though you might be tempted to see what others ordered.
Okay, now we can eat the food~
I have to talk about free side dishes of Ippudo Ramen shop. Usually at ramen places they offer free kimchi, garlic, or onions. This place offered: Free garlic, onions, and bean sprouts!!! The bean sprouts are spicy, but they are fresh, crisp, and blend so well with tea and with the noodles. We ate about 4-5 plates each person ~ a must try!
When the ramen came, I was so excited as the smell of the pork chop soup and onions hits me. The feeling of warmth, satisfaction, and relaxation just ran through my body, and I knew I was in for a good meal. Another way to express this is that it feels like after hiking through the mountain with rough typhoon hitting on you for days, and you finally reach a house with clean clothes and hot bath waiting for you. (Hope I did not lose anyone yet).
The soup is perfect! A lot of times people complained that the ramen soup base is too salty in Japan, this one I feel that it is full of flavor but not bad to the point that I have to drink lots of water.
Japanese love eating ramen with other stuff like: gyoza, fried rice, white rice or more plain noodles. While I am not a fan for more carb when I already have ramen noodles, I cannot resist the gyoza. They are tiny, yet juicy.
When you are in Japan next time, why not go to a ramen shop like Ippudo and try slurping loudly once? ^_^ I assure you the experience and the food will satisfy your hunter for Japanese culture and cuisine.
Ippudo restaurants in Tokyo (please copy and past into Google Map and find directions from the train station):
Shibuya: 〒150-0012 東京都渋谷区広尾1-3-13 ハイネス
Shinjuku: 〒169-0051 東京都新宿区西早稲田2-15-7
Ginza: 〒104-0061 東京都中央区銀座3-11-14 第一中山ビルB1
For More Information for Ippudo in Japan, please visit their website at: http://www.ippudo.com/top.html