Ippudo NYC: A Noodle Bar in the East Village
If you missed the great East Village Manhattan Ramen Wars of the late aught years, well… you were probably doing something more important than eating hot noodles every night. But you should know that the battles were epic, as noodle bar after noodle bar would open, challenging and knocking down the old stalwarts, a new "best ramen in town" crowned so often it made your head spin. Then the cultishly adored Japanese heavyweight Ippudo NYC came to town, opening its wooden-planked doors on a previously dreary stretch of Fourth Avenue in New York City, and the game was over.
Sure, you can eat an excellent bowl of ramen at Momofuku Noodle Bar in NYC (the pork, both belly and shoulder, submerged herein, is still the class of the city), and some decent late-night slurping can always be had at any of the Ramen Setagayas in the area (they throw in a sublime "salt taste egg"). But if you're craving a big, steaming bowl of truly transcendent ramen, Ippudo NYC is the only way to go. The noodles at Ippudo NYC are perfect every time–chewy, with snap, and a rich eggy taste–but it's the tonkotsu broth that lifts a bowl of Ippudo ramen above all the rest. Seriously, the depth of this porky, smoky, fatty liquid is astounding. We usually get the Shiromaru Hakata Classic, which comes with pork, hard boiled egg, pickled ginger and, of course, plenty of noodles, but we've tried them all at this New York City noodle bar–the Akamura Modern (with garlicky "special sauce"), the Shoyu Ramen (with soy), the Kogashi Miso (with miso)–and have never been anything less than head-over-heels.
There's lots more on the Ippudo NYC menu, too, though it tends to be slightly hit or miss. Our lesson learned? The more traditional, and simpler, a dish sounds, the better it's likely to be. Thus the Hirata Chicken Wings with black pepper sauce, the Steamed Buns with pork, the deep fried Agedashi Tofu? All good. The octopus, shrimp and yam in a plum ponzu jellied layer sauce? Less so. The room itself is bigger than you expect and a total party, from the always-packed Ippudo NYC bar area up front (the prime-time wait for a table is at least an hour) to the communal tables and banquettes in the highly-designed, wrap around dining room(s) in the back. The music is loud, the crowd is young, the kitchen is open, and the team of chefs celebrate your entrance with a boisterous group greeting in Japanese. Corny, sure, but it always makes us feel welcome.
Ippudo NYC Details
Ippudo NYC is located on Fourth Avenue between 9th and 10th Streets in the East Village. Ippudo NYC hours are 11:00 a.m. until 12:00 midnight, Monday through Friday; until 1:00 a.m. on Saturday, and until 11:00 p.m. on Sunday. To view the menu, visit the Ippudo NYC website.