Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Ippudo Singapore @ Mandarin Gallery - Part 2

Finally managed to find time to visit the new ramen on the block, Ippudo Singapore @ Mandarin Gallery.
Arrived at 840pm, and as expected, there was a pretty long queue.

really good business, huh?

After waiting for about 20 minutes, I managed to step into the store.

But interestingly, thats not it!

There is a bar counter area where the customers are asked to wait some more, with a queue forming around that table. However, we can start looking at the menu and even order drinks and two types of finger food (Ippudo Bun and Lotus Root Chips) while waiting for a seat.

Quite a brilliant idea! I thought.
A way to encourage spending while the customers are waiting.
But none of the customers bought into the idea, and patiently waiting for our seat.

For me, I took the time to take some pictures of how the interior look like.
The restaurant has 2 areas, a counter area facing the chefs, and a table area.

... and table section

The interior is done up in a posh way, with dark walls, a big chandelier in the middle, and bowls arranged artistically on the wall.

With my wife, we ordered the Shiromaru and Akamaru ramen with egg (S$17 each), plus a Gyoza.

... but we are told that their they have sold out their gyoza.
However, they have this dish call the Gyoza-nia (rhyming with Lasagne), which is gyoza baked with cheese. Its a whopping S$10, but I thought that I should try since I've queued up for so long.

Gyoza-nia. Can you see the gyoza?

Must admit that the portion is a bit small. I'm virtually paying $2.5 per Gyoza.
The taste is ok, but for the price...

Next came the main dish of ramen ... but we were told that they ran out of egg!
Their business must be so good.
I'll have to come again to see the standard of their egg.

Akamaru-Kasaneaji 赤丸かさね味

Made with pork bone soup and topped with 2 pcs of pork belly char siew, flavored oil, black fungus and spring onion. There is a ball of miso in the middle that you can mix into the soup to adjust the level of saltiness you want.

Shiromaru-Motoaji 白丸元味

Moving on to Shiromaru, which is the original-style Hakata ramen. Pork bone soup, with pork loin char siew, spring onion, cabbage and black fungus.

Not sure if you've noticed something...

That Ippudo uses 2 types of char siew for the 2 types of noodles!

The more fatty pork belly is used for the strong Akamaru, and the more lean pork loin for the Shiromaru which is more mild.
It is quite rare that a shop is particular to the level that they will prepare 2 types of char siew. I am impressed by the effort put in by them.
The char siew itself is reasonably good. I prefer the pork belly ones.

The noodles used were the proper narrow noodles meant for Hakata-style ramen. This is more "right" and I like this more than the normal noodles used for other stores that sells kyushu ramen (e.g. Yoshimaru, Tanpopo).

Although I couldn't get my gyoza and tamago, all in all my experience was quite pleasant.
The staff were courteous and well-trained in the Japanese way... and many of them somehow can speak Japanese quite fluently. The decor is pleasant and comfortable. The ramen is decent too. If you like the authentic Hakata ramen, this might be the only place that offers it.

The only grumble that I might have is the price. With a ramen with egg, which is actually the normal serving in other stores, costing S$17, it is about 20% more expansive than other good stores like Miharu. The $2.5 per gyoza is a bit steep too. The presentation of the noodle can do better too.

Will still return to try the other dishes that they have. But perhaps not so frequently, and might concentrate just ordering the ramen.

View Ramen Walker's Ramen Map in a larger map

Ramen Data - Ippudo Singapore @ Mandarin Gallery
Address: 333A Orchard Road, #04-02/03/04 Mandarin Gallery
Types: Hakata Ramen (Tonkotsu)
Price: S$14-17
Rating: 8/10

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