After a long wait, I finally decided to join the queue at Mandarin Gallery to see what the Ippudo fuss is all about. One Monday night, 20 people in line, and a 25-minute wait.
A little caution: While you think the line outside is the only queue, there is one more inside where customers wait very patiently around a table. To kill time, some customers can then decide their orders with the menus lying around.
Many waiting customers whipped out cameras big and small for their blog moments, and the interior of Ippudo is quite worth picture-taking. It has a stylish fusion décor with bowls and utensils of red, white and black bringing out its signature colours.
A little history on why all the fuss: It’s founder Shigemi Kawahara earned the title of Ramen King after three consecutive first place wins on a Japanese television show.
The popular chain has 44 restaurants in Japan and opened with a big media bang at the revamped Mandarin late last year.
It is the only ramen restaurant in Singapore with its own factory (then), producing its own noodles and soup.
To its credit, the queue moved along quite fast, and the serving staff (many speaking in Japanese-accented English) was prompt and attentive. I quickly ordered some appetizers: The Ippodu Shrimp Buns ($4) and Ippudo Home Made Gyoza ($6).
The Hakata style mini gyozas were bite-sized pan-fried dumplings that somehow gave a feel of eating tidbits.
With that said, the outside skin was crispy fried while the inside was flavourful with broth and meat. Small but packed and delicious
The Shrimp Bun was like the usual “Kong Bak Bao” steamed bun that we were used to, with one shrimp deep-fried in a special Ippudo sauce.
There was nothing that special about this bun, but the salty and crunchy batter was an appropriate blend with the soft bun.
I had an Akamaru Modern with Egg ($17) which was served with pork belly. The serving staff would also ask if you would like your thin noodles soft or hard.
My preference is always a little more ‘al dente’.
Reviews had been mixed, and so I did not expect much – and was pleasantly surprised. The noodles were springy and bouncy.
Ippudo’s soup may be light on the palate, but yet full of pork braised goodness. There are too many ramen soups out there that are just salty. I also liked it that it has chopped kikurage (wood ear mushroom) and scallions that added bite to the soup.
If you prefer something more salty, try the 2010 Kyushu Miso Tonkotsu Special ($17) which had a very ‘brothy’ feel.
While I had better and softer pork bellies and eggs elsewhere, its winning formula was really the noodles and soup. I finished almost every single drop!
While fans of Santouka, Marutama and Miharu would argue that Ippudo is too hyped-up, it certainly spices up the whole ramen market in Singapore. And I am officially ippudoed.
333A Orchard Road #04-02/03/04 Mandarin Gallery Singapore 238897
Tel:+65 6235 2797
Opening Hours: 11:00am – 11:00pm, Last Order 10:00pm (Mon – Sat), 11:00am – 10:00pm, Last Order 9:00pm (Sun)
Other Ippudo Singapore outlets
– River Valley: 207 River Valley Road, #01-55 /56 (Along Mohamed Sultan Road)
– Shaw Centre: 1 Scotts Road #04-22 /23 Shaw Centre, Singapore 228208
– Asia Square: 12 Marina View #02-01 Asia Square Tower 2, Singapore 018961
– Tanjong Pagar: 7 Wallich Street, Tanjong Pagar Centre #01-15, Singapore 078884
– Westgate: 3 Gateway Drive #03-03 Westgate, Singapore 608532
– Changi Airport T2: 60 Airport Boulevard Changi Airport T2 Singapore 819643 (Departure/Transit Lounge Central, Kiosk L)
– Changi Airport T3: 65 Airport Boulevard #02-K3 Changi Airport T3, Singapore 819663 (Departure/ Transit Lounge South)
– Marina Bay Sands: 2 Bayfront Avenue #B2-54/55 The Shoppes at Marina Bay Sands Singapore 018972