My love affair with ramen began on our trip to Japan 2 years ago. Every chance I got, I was in a ramen bar slurping down a bowl. I am obsessed. Nothing can beat a bowl of firm noodles adorned with a gooey boiled egg, chashu, spicy miso and ground pork enveloped by a steaming, rich, tonkatsu broth.
Whenever I hear of a new ramen joint opening up I am eager to visit. Hopes are always high. Inevitably I am disappointed. Every time. Why can't I find that same depth of flavour, richness and perfection that I found so often in Japan????
Our weekender to Sydney was my opportunity to check out Ippudo's latest outlet. My first Japanese ramen experience was actually at an Ippudo in Fukuoka so I was excited. Surely the brand would use the same recipe for the broth the world over?!
First things first though, two pints of Asahi (on tap) were ordered before we set about deciding which ramen to order. I am always drawn to the spicy ramen so I went for the karaka men tamago (Ippudo original tonkatsu broth with special spicy miso, ground pork and a flavoured egg). TBS decided to heavy duty it with the karaka men chashu plus an egg (the same as mine with simmered pork belly). As with other Ippudo restaurants you can stipulate how firm or soft you would like the noodles. We both went for firm.
And then they arrived.
Two things are at the forefront of my mind when I order a bowl of ramen. One, I am a sucker for grinding fresh sesame seeds over my noodles, tick, and two, the egg yolk has to be gooey. My first thought after severing my boiled egg was "nooooo, you can't ruin my experience before I've even started?!" However I am happy to report that despite appearances the yolk was surprisingly soft and sticky. Tick!
I loved the pork broth. It had countless layers of flavour and was nothing like the bland, one dimensional broths that I've unfortunately come to expect. The noodles were firm and the level of spiciness complemented the broth. My ramen surprisingly contained a couple of slices of chashu also which I wasn't expecting. I was happy to eat it though and it was melt in your mouth good.
Although I was satisfied with the serving size, the bowls were definitely smaller than their Japanese counterparts and admittedly I could have kept eating if the serving was larger. However, I am a greedy guts.
I don't normally hanker after dessert following a feed of ramen as I love the lingering flavours but the black sesame pannacotta caught my eye. Black sesame anything usually gets me. The wobbly pannacotta was a great end to our meal, although it contained a touch too much gelatine the nuttiness of the black sesame won me over.
Ippudo Sydney is by far the best ramen I have come across since arriving in Australia. Now it's time to start plotting when I can get back there...
Good to know:
Pint of Asahi $9
Karaka men tamago $19
Karaka men chashu $21 plus an egg $2
Kurogama pannacotta $7
188 Pitt Street
Monday to Tuesday 11:00am to 10:00pm (last order at 9:00pm)
Wednesday to Saturday 11:00am to 11:00pm (last order at 10:00pm)
Sunday 11:00am to 9:00pm (last order at 8:00pm)
Images: T B Southam