The Place No journey is too tough for a good bowl of ramen. When we heard that Ippudo had opened its new branch at Shaw Centre, the Ranter and I promptly headed over. We didn’t expect the journey to be so winding, though – you have to go through either the ground-floor or Isetan to get to the wing that is not where Lido cinema is, before heading to level 4. I was just plain relieved when I finally located the place, hungry for some noodles to get into mah belly…
The Food Every branch of Ippudo has some unique dishes, which makes traipsing around the different branches quite the experience. This particular branch feels much more spacious and yet private, with the segregated seats that is unlike the communal tables at the Mandarin Gallery branch.
We began our soon-to-be-crazy lunch with some starters. The Tako Wasabi ($6) is a must-try for sashimi lovers. It was my first time trying raw octopus, and though this small dish looked simple, the solid bite of the octopus with the clear light spark of the wasabi makes this a very appetizing appetizer indeed. #timetolearnmoreadjectives
For any childhood to be complete, corn on the cob is a fundamental ingredient. We returned to our younger days with the lightly fried Crispy Corn ($6), which has a touch of paprika to lend this light dish a gentle hint of spice. This was super yummy. I ate the paiseh-piece.
The Ranter has been really looking forward to trying the Beef Tataki ($6), thinly sliced and lightly seared beef. The comfortable thickness lends the meat ample depth, and the punch of freshness from the spring onions is the perfect balance too. Some citrusy flavours also surfaced in this dish…it is a must-try.
The Ippudo Original Pork Bun ($4 apiece or $9 for 3) is super, duper, uber good. Just order it. I’m not even going to tell you about the fragrant meat and sinful mayonnaise and light lettuce. Just. Order. It.
Some of the dishes here are only available at certain times, so do check the menu. During the evenings, the teppan dishes give that sizzling end to your long day. We got the Teriyaki Chicken ($13), and it was a hotplate of succulent chicken, savoury gravy, just-nice-saltiness. I’m not sure if you also find that chicken dishes at many places nowadays are pretty bland – just chewable blobs drowned in salty sauces? Well, be prepared to entirely change your mind with this dish.
The conundrum I always face whenever I head to places that have signature carbo dishes – like pasta, rice, or ramen in this case – is I really can’t figure out how to pace myself. On the one hand, I really want to finish my entire bowl of steaming ramen, but on the other, some of the side dishes look super good. Well, I strongly recommend heading to Ippudo with your friends, to share both the sides and also try different types of ramen. Don’t listen to the liars; less is not more. More is more.
Classic ramen you can pick here include the Shiromaru Motoaji and the Akamaru Shin-Aji. Shiro ($15 for regular, $12 for small) is of the lightest taste, with tonkotsu broth and generous spring onions. When ordering your ramen, you can also choose the texture of it. We got the Hard noodles, which lent a really good bite to the milky soup. Shiro comes with thin slices of pork loin. This dish reminded me of a gentle afternoon with some breeze and swaying trees…Very comforting stuff.
Akamaru ($16 for regular, $13 for small) is my favourite. Also a classic, this dish comes with pork belly instead, which simply melts in your mouth. The soup is the same as in Shiro, with an additional dollop of specially blended miso. It also comes with garlic oil, and soup, noodles (hard again) and pork belly alike slide into your stomach with the wily smoothness of a forbidden lover. Very, very good.
Tan Tan Tonkotsu ($16) is a specially crafted ramen dish for Singapore’s spicy palatte. The smell of sesame is strong for this one, and at first taste the spiciness is sharp, and bites. Now, only after tasting the soup alone first, squeeze that lemon into the soup and stir well. If you are half as incredulous as me, you may also exclaim – add lemon to a spicy soup, are you cray or cray – but it actually works. The lemon makes the overall flavour of the spicy soup more subtle, and richer in nature. After awhile, the sesame taste surfaces. This is a very, very close second choice for me.
Spicy Black ($16) is the heaviest of the lot – the soup has a deep meaty and musty flavour – reminds me of a roaring hearth…on a day that is already slightly warm. The peppery type of spice brings this soup another level of intensity. Definitely a more masculine dish. The Ranter found this one rather interesting in its blend of components. I don’t dig it.
When in doubt, get sweets for your sweet. The Strawberry Parfait ($8) looks entirely too Barbie-like for my liking, but I promise you it is well worth the try. One fascinating thing about all things Japanese is how they straddle that extraordinarily impossible between brutally efficient and far-out individuality. Well, don’t be deceived by the sweet pink hues here, because the ice-cream has a subtlety that is unsurpassed. The swiss roll slices are also just contained enough in their sweetness level to be enjoyable right to the last bite. The mocha and red bean additions are staples of Japanese desserts, and finish this awesome dessert.
Too bad for us that they had run out of black sesame ice-cream, so we opted for the Matcha Ice with Shiratama ($5) instead. As expected, it is also not too sweet, yet milky enough to lend a good way to settle our already-bursting stomachs. All the good things about Japanese food is in this dish – neat plating, subtle flavours, rich depth and layers in taste, and enough balance, texture and bite to round off an awesome meal. Arigato gosaimasu.
Rants This is a tough one. Well I would really rather the ramen come in smaller portions, because tasting the entire range of ramen actually increased my enjoyment of the dishes more. Being forced to settle on one big bowl is a little too much, and I won’t always be able to have enough appetite to have the ramen and also the starters and dessert.
Will I Return Again? For sure. The service is good, the food is tasty whether you crave a hearty bowl of ramen or some light sides, or you want to satisfy your sweet tooth.
Taste bud: 3.5/5
Hole in the pocket: 3/5
Overall Experience: 3.5/5
Ippudo at Shaw Centre
1 Scotts Road
Tel: +65 6235 2547
Daily: 11.30am to 10pm