With the recent hot weather, a ramen store would probably be one of the last places you’d expect to find me. But I’m not the only mad one- there’s plenty of diners also at Ippdo Ramen restaurant at Central Park!
I’ve heard many great things about Ippudo, especially when it just opened in Westfield’s Sydney just under two years ago. Much was said about the crazy long lines and the great ramen, and the one time I managed to make my way over to have a look, I was too hungry to wait in the line. The lines have died down by now, but they’ve also opened a second branch in Central Park which is much closer to uni for me!
So what’s the hype? I’m told that Ippudo’s noodles have won multiple awards in Japan, with its founder winning the title of ‘Ramen King’ after winning the ‘Ramen King Championship’- a Japanese TV show, similar to Iron Chef but for ramen only. Though I can’t say how the Australian version compares to the Japanese one, they do take their ramen very seriously, with their own noodle factory supplying the restaurants daily with freshly made noodles and gyoza. Fun fact: the thickness of their noodles are made depending on the temperature of the day!
Given the location of the Central Park branch, the menu is a little more student friendly with its Shiromaru Base Ramen priced at $10. Other ramen options are a little pricier, though you do get excellent ambience, great food and faultless service for the price. I was surprised when the waitresses automatically brought over glasses of water the moment we finished the last sip of our drinks!
The drinks menu contains your usual drink varieties, as well as a couple of teas. The lemon tea is light and refreshing without being too sweet. It’s a great thirst quencher too- perfect for this weather.
Gyoza is a staple menu item in any Japanese restaurant, but what makes their version so unique is their dipping sauce. Sure, the cute delicate dumplings with the soft wrappers are great- pan fried til slightly crisp and with a tasty meat filling. But it’s the spicy sauce- a mix of miso and goubachang that really packs the flavour, making it quite different to other gyozas I’ve had in the past.
The miso tonkotsu is an offering only available at the Central Park branch, a mix of their signature tonkotsu (pork) soup base with red miso. The soup base doesn’t disappoint- it’s rich and flavourful without being too thick and heavy and with an extra bit of saltiness from the the addition of miso which adds complexity to the flavours.
My friend’s order of the miso tonkotsu special is about the priciest ramen on the menu at $25, but it’s not difficult to see why. Topped with the usual suspects- pork belly, corn, bamboo shoots and shallots, the bowl of ramen comes with an additional plate of toppings including seaweed, pork belly, bamboo shoots, black mushroom, flavoured egg and more spring onion. Perfect for large eaters- you probably won’t even need to order a kaedama!
I had much difficulty deciding on my bowl of ramen, but ended up choosing the Shojin for something a little different. The waiter instructs me to try the soup first, before putting in the kakiage (vegetable tempura) because the soup base is light and delicate in flavour, which changes after the addition of kakiage.
It’s a vegetable based ramen, meaning that it’s a lot lighter in flavour than the tonkotsu based ones, and the flavours are indeed quite delicate as the waiter mentioned, but by no means bland. It’s made from vegetable extracts, and as my friend noted, the flavour so taste quite ‘real’. It’s quite different to other ramen bases I’ve had in the past (certainly not comparable since the flavours are so different) so it’s perfect for when you’re after something different that’s not as strong and heavy as a tonkotsu base!
The noodles are different to the ones in the miso tonkotsu ramen, being a little more straight and brown from the wholegrain- reminding me a little bit of soba noodles with a pleasant bite (not too soft).
I hadn’t come with a particular intention to have dessert but a quick glimpse of the photos on the dessert menu and I was sold. We ended going for the anmitsu ice cream as it was recommended on the menu, which comes as a scoop of vanilla ice cream served alongside various interesting things such as mochi, jelly cubes, black and red beans. It certainly makes for a fun experience trying to identify everything that’s in there without looking back at the menu- I for one had a bit of trouble identifying what the black beans were at first because they were so big (they looked like jellybeans)!
Von dined as a guest of Ippudo and SD Marketing