321 West 51st Street between Eighth and Ninth Avenues
$115 for 2 people, with drinks, with tip
Ippudo without the wait? You don’t say! We stopped by the new Ippudo in Hell’s Kitchen during their soft opening week and were whisked upstairs to sit in front of the still-unused kitchen covered in subway tiles. The space will remind you more of Momofuku rather than Ippudo East Village because it’s brighter and lighter inside.
It was quite hot outside, so we decided to nosh on appetizers and try as many dishes as we could and just split a bowl of ramen for our main course. The Hirata steamed buns filled with eggplant and eringi mushrooms were really good. I loved the subtle crunch from the tempura (or was it panko?). The beer-battered fried chicken came with blistered shishito peppers and were probably the best appetizer on the menu. We weren’t as thrilled with the zucchini-potato dish because they were unexciting compared to their other tastier options.
For our ramen, we opted for the Shiromaru Hakata Classic, a tonkotsu soup noodle with pork loin chashu and sesame kikurage mushrooms, plus additional toppings of mustard leaves and pork belly. True to Ippudo style, the noodles were cooked perfectly: tender and just the right amount of bite and chew; the broth so satisfyingly rich and full.
Don’t wait until it gets cooler outside to make your trip uptown. You’ll be waiting in line soon!