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Revelatory ramen and transcendent pork buns. Obviously, at Ippudo...

I couldn't tell you a whole hell of a lot about ramen noodles, other than the fact that I really love the packaged, chicken-flavored variety that you can buy pretty much anywhere.  Many times, for about 50 cents a pop.

But, when you live in NYC, there's no excuse not to venture out for "real" ramen.  So, when I saw the look of horror on Stacey's face after having told her that "I've never been to Ippudo," she insisted upon being the first one to introduce me.  ASAP.

While I was excited about my Ippudo date with Stacey, I was very trepidatious about the rumors that had haunted me about folks having to wait upwards of 2-hours on line just to be seated!  Ain't *nobody* got time for that!  I mean, come on, how good could a bowl of noodles be?

Stacey and I met at Ippudo at about 6:30pm on Monday and were quoted a 1.5 hour wait time.  Yes, 1.5 hours on a Monday night!  "Lindsay, calm down," Stacey said, chuckling.  "Let's grab a couple of drinks at the bar and snack on a few orders of pork buns.  If we end up getting a table, great.  But if not, no biggie."  Fair enough.

Stacey and I each ordered fruity, sake-based cocktails that were really fantastic:  Sweet and tart, with the most precise balance of alcohol to mixer/juice.  I was impressed.  Shortly thereafter, we were presented with two orders of pork buns (two buns/order).

Ippudo: Pork bunsOK, so I like the pork buns over at Momofuku as much as the next guy.  But Ippudo's version, my friends, blows Momofuku's out of the water.  Sandwiched within a standard steamed bun is an abundant amount of charred pork belly slices that have been enveloped by a sweet and tangy BBQ-like sauce.  A crunchy section of iceberg lettuce and a large dollop of mayonnaise (which, by the way, totally reminded me of the McChicken sandwich of yesteryear) completes the most transcendent pork bun that you have/will ever experience. 

Just when we finished licking the sticky BBQ sauce off of our fingers..."Stacey, party of 2" was called.  We got a table, by god!  And it had only been about 45-minutes...

Ippudo: Communal dining tableWe were seated at a communal table, which was actually really fun.  In addition to ordering another round of drinks - plum wine over ice, for me - Stacey and I chose to split a bowl of the 'Akamaru Modern' ramen:  "The original silky "tonkotsu" (pork) soup noodles topped with Ippudo's secret "umami dama" miso paste, pork chashu, cabbage, sesame kikurage mushrooms, scallions, and fragrant garlic oil."

Mmmmm, plum wine!'Akamaru Modern' ramenThe drizzled garlic oil - which finished the dish - added the most intense flavor to the incredibly rich, savory pork broth that was anchored by a mound of long, tangled ramen noodles, slices of pork belly, crunchy scallions and green cabbage, earthy mushrooms, and salty miso paste.  I could not stop myself from eating helping.  After helping.  After helping.  And, once all of the noodles were devoured, I drank the remaining broth in my bowl as if it were a glass of water.  It was that delicious.

And, although our waitress was kind of a bitch, she wasn't nasty enough to leave a bad taste in my mouth.  Ippudo was - and I HATE to say this - worth every minute of our *only 45-minute* wait.  

Oh, I most certainly do!Ippudo on Urbanspoon


Until we eat again,

The Lunch Belle

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