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Sunday, December 21, 2014

Ippudo Philippines Review: Noodles Make the World Go a Little Rounder!

The Filipino palate is something that is easy to satisfy yet very hard to please. It means we are polite and grateful to finish what is served on our plates but it does not necessarily follow that we enjoyed the meal. This is because the Filipino cuisine is so colorful and flavorful. A simple fried fish dish would not be complete without a side dip of tomatoes, onions, garlic, red chili pepper in vinegar or calamansi  with soy sauce or other salty sauce such as the patis (fish sauce) or bagoong (fermented fish, shrimp or oyster). Notice also how our traditional recipes would consist of many spices and varied ingredients to make it not only full of flavors and colors but very nutritious as well! One example is our Sinigang (Sour soup but actually a main dish) that has many variations depending on which region it came from. Most commonly used basic ingredient for sourness is tamarind but guava, santol (cottonfruit), calamansi (local lime), guyabano (soursop), green mango and other sour fruits are also popular. It also includes many kind of vegetables all mixed in a stew of either, pork, beef, fish, shrimp or chicken! Where does one see a recipe with spices, fruits, veggies and meat blended all together in a perfectly delicious harmony of flavors!

Filipinos' unmistakable love for noodles is also very imminent. Noodles would be present in ALL and yes, I mean ALL occasions and its symbolism for long life would always be our lame excuse. Next to rice, noodles would be our staple food and we also want all ingredients and flavors mixed and sealed in to burst in the mouth in a smooth rich flow of delightful pleasure! We just loooove noooodles from our very own Pinoy Pancit, to Italian Pasta, to Chinese Mami to Japanese Ramen! Therefore, it was an awesomely welcome treat that the world's renowned ramen house, Ippudo opened a branch in the Philippines!

It was a gloomy, rainy afternoon. I came from a clinic with my BFF and was really feeling unwell. What better way to cheer up than think of a happy place with happy thoughts of food? It was noodle soup on my mind to comfort the sick and calm the growling restlessness found in the pit of my soul burning deep within the center of my being... the stomach hehe! It was a weekday but Megamall was bustling with all the late Christmas shoppers probably completing their gift list. It was already past noon but there was a long queue of eager diners seated along the famous ramen house, busy scrutinizing the menu. We found our seats and patiently waited for our turn to be served all the while looking at the pictures on the menu, salivating!

The ambiance gave a feeling of warmth. The wooden square tables were of good polish and the cushioned chairs were comfy. Although I must say, the tables were paced a bit near each other, just enough to pass by without disturbing the guest next to yours. This is probably to accommodate more diners.There was also a long table lining the perimeter of the kitchen where you could dine alongside strangers and big tables with see through dividers at the center so you can share seats with other groups and just might be lucky to win new friends if you would just have the time to look up from your bowl of noodles!  I love the lighting, it had a very soothing effect that really put me in the mood... to take a selfie LOL! A friendly staff member ushered us toward a table for two. The one who took our order was knowledgeable on the menu and gave good suggestions.

We tried the Karaka-Men Special, an "Ippudo's original tonkotsu (pork bone broth) served with wavy thin noodles, pork belly, kikurage and spring onions. Special spicy miso with ground pork and fragrant garlic oil added a kick to the senses." The thin slices of the pork belly was soft and tastily seasoned. The egg was soft-boiled to perfection. We chose the hard thin noodles so that when the piping hot soup was poured in, it achieved the perfect texture and did not come out soggy. And the broth! Oh yes, the broth! I inhaled its savory hot vapor and the flavor cascaded in the mouth long before it touched the palate with a very strong promise... and true to its aroma, it tasted heavenly!

Karaka-Men Special

The Unagi (fresh water eel) Rice served on a hot stone pot was definitely a winner! It had egg, flat noodles, and unagi flavored rice with other powerfully distinctive yet indeterminable herbs and spices. The rice which was soft and tacky blended really well with the taste of the glazed Unagi's sweetness.

Unagi Rice

We also sampled the Oroshi Ponzu Gyoza, an original and classic Ippudo special. The pan-fried dumplings topped with grated radish (oroshi) and spring onions was served with ponzu (citrus-based sauce with soy sauce). The Gyoza (dumpling) was a bit crusty on the outside but softly melted in my mouth. I enjoyed the Gyoza better however, when dipped in with Ippudo's original wasabi mixture with lemon. By the way, the bottomless lemonade was really refreshing to wash down flavors to move on to the next!

Oroshi Ponzu Gyoza

On our next visit, I took note to order the following: Nikumiso Tofu Salad (Tofu, nikumiso, avocado, cherry tomato, cubed pineapple, cashews, silantro, white leeks and sesame dressing, fish sauce), the Ippudo Pork Bun (ala siopao!) paired with Akamaru Shinagi, an Ippudo’s original tonkotsu broth enhanced with special blended miso paste and fragrant garlic oil. Served with thin noodles, pork belly, kikurage and spring onions.

Yes, we're absolutely coming back to this place where they serve the best Ramen for the Soul! Arigatou, Ippudo! You brought us big smiles! 'Till next time! :)

Arigatou! :)

With my Best Fellow Foodie!



  1. Replies
    1. Hi Darna Jedi! :)

      You're a much qualified judge of good noodles, having dined the world over for the best bowl! Bon Appetit!