“With one quick yield of the chopstick, the ajitsuke tamago breaks open
and a stream of vibrant yellow yolk floods into the flavoursome broth.
For the very first time, I lose my IPPUDO virginity”
“You know I’m an IPPUDO virgin, don’t you?” I ask Mysaucepan as we head towards Sydney’s newest ramen brasserie tonight.
“Well, you’re about to lose your virginity then, aren’t you?” she replies.
“Sure am” I say. “I hope it’s gonna feel special.”
A shift towards casual dining in the last couple of years has seen an explosion of Japanese ramen joints all over Sydney, joining the fray of Vietnamese pho, Thai street food, Malaysian delights, Korean BBQ, Spanish tapas, Italian tapas, Chinese dumpling and the list goes on.
Thanks to the kind invitation from SD Marketing, we are here to sample what has been widely regarded as one of Sydney’s best Japanese ramen.
One Central Park, Chippendale
IPPUDO is located within One Central Park, the two prestigious and luxury residential towers that sits above a retail precinct right in the heart of Chippendale.
Developed by Singaporean-based international property development giant Frasers Property, this residential, commercial and retail precinct is a visionary re-development of the old Carlton & United Brewery site located at the southern end of Sydney CBD.
Residents enjoy the convenience of Woolworths supermarket, cafes, restaurants, shopping and public amenities that include a short stroll to Central train station.
Critically-acclaimed for using green energy and building an underground self-sustainable water retention system that pumps water up to residents and retail facilities of the entire complex, the residential towers also incorporate a ‘living forest’ of flora and fauna on its balconies.
“This feels like ION shopping centre in your hometown Singapore with all these fake plants!” I say to Mysaucepan as we wander through the complex.
“Well, it’s a Singaporean developer who did this after all” she proudly proclaims.
Situated within the forecourt of the shopping precinct, IPPUDO is in cool company that includes Max Brenner Chocolate Bar, Ribs and Burgers, Latin American cigar bar Coco Cubano, Autolyse cafe and Brazilian churrasco Fogo.
IPPUDO Central Park, Chippendale
Founded in Hakata, the ramen capital of Japan on 16 October 1985, internationally-acclaimed ramen brasserie IPPUDO began its Australasian foray in Sydney in December 2012. A reported 390,000 customers have visited its maiden outlet in Westfield Sydney.
We are among the very first to walk into the spanking new restaurant here in Chippendale which is yet to officially open for business.
An 8-seat communal table takes centre stage in what appears to be one of the largest 40-seat restaurants that I have been to.
Hot beverages are not available on the menu because IPPUDO is serious about their ramen. The rationale being you do not sip hot Japanese green tea while slurping hot ramen noodles at the same time.
So the drinks menu offer a selection of chilled beverages ~ Japanese beers, IPPUDO original cocktails where sake and umeshu is mixed with your choice of cranberry juice, orange juice, apple juice, grapefruit juice, lychee juice, gin, whisky or tequila.
Japanese sake, shochu, umeshu and fruit sake make up the remaining alcoholic listing.
I choose an ice lemon tea to ease myself into the IPPUDO experience while Mysaucepan settles with an ice green tea.
Seared salmon sushi
A platter of five seared salmon sushi morsels arrive soon after we give food orders to our waitress.
Slivers of seared salmon are curled around sushi rice, avocado and topped with mentai mayo sauce and tobiko.
Right here is one delicious mouthful ~ smoky charred salmon with creamy mayo sauce with subtle pops of tobiko.
The restaurant is yet to open for business. Tonight’s dinner is a private event hosted by IPPUDO for food bloggers to get the word out on its new outlet located so close to University of Technology, Central train station and Sydney’s Chinatown.
“There are so many food bloggers here tonight” I say to Mysaucepan.
“And almost entirely Asian food bloggers too” she says.
“What is it about Asians having to take photos of their food before they eat it?” I ask. “Did you know this restaurant is probably the most-blogged on Urbanspoon ? More than one hundred and forty bloggers have put in their two cents view about IPPUDO in Westfield” I inform her.
“They must have got their marketing strategy right then” she says.
“Yeah, to all the Asian food bloggers” I say.
There is a sense of Japanese clockwork efficiency in the dining room as waiters take our food orders and explain how ramen should be eaten.
“How would you like your noodles sir – soft, medium or firm?” our waiter asks as a standard operating procedure.
“Medium for me” I say.
The extras such as tamago or flavoured egg, simmered chasu and roasted nori come in a separate plate to allow more space in your bowl and to prevent the crisp roasted seaweed getting soggy.
Miso Tonkotsu Tamago
Mysaucepan orders the Miso Tonkotsu Tamago which is a miso-flavoured stock paired with curly noodles, bamboo shoots, corn and chasu.
“Just taste the soup first before mixing it up with the miso paste” says our waiter.
We found this broth extremely salty though flavours are good.
Akamaru Shinaji is one of IPPUDO’s signature ramen – an original tonkotsu broth enhanced with a scoop of special blend miso paste and dark, fragrant garlic oil.
Served with thin noodles, slivers of black mushroom, pork belly and finely diced shallots, IPPUDO prides this bowl of noodles as a modern and elegant interpretation of its ramen.
The noodles are al dente while the pork broth is flavoursome with good depth and complexity.
Apart from the broth being right on the mark, another highlight is the chasu which is impossibly tender to the point of being difficult to pick up with your chopsticks without it falling apart.
With one quick yield of the chopstick, the ajitsuke tamago breaks open and a stream of vibrant yellow yolk floods into the flavoursome broth.
This flavoured egg (additional $2) is firm while the yolk is runny.
Add on extra simmered pork belly (additional $3), extra roasted seaweed, flavoured black mushrooms, bamboo shoots ad spring onions (additional $3) and it becomes a pretty hefty bowl or Japanese ramen for $24 in total.
The management team appears very serious in getting the perfect bowl of ramen to its customers.
Our waiter offers a questionnaire at the end of our meal to solicit feedback and comments on how the restaurant can further improve on an already high quality bowl of ramen and service.
IPPUDO is relatively more expensive than most ramen houses in Sydney but the emphasis is quality.
Consistency appears to be key in dishing out ramen with high quality ingredients, resulting in a hearty broth that is right up there with the very best in Sydney.
Oh, and yes … it did feel special losing my IPPUDO virginity.
So dear readers, there are so many restaurants serving Japanese ramen in Sydney. Which Japanese ramen is your favourite and why?
ChopinandMysaucepan dined courtesy of IPPUDO Central Park and SD Marketing.
This meal was hosted as a private function prior to the restaurant officially opening for business. All views and opinions are our own.