Wednesday, 12 March 2014

Hakata Ippudo @ Pavilion

This famous Japanese ramen restaurant chain was founded in 1985 in Japan's ramen capital of Hakata (where the first Ippudo store was opened) and became one of the most popular ramen restaurant over the years.

The interior of Hakata Ippudo @ Pavilion is unlike other ordinary Japanese ramen shop as it has a rather modern, stylish décor with an interesting 'display of spoons' and a 'wall of bowls' in red and white.  After hearing so much about their ramen, I had the opportunity to try it last Saturday.  I ordered a couple of appetisers to start off our meal.

First up was the ever popular Ippudo Pan-Fried Gyoza @ RM12 (for 5 pcs).  The gyoza (like a pot sticker) is very similar to the Chinese "wor tip" (meat dumpling) in taste except that the Japanese gyoza wrappers are much thinner and usually served with a soy-based sauce (seasoned with rice vinegar) and a chilli oil dip.  At about RM2.50 a pc, Ippudo's original pan-fried gyoza dumpling was kinda small and pricey but more than made up for it in terms of flavour.  When you bite into the super thin skin, there's a burst of juice and flavour coming from the gyoza...well worth the price!

Another side dish I ordered was the Crispy Corn @ RM8 which was lightly battered and deep fried and topped with seaweed flakes and paprika seasoning.  The deep frying created a slight crunchy coating on the young corn, probably due to the buttery breadcrumbs or (maybe) cheese coating, which made it flavourful while the corn remained juicy.

The final appetiser we ordered was the Spicy Shrimp Mayo @ RM15 which came beautifully plated.  The prawns, lightly battered and deep fried, were succulent though the batter was not as crispy as I would have liked it.  As the prawns were fresh and succulent, I am willing to 'excuse' the not-so-crunchy batter.  What made the prawns taste good was their outstanding homemade spicy mayonnaise dip.  As for the heads of the prawns, you can still 'suck' the hell out of it but it's not crunchy enough to be eaten totally though...which was a shame (as the Chinese just love to eat prawn heads)!

My son ordered the Unagi Rice with Wasabi @ RM17 as his main meal.  The fresh grilled eel came with some shredded egg omelette on a bed of Japanese rice and their homemade sauce.

You can't come to a ramen house and not order ramen, so I ordered the Shiromaru Motoaji Special @ RM34 which was Ippudo's original tonkotsu broth served with ultra-thin noodles, salted soft-boiled egg, pork loin, seaweed, bean sprouts, kikurage (black fungus) and chopped scallions...a classic Hakata-style ramen.  The wait staff will ask you if you'd like your ramen soft, normal or hard.  I chose normal as it's the obvious choice if you don't want your ramen too soft or too hard.

I have never been a big fan of ramen.....until I ate this bowl of ramen!  The "tonkotsu" (pork bone) stock had a robust porky flavour which was the result of hours and hours of boiling/simmering.  I loved the lean, tender and flavoursome pork loin while the soft-boiled egg was slightly salty and runny in the middle which made it so much better.  Add a sprinkle of sesame seeds and paprika and you're good to go....slurrppp!
Our drinks were Kiwi Juice @ RM7.90

and Orange Juice also @ RM7.90

My Personal Opinion

I've been converted....I am now a fan of ramen!  Now I know why people love ramen so much because if it's made well, it's really good (not like the mediocre ones I've been having).  Who wouldn't like a big hot bowl of ramen on a cold, rainy day....right?

At RM34 a bowl, you might think that it's pricey but the quality of the broth makes it all worth it.  Can't wait to return to have another bowl of ramen and also to try the other items on their menu.

It's the ultimate meal-in-a-bowl....and (yes) you can slurp (all you want)!

What I really liked:  It's a no brainer...the ramen, of course!  The service is good and attentive and the food arrives piping hot.   
Dislikes:  On the food.....nothing really but the tables/seats were a little cramped and close to one another...but you can understand why as they're one of the busiest restaurant on that level.

Restoran Hakata Ippudo
Lot C4.07.00 Connection Level 4
Pavilion KL
168 Jalan Bukit Bintang
55100 Kuala Lumpur
Tel: 03-2110 6233

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