Something sweet and sour was the perfect start to our ramen meal at Ippudo in Bangsar Shopping Centre recently.
The Momotaro Tomato Pickle bowled us over with its lush, juicy and sweet segments soaked in a light vinegar with hints of plum.
The Momotaro is a Japanese variety of tomato, which is sweet and tangy on its own. It was like eating a chilled fruit at Ippudo, the tartness hitting first, soothed by its sweetness. I couldn’t resist drinking up the pickling juice – it was so good.
Ippudo at Bangsar offers a wider menu of appetizers to go with cocktails, and these are only available after lunch, from 3pm onwards. One of these is the Ippudo Original Spicy Pork Tacos. There were two tacos, a marble slab on together with a Caesar Salad, and gherkins.
The crispy taco collapsed at the bite into hot and flavourful minced pork simmered in spiced miso, on top of chopped tomato, onions and green capsicum, and grated cheese. It was a winning combination, so much better than some of the Mexican tacos I have eaten. The tacos are a meal in themselves if you are not sharing, with the greens and pickles completing it.
There is a set menu at lunch here, with a choice of four varieties of ramen and two side dishes, served with green tea or a soft drink at RM30.
A Crispy Pork Salad with fried thin potato strips, bacon and romaine lettuce tossed with a mayo dressing is one of the side dishes. The other is a lunch box of rice topped with diced grilled salmon, grilled eel and salmon roe and sliced cucumber. The dressing was a little too salty for the salad.
We tasted two ramen – Shiromaru Motoaji and Ippudo Kuro. I have had the first at the Pavilion outlet; Ippudo Kuro is only available at this Bangsar outlet.
Shiromaru Motoaji is the original Hakata-style ramen, with thin noodles steeped in a tonkotsu broth, together with two slices of pork loin, beansprouts, wood fungus and lot of finely chopped spring onion.
Hakata is Japan’s ramen capital and Ippudo was started there in 1985 by Shigemi Kawahara, who has been crowned Ramen King five times and has been inducted into the Ramen Hall of Fame in Japan.
I liked the pale milky tonkotsu broth for the Shiromaru Motoaji as it didn’t hit me in the face with extreme saltiness like in most ramen restaurants in Kuala Lumpur.
There was a certain delicacy about this broth that released the sweetness derived from long hours of boiling pork bones, resulting in an opaque broth, rich in gelatin and flavour. The pork loin didn’t have that strong porky aroma, which was excellent. To the broth we crushed some garlic, which gave it oomph.
We asked for the ramen to be hard (you could also ask for medium), and the noodles were smooth and slightly resistant to the bite, which was wonderful.
Ipuudo Kuro has a heavy, zesty broth flavoured with spicy blended miso and garlic. It comes with thick, chewy ramen, roasted pork loin and whole pieces of wood ear fungus. We thought the broth was too salty (because of the miso), though the ramen had the perfect texture and the roasted pork loin was smoky and delicious. I loved the crunchy wood ear fungus in this one.
Dessert was a sublime Caramel Pudding which was suitably eggy, wobbly, and with a bitter edge to it from the caramel.
The Spicy Pork tacos are RM19, Momotaro Tomato Pickle RM15, Ippudo Kuro is RM28 (without the set), Shiromaru Motoaji RM26, Caramel Pudding RM13.
Other appetizers in the Ippudo menu here include US Short Rib with Wasabi Black pepper Sauce, Braised Pork Ribs with Caramel and Marmalade Sauce and Seared Salmon Roll with Mentaiko.
Ippudo is on the ground floor of Bangsar Shopping Centre, Jalan Maarof, tel: 03-2011 6238. – April 12, 2014.