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Authentic Tonkatsu Ramen at Ippudo NY
The melodious invitations of “irasshaimase” (“welcome”) from all the staff at Ippudo NY as I walked into the restaurant quickly transported me back to Japan although I must admit it seemed to me slightly dissonant, almost like a dubbed movie, when I heard the phrase perfectly uttered from some of the blonde-haired, blue-eyed waiters. But the welcome was a nice touch, an additional layer of the place’s verisimilitude.
We waited for our table in the busy bar area where ramen bowls lined its red walls like trophies in a hunting lodge. The glowing reviews and reasonable prices make Ippudo NY a very popular choice even at six in the evening - presumably just a late lunch for New Yorkers. The restaurant does not take reservations so expect a little wait.
We sat in a narrow wing filled with a concentrate of small tables: You are close enough to your neighbors to smell what they ordered and be influenced by their decisions. We started with the pork bun, a popular choice: It was smooth and creamy but not as sweet as the ones I had in Japan. My wife and I both ordered ramen, she the miso tonkotsu and I the traditional tonkotsu, and we delighted in its milky oil-dappled broth, the telltale soft boiled egg, and the freshly pulled ramen. We finished with the matcha (green tea) ice cream and soft tofu, a distinctively Japanese combination, and it completed our reintroduction to the dining experiences we so loved in Japan and we were left to reflexively whisper to ourselves “oishi.”