Friday, August 5, 2011

Ippudo HK - 一風堂 香港

Some people like queuing up to try new places. The longer the queue, the better it must be. After all, 50,000 Frenchmen can't be wrong. Mum and dad are not huge fans for queuing up for food, but often end up doing so. Last night was another such occasion.

Ippudo finally comes to Hong Kong, after opening oversea branches in New York and Singapore. Officially it was opened on 18 July, less than 3 weeks ago. So perhaps the word hasn't really spread and they could avoid the queue. Truth is too many people knew already!!

Having arrived just before 6:30pm, they were 474 and it was number 380 turn to be seated. It wasn't after 8:30pm when they were seated. Total waiting time 140 minutes. At that point, the shop had stopped giving out new numbers and the tally was 740!! With last order at 10:15pm, the maths just didn't add up.

But was it worth the wait?

The pork bone broth was as good as the one in they had in the original main shop in Fukuoka, Japan and the tenacity of the noodles was similar as well. The pork slices somehow weren't as tasty. Tough to pinpoint what's the difference, since it's never an A-B comparison with these things. Some might say the broth was too greasy, but then that's the Ippudo style. Dad till can't forget the stomach upset after gulping down the last drop of Ippudo's broth in Osaka 8 years ago.
一風堂 香港 - 辣肉味

If you like the feel of a lighter broth, go for the Karaka (Spicy) ramen. Never had that in Japan, but its taste was reminiscence of the Chinese dan-dan noodles 擔擔麵.

一風堂 香港 - 白丸

一風堂 香港 - 赤丸

The Hong Kong shop also makes a distinction between the pork slices they served in the Shiromaru (白丸 original pork bone broth) and the Akamaru  (赤丸 broth with red miso paste). The former is served with leaner "char siu" and the latter is served with fattier "pork loin".

一風堂 香港 - 叉燒角包

Another item you wouldn't have seen in the original Ippudo Japan menu, it's the Char-siu bun (叉燒角包). It was created as Hirata Bun in the Ippudo New York menu in 2008 and offered in selected outlets in Ippudo Japan in 2009 as a reverse import (逆輸入). ref ippudo official website

Momofuku Pork Bun taken in New York 2009
As you can see it looks remarkably similar to the most famous pork bun in New York, the Momofuku pork bun. And if you read David Chang's Momofuku cookbook, you see that the inspiration of the bun most probably came from the kitchen in Grand Hyatt Chinese restaurant in Hong Kong. It's really gone the full circle!! Also 角包 is not a description of the shape of the bun, but instead from Japanese 角煮 (kakuni which means stew made with cubed pieces of meat). This bun wasn't very tasty and definitely not as good as those in Momofuku.

Overall, Ippudo Hong Kong gives you the best and most spacious environment to enjoy your bowl of ramen. Even the waiting area is spacious and well ventiliated. Its quality is probably among the best in Hong Kong and the prices are very reasonable (HK$68 for the basic ramen before 10% service charge). You can avoid the queue by going there early, like 11am when it opens. Go before the crowd gets even larger!!

Ippudo, Shop 210, 2/F, Silvercord, 30 Canton Rd., Tsim Sha Tsui, 2957 8893; Daily 11:30 - 23:00
see link for ippudo fukuoka and other ramen in kyushu
see link on momofuku NYC

Some of the other ramen places that we wrote about. Ramen

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