Ippudo Pork Buns are Worth the Wait

After graduating from college and moving to a new city to start a new job, I find myself constantly conflicted with walking the fine line between living life to the fullest and being the responsible adult I know I should be. With that said, I can't help but completely admire the blog "Year of Yes", written by my good friend Lia Zneimer. Lia boldly ventures to go where few 20-somethings dare: to learn how to have fun, how to embrace life and live more fully in the moment, how to let go of the self-criticism and ultimately how to reconnect with herself. In her most recent post, she said "yes" to ramen, and no, not the Cup of Noodle kind. I loved her summary of this culinary adventure so much, that I have posted it here. Enjoy!

Lesson Learned: Cup of Noodles isn't Real Ramen 

By Lia Zneimer (@liazneimer)

Disgusting confession: growing up, I used to eat Cup of Noodles dry. Yup. Dry. (What can I say? I liked the crunchiness.) Fortunately, I grew out of that phase somewhere around high school and never quite got back on the ramen bandwagon. Needless to say, when my foodie friend Brittany suggested that she, my sister and I go for ramen, I was a little short of enthusiastic. But I wanted to be a good sport, so I pushed my visions of Styrofoam cups and dry peas aside and tried to muster up some excitement.

Brittany proposed we try Ippudo in the East Village. Known as one of the City’s best ramen places, I figured there was no better way to try my first “real” ramen. (After all, it’s Year of Yes, right? Plus Immaculate Infatuation gave it an 8.8, and they’re never wrong. Ever.) We were told the wait would be an hour, which was fine; that said, when we hit the hour-forty-five mark, we began to lose hope and replace it with hangriness. It turns out that the wait was literally–no, literally–the only complaint we had all night. (That and that there’s a no-leftovers-or-takeout policy….) Once we were seated with steaming cups of green tea, we were in heaven.Between the three of us we ordered:

  • Hirata Buns (a.k.a. Pork Buns): This might seriously be one of the best things I’ve ever eaten. Don’t ask questions. Just do it. And have one for me. (2 per order.)
  • Samurai Rib appetizer: Pork spare ribs, seasoned with soy based ‘tare’ sauce served with seven-spice chili pepper and orange sauce. These were so tender the meat fell right off the bone. Thank goodness for hand wipes.
  • Akamaru Modern: “Tonkotsu” (pork) soup noodles topped with Ippudo’s secret “Umami Dama” miso paste, pork chashu, cabage, sesame kikurage mushrooms, scallions, and garlic oil, topped with nitamago (soft-boiled egg). It’s apparently their most popular ramen and came highly recommended.
  • Karaka Men: “Tonkotsu” (pork) noodle soup with Ippudo’s special blend of hot spices, topped with pork chashu, sesame kikurage mushrooms, cabbage, onion, minced pork, and scallions. We also added onsen tomago (i.e. a poached egg.) This ramen was the perfect level of spiciness. I could drink the broth all day, every day. (Okay, maybe not, but you get the picture.)

Sadly, my food photography skills are lacking, but may I suggest following @brittsullivan on Instagram and Twitter instead? She’ll more than make up for it.

Moral of the story: no matter how long you have to wait, Ippudo is definitely worth it at some point. Oh, and I shouldn’t be so closed-minded about the foods I like. I have to say, Year of Yes has never tasted better.