It’s easy to spend your entire time in Japan simply eating. Do any research on the different types of food in Japan and you’ll see all options.
There’s a lot.
There’s one dish that I’d say that most people are aware of and that’s ramen. With its delicious broth, noodles, and toppings, I haven’t met anyone who has tried ramen and didn’t like it.
If you’re short on time or want to take a break from Tokyo Disneyland or Tokyo DisneySea, head on over to Ikspiari to get yourself a bowl of ramen from Ippudo. Here’s my review and why I think you need to eat here.
On the 3rd floor of Ikspiari is Ippudo, a ramen chain with tons of stores throughout Japan and overseas including Australia, Singapore, and the US. When you enter Ikspiari on the 2nd floor (most of you will) head up the escalators right before the Starbucks. Then you’ll turn right and you won’t miss it.
Ippudo is a tonkotsu ramen restaurant, where “tonkotsu” means the broth is made with pork bone. This type of ramen originates from Fukuoka on the island of Kyushu in southern Japan. The noodles are Hakata-style, which means they’re hard in the centre. Plus, comes with a delicious piece of pork belly on the top.
My mouth is watering by simply describing this.
This is a popular location, so I highly recommend visiting at off-peak hours. Since they don’t open until 11 AM, get there right before. Or mid-afternoon or late at night. Even if there’s a line, it’s worth it.
Enough about that, what is there to eat here?
What is there for food?
There are three types of ramen you can choose from, the Shiromaru Classic, Akamurau Modern, and my personal favourite, the Ippudo Karaka. For most people, the Shiromaru Classic is the easiest choice and their original ramen. You can’t go wrong with it.
The Akamaru has a more rich flavour with its miso paste and oil. Then my personal favourite, as I mentioned, is the Ippudo Karaka, which I’ll explain in a moment.
On top of that, there are smaller dishes such as the bite-sized dumplings (Gyoza), which are a must. The seasoned cabbage is always a winner and the spicy vegetable salad.
Don’t worry, they have an English menu.
How is the ramen at Ippudo?
You come here for ramen and it doesn’t disappoint. I’m not a ramen connoisseur by any stretch of the imagination, but I know a good bowl when I have it. The ramen here doesn’t disappoint. Certainly, you’re able to find exquisite bowls elsewhere, but for someone starting out in the ramen world, this is an easy win. You’re paying a bit more than most smaller hole-in-the-wall restaurants, but that’s to be expected in a tourist area.
Ippudo Karaka Ramen
The karaka ramen is my favourite of the bowls here. It’s a smooth pork broth with spicy minced meat seasoned with miso and chilli bean paste and sweet soybean paste. Since it’s spicy, you’re asked how spicy you want it. I always go with normal, which is a nice level of spice. Otherwise, I’m too busy wiping my nose instead of enjoying my bowl of ramen.
If you’re like me, you may run out of noodles before your broth. There’s a simple fix for that, order more noodles! All you do is ask your server for “kaedama,” which gets you another order of noodles to put into your broth. I always go with “futsuu” which is the “normal” way for the noodles to be cooked. Their English menu has the words on how to order other styles of noodles such as firm, very firm, or a quick boil.
To call your server over, put your hand up and say “sumimasen” which means “excuse me.” It may feel rude, but it’s completely acceptable and expected when you want to get the attention of the staff, so don’t feel bad.
Chris, tell me about this gyoza
I could write an entire essay on gyoza and why I love it (maybe I should). The little dumplings here at Ippudo are downright delicious and the vinegar sauce given to dip them brings it all together. You need to get the gyoza. I don’t care how full you are, you get these, OK?
Is Ippudo Ramen worth it?
Is it worth your time to eat at Ippudo in Ikspiari? Absolutely. If you’re new to the ramen scene, this is an excellent place to wet your lips to the culinary art that is ramen. The only negative is you’ll want to try more ramen.
If you’re nervous about visiting a more traditional restaurant, then ease your nerves by reading their English menu ahead of time. Once you’re at the restaurant, ask for the English menu and the staff are more than happy to get it for you. You’ll be a pro in no time.
For other restaurants in Ikspiari, I recommend the new Chubby Airlines for fried chicken and my personal favourite, Guzman Y Gomez for burritos. Or, if you’re in Tokyo Disneyland then I recommend China Voyager to get your noodle fix.
Teach me more about ramen, Chris
As I mentioned, I’m not a ramen expert. I simply eat what I enjoy. If you’re out and about in Tokyo and other parts of Japan, other chains I recommend at Afuri and Ichiran. If you’re more inclined to dive into the culture of ramen, I recommend Ramen Adventures, for your research. Also, if you want to watch ramen being made, our friends over at Maction Planet have a great video of a place in Shimokitazawa, Tokyo.
Are you a ramen fan? Let me know in the comments!