So this time last year, all I was reading on food blogs and Sydney-based websites were reviews raving about Ippudo, the Japanese chain that’s finally made its way to Australia. Words like ‘amazing’, ‘authentic’, ‘delicious’ and ‘perfection’ were being bandied about by all those visited Ippudo and tasted of their delights. I finally made my way there recently which I think also had its benefits – the staff were well trained by then and the restaurant was out of their honeymoon phase and had settled in for the long haul.
Located on level five of Westfield Sydney, Ippudo is tucked in a corner slightly away from the frenetic energy of the rest of the food outlets on that level. I was worried that we wouldn’t find a table during lunch on a weekend, but the service is quick and efficient with diners sitting, eating and leaving within half an hour. To tell you the truth, the service is almost too efficient – we were asked for our orders within half a minute of being presented with the menus, and empty dishes were being whisked away almost as you were taking your last bite.
One of the dishes that we knew we simply had to order after reading all the rave reviews was Ippudo’s pork bun. We had actually tried it a month earlier at the Night Noodle Markets, but found this iteration much more impressive – the bun was softer, almost pillowy soft. The pork was well marinated and had been cooked for so long that it simply soaked up all the flavour. It was a very sweet way to start our meal, and I would love to try this perhaps with a Chinese-style pickle or something similar, simply for a contrast of flavours.
I wanted to order a vegetarian dish to share, and the Goma Q called to me. I’m a big fan of marinated cucumber – my mother used to do a cold entree dish with vinegar and sesame marinated cucumber with jellyfish quite often. The Goma Q was crunchy and refreshing, with the light sprinkle of chilli spices and sesame seeds adding some depth of flavour.
K has been to Japan a few times and swears that this shiromaru tamago is on par with various ramen dishes that he’s encountered in his journeys. I found the noodles had a good chewy bite to them, which quickly disappeared the longer you left the dish. This is definitely a bowl of noodles that you eat as quickly as possible, to enjoy the noodles at their peak!
To complement the noodles, we ordered a smaller main of eel on rice. The eel was sweet and sticky with those gorgeous grill marks on one side. Combined with the sweet soy mixed with the rice, it was a hearty-sized snack, perfect for when you’re only a little bit hungry. It’s a deceptively simple dish.
Overall, I rate Ippudo an 8 out of 10. While the service is almost too brisk and doesn’t allow for dawdling with long conversations, it really works well if you’re looking for a quick and tasty meal before dashing off to another appointment.