Ippudo, the international Japanese restaurant, lands itself in Sydney's CBD.
Amidst the lunchtime rush on level five of Westfield Sydney’s food court, the international Japanese restaurant Ippudo, attracts hungry customers by bringing its popular ramen dishes to the tables of Sydney diners. The restaurant stands out among the many eateries on offer inside the Westfield, with the small, exclusive dining ambience welcoming any passer-by looking for a place with fast service and generous proportions.
This matte-black tiled restaurant with light wooden tables is quite sophisticated and modern compared to other Japanese restaurants. The ceiling is not straight and levelled. Look up and your eyes are captured by the curved pattern, following the wooden panels like the waves of the ocean. These waves continue along the right-side wall, where the creamy, yellow cement is covered with little grey curves and lines, creating an intricate and visual backdrop behind the right-side dining area. A few highlights of bright red and white plates spark a little colour and contrast.
A range of Ippudo's famous dishes for lunch
Walking into Ippudo is also like no other. You’re greeted immediately at the entrance, and the very moment you step inside the restaurant, your arrival is announced to the rest of the staff. Irrashaimase, the Japanese welcome greeting travels loudly from the lips of chefs and other waiters and waitresses, with the sound of their greeting voices causing you to do nothing else but smile as you take a seat and observe the menu handed in front of you. While Ippudo might pride itself on their famous ramen dishes or architectural elements, their hospitality should also be highly commended.
Dining it at lunchtime, you’ll be handed a double-sided laminated menu; one side filled with options for a la carte, salad, rice and dessert while the other is covered completely with four types of ramen bases – Shiromaru, Tori Shoyu, Akamaru and Karaka Men.
Shiromaru Motoaji, a classic Hakata-style ramen with a tonkotsu broth.
The Shiromaru Motoaji ($15) is Ippudo’s original tonkotsu (pork bone) broth. This pork-based broth is known to be a classic Hakata-style ramen, making it an ideal ramen choice for anyone looking for a little authenticity in their meal. The lightly tanned, clouded broth is served with thin noodles, two slices of tender pork loins and a generous helping of bean sprouts, black mushrooms and shallots. It’s a hearty ramen with a creamy consistency, of which is slightly tangy in flavour with a hint of garlic. When ordering your ramen, you’ll be given a choice for soft, medium or hard cooked noodles.
Crunchy, mixed-leaf mini salad.
Add an extra $4 to your ramen, and you’ll be granted a lunch set deal, choosing between the Karaage set, Chashu Rice set or the Gyoza set. Each lunch set comes with your choice of ramen, a small plate of chicken, rice or dumplings, and a bowl of mini salad.
Chicken Karaage, golden and crunchy, with a little mayonnaise and lemon.
The Karaage Chicken is a perfect side dish, especially if you’re accompanied with young children. This deep fried soy marinated chicken is served with a dollop of mayonnaise and a small wedge of lemon on the side. While the batter encasing the chicken is golden and crunchy, the inside is just as succulent and juicy. There is no chalky appearance or aftertaste. If the three pieces served with the lunch set is not enough, there is an option in the a la carte for five pieces ($7).
Chashu Gohan, rice with Ippudo's original simmered pork belly.
Despite being well-known for their ramen, Ippudo also offers a few rice dishes, one being the Ippudo Chashu Gohan ($6). This small bowl of rice contains pieces of Ippudo’s original simmered pork belly with a handful of rice. Served with a sheet of nori and topped off with a garnish of egg and shallots, this particular rice dish is sweet and soy in flavour. Again an ideal dish for young children.
Ippudo lives up to its expectations as an internationally recognised Japanese restaurant. Its dynamic and modern interior and hospitable service is enough to attract diners at the first sight, and the food enough to bring one back for a second, third and a few more visits to come. As a food court restaurant, Ippudo is high quality, yet it has the potential to open up as its own exclusive restaurant one day, outside on the streets of Sydney.
Where: Westfield Sydney, Level 5 (Shop 5021), 188 Pitt Street Sydney NSW.
Why: Different types of ramen, hospitable service, and a beautiful interior.
Cost: A la carte from $4-$10. Salads from $10-$12, and Rice from $6-$13. Ramens from $15-$24.
When: Mon-Tue 11am-10pm, Wed-Sat 11am-11pm, Sun 11am-9pm. Unfortunately, no reservations are taken.
Good for kids: Yes
Take away: No, due to stringent food quality control.