The latest global phenomenon to hit the shores of Sydney is Ippudo, located on level 5 of Westfield Sydney. Before, Sydneysiders were queueing up for Laduree’s pretty macarons, but now it’s all about the ramen. We visited on a weeknight but still had to wait for around 30 minutes. Thankfully, there is a bar out the front and the bartenders are more than happy for you to order drinks and bar snacks while you wait.I spent my waiting time perusing the menu, so I already knew what I wanted as we were seated. One pork bun – all to myself! There was no way I was sharing this baby, and it was worth it because each bite was filled with tender, spiced pork belly, crispy iceberg lettuce, creamy mayonnaise and the slight sweetness of the pillowy-soft steamed bun. It was heaven but gone in a few bites, and left me wanting more.
We also ordered a tofu dish to start, which contained cubes of silken tofu in a hot stone pot filled with spicy minced pork. It was warming and comforting, and despite looking rather hot with the chilli oil on top, it had quite a mild chilli kick.
But onto the ramen! I went for the Shiromaru Motoaji which is Ippudo’s original tonkotsu broth. We were also able to select the hardness of the noodles from softest to hardest (on a 1 to 5 scale). I went for medium hard (4) which was pleasantly chewy. The broth was fantastic with a slightly fatty mouthfeel (not quite as fatty and collagen rich as Gumshara) but managed to stay quite light with a good pork flavour. For me, it is probably one of the best tonkotsu bases (flavour wise) I have had in Sydney. The noodles were thinner than what I am used to, and I think I prefer the squiggly chewy noodles offered at Ryo’s. Everyone on our table only got one slice of pork per bowl of ramen, which I thought was a little stingy considering the price. My piece of pork loin was also slightly dry so I think Ramen Zundo will always hold the chashu crown for me!
The Akamaru Shinaji is a variation of Ippudo’s original tonkotsu broth with miso paste and garlic oil. I didn’t try this but from all reports it was pleasantly garlicky, and everyone who ordered this happily finished off their bowls of ramen.
Karaka men is also a variation of the original tonkotsu broth, with the addition of special spicy miso and ground pork mix. It came pre-mixed into the soup, which made it hard to find all nubbly, delicious minced pork bits which sank to the bottom. This broth was quite spicy for me and masked the subtle flavour of the tonkotsu, so I preferred the original tonkotsu broth to this modern version.
Ippudo offers a few desserts as wel, one of which is the Kurogoma pannacotta. A round of black sesame custard was robed in a creamy sauce, which tasted quite nutty. The dessert didn’t have a lot of sugar in it, so it would suit those who don’t like super sweet desserts. The pannacotta had a soft and creamy texture and had a subtle black sesame flavour.
The Blue Mountains dessert is a Japanese-style sundae, with scoops of green tea ice cream, red bean paste, mandarin segments and whipped cream. A tried and tested combination of flavours and the mandarin segments provided a nice texture. All that was missing were the crunchy cornflakes!
So is it worth the wait? The ramen at Ippudo was definitely tasty and offers a unique option of choosing the hardness of your noodles. But for me it was a little expensive for ramen, and there are certainly other places to get ramen in Sydney that offer comparable quality at more reasonable prices. That’s not to say that I won’t be back – because I will be, for more tonkotsu ramen and pork buns!
Level 5 Westfield Sydney
188 Pitt St
Sydney NSW 2000
Open 7 days, 11am – 11pm