New York City Eats

Ippudo, At Last

Ippudo Shiromaru Hakata Classic

Who said third times the charm?   My fifth and final attempt at Ippudo, Japanese Ramen restaurant on the East Village called success!

I have been wanting to try Ippudo for the longest and the wait would always be outrageously long during evening hours.  The strategy to getting a table at Ippudo is to dine during lunch on weekdays or go solo during evenings. Part of the fun is to eat with a friend of course, so I met up with my friend Hiroko who is happily 4 months pregnant for lunch at Ippudo. According to Hiroko Ippudo is New York City’s best ramen! As a native and pure blood Japanese, I trusted her and I cannot agree more.

Consecutive day in a row with temperature in New York City in the upper 90s to 100 F was the perfect weather to slurp on a bowl of ramen, I promise.  The air conditioner was blasting and making pass the reservation desk without waiting at all was exciting.  It was a moment of victory.  The lunch hours are much more slow in comparison to dinner but the servers were energized greeting いらっしゃいませ (irasshaimase) meaning welcome!  The decor of Ippudo is modern Japanese elegance.  From lighting to the layout of the tables Ippudo imports the Japanese comfort food to comfortable atmosphere to relax for a lunch or dinner meal.

The menu and description all read delicious.  Being it was my first time at Ippudo, I ordered the Shiromaru Hakata Classic bowl ramen ($13).  With $3 more I pigged out on the lunch set which I selected the Fried chicken over rice with salad.  Hiroko had the same ramen with the choice of Mentaiko (Spicy Cod Roe) over rice.  In the Shiromaru Hakata Classic Bowl ramen was slices of simmered berkshire pork, kikurage (wood ear mushroom), red pickled ginger, menma (bamboo shoots), 1/2 hard boiled egg, sesame & scallions submerged in a savory pork broth.  The texture of the noodle is definitely very distinctive and unusual.  Thin and al dente. The condiments of kikurage, menma, ginger, etc. are quite commonly used in even Chinese bowl of noodles and is frequently used in my dad’s homemade noodle soups but the way the condiments are cut and the presentation at Ippudo absolutely knocks your socks off!

いただきます!  Slurp, Slurp

The meal ended with a cup of roasted genmai cha (brown rice tea).  The desire to try Ippudo since its opening in 2007  has finally come true.  With the last 4 failed attempts in getting a table at Ippudo, my expectations have constantly built and Ippudo did not disappoint one bit and has met my highest expectations.


Ippudo /// 65 4th Avenue New York, NY 10003

Homemade, New York City Eats


APRIL 9, 2009

img_1574Rai Rai Ken /// shio ramen

A bowl of ramen and two hours long conversation with friends accompanied with ice cream is more than essential but therapeutic for a mediocre work week.  Jane and I have been i-chatting up a drool fest. in the course of the past two weeks during our boredom at work.  Since Ippudo have been introduced in New York City, this place have been jam-packed and I was curious what the hype is or if it is over hyped.  At 6:30pm, the wait for a table for three: Cynthia, Jane and I, was already insanely going to be one hour.  For Jane’s sake, since she only had a sponge cake for lunch fundamentally “air” -jane, we decided to skipped Ippudo and headed to Rai Rai Ken…another ramen joint.  I was first introduced to Rai Rai Ken by my friend Jesse.  I have never been to Japan but the size of the interior of Rai Rai Ken may be as close to a restaurant in Japan based on what I have seen on travel shows.  The restaurant only seated about 14 people on barstool and over watching non-Japanese but Hispanics preparing your bowl of ramen.  We ordered one of each ramen options available.  Jane ordered the Shoyu Ramen, Cynthia ordered the Miso Ramen, and I ordered the Shio Ramen.  Service was in full speed and in less than ten minutes we were slurping away.  The proportion of the ramen is deceiving with only one sliced of roast pork, one fish cake, one sheet of dried seaweed and  half of a boiled egg and a portion of spinach and bamboo shoots.  It certainly is not overfilling but surely satisfying and enough room for an ice cream at Sundaes and Cones.

img_15801 hazelnut not pictured =(

Sundaes and Cones was a really nice surprise.  I have past by Sundaes and Cones several times before while in St. Marks but never really acknowledged it.  With a wooden bench in the storefront it gives a sense of a very young family and friendly ice cream parlor on any ice cream weather permitted day…for me that is 366 days.  The decor reflected the friendly and patient staff at Sundaes and Cones and majority Asian and hence the exotic selections of Asian flavors such as: wasabi, taro and honey & ginseng.  I do not think I would have the patience in working anywhere with unlimited free sampling but I have to admit and I honestly do not do samplings often when allowed that it was great fun deciding which flavor to select for the ultimate one-scoop.  Cynthia and I spent at least almost 10-15 minutes or longer sampling flavors.  I sampled the taro and the semi-full bucket explains why it is still semi-full.  Cynthia suggested we both tried honey & ginseng but I had misread and misheard it as honey & ginger so I was expecting a spice to hit, instead the flavor still hit but rather unpleasant…almost like a rubber rain boot?  I end up having a full scoop of black sesame seed which is neither of the flavors I had sampled.  I was pretty confident with how black sesame would taste though I have never had black sesame seed in ice cream form,  it seems  a very common Asian ice cream flavor in Asia but practically foreign here in the states.  I wanted to be surprised and I was happily surprise.  It had a very roasted and nutty taste with a very fine sesame creamy texture…I was in heaven.  We each took a sample of each other’s final ice cream choice, Jane with the hazelnut which was nutty as well and rather nice since it tasted pure hazelnut without artificial sweetener and Cynthia’s very bold traditional choice of matcha green tea flavor would certainly be a great pair to a cup of green tea.  Sundaes and Cones is a luxurious treat on a budget and I highly recommend everyone who loves ice cream to make a visit, even my grandma with dentures would love it, I guarantee it.


iLuvPotato & Friends ate at: 

Rai Rai Ken /// 214 E. 10th St., New York, NY 1000

Sundaes and Cones /// 95 E. 10th St., New York, NY 10003 


APRIL 11, 2009

I have  been craving for curry throughout the week and I am tired of the instant Japanese bars of curry in a box and had picked up a bottle of curry powder from a small Thailand/ Indonesian grocery store on Bayard Street, owned by an adorable grandpa.  Perfect day to make curry and of course eat it!