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Ramen Ippudo at Central Festival


Evil Penevil
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Ramen Ippudo is a chain of Japanese ramen (noodle) restaurants with 207 outlets in 13 countries on four continents. It's regarded as Japan's foremost ramen chain, noted for keeping traditional flavors in some dishes while experimenting with new flavors in others. 

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I tried the recently opened Ippudo branch in the basement level of Central Festival. It joins the 17 Ippudo restaurants in Bangkok where Ippudo's approach to ramen has proved very popular. Ippudo has also been a hit in New York City.

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At 4.30 p.m., I was the only customer. I had walked past it at 4.00 p.m., and there weren't any customers then, either.  A few did come in while I was eating, though.

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I ordered a small bowl of Zero Ramen soup for 130 baht, plus 50 baht extra for two soft boiled eggs as a topping.

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This is the dish than made Ippudo famous when it first opened its first restaurant in Fukuoka, Japan, in 1985.  It originally served Hakata-style tonkotsu ramen, a specialty of the Fukuoka region. Tonkotsu means "pork bones" in Japanese, which are the basis of the soup's broth.  

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The bones are boiled for hours, which gives the broth a mild yet subtle flavor and cloudy appearance. Cooked ramen noodles, traditionally firm in the middle, are then added with slices of pork belly, chopped spring onion, sesame seeds and whatever other toppings the diner chooses. 

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On request, the staff at Ippudo will bring you containers of pickled ginger and cloves of fresh garlic to use as toppings.  There is a garlic press on the table.

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The Zero Ramen was very good. The broth was excellent, about as far away from instant ramen as it's possible to get. Although I had ordered a small bowl, it was certainly enough to fill me up. The one thing that irritated me was the price was ++, meaning the it jumped to about 150 baht after VAT and the service tax.

The menu at Ippudo emphasizes ramen, but other dishes, such as rice bowls, chicken teriyaki buns, salmon, gyoza, appetizers, etc. are also on the menu.  Some pics from Ippudo's Facebook page:

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The above is one of Ippudo's fusion "innovations,"  an Asian-style steam bun filled with chicken teriyaki or roast pork.

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Bottom line:  Prices at Ramen Ippudo are moderate, if not cheap.  The branch at Central Festival is a good place to enjoy Japanese comfort food in unpretentious surroundings. I will definitely be back to try more dishes.

Evil

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