As most of you know by now, I teach English to mostly Japanese students, and one of the most used topics to connect with them for the first time is food! Many of them would ask if there are Japanese restaurants in the Philippines, and of course, I would say yes and mention the world renowned Ippudo Ramen! It’s a great way to build rapport with most students. 🙂 During my first Ippudo visit, I was already impressed with its ambiance, service, and quality. You really get what you pay for here, and I’m glad to have been introduced to their latest menu additions: the ramen sidekicks.
I learned that in Japan, ramen is usually paired with gyoza, and it is also the go-to meal of people who have just come from a drinking session. At Ippudo, they don’t just offer gyoza and beer; they have an even wider selection of side dishes to choose from. However, before I continue to describe each of their new items, let me first tickle your taste buds with my ramen choice: the Miso Akamaru special.
Compared with the original Akamaru ramen, the Miso Akamaru has 3 kinds of miso instead of just one (but both Akamaru variants are delicious). The base broth is still Ippudo’s signature tonkotsu (pork bone), so the inclusion of different miso varieties makes the meaty-garlicky soup richer & even more flavorful! In addition, this limited edition ramen has thicker noodles, bean sprouts, green cabbage, seasoned ground pork, and a beautifully torched chashu (pork belly) roll. Since I chose the special, my Miso Akamaru came with an extra chashu roll, a creamy soft-boiled egg, and seaweed! This ramen is already so good on its own, what more if you pair it with the newest ramen sidekicks?!
Let’s start with the fried chicken bun, which isn’t really that new since it was launched in April. I’ve tried Ippudo’s grilled chicken bun before, and though it was okay, I thought that their classic pork bun tasted much better. However, after tasting the improved chicken bun, it immediately became my favorite! The Japanese mayo seemed tastier, and the chicken? It was so crunchy! It had a lightly sweet-spicy glaze that went well with the soft white bun. I took one home, and the chicken fillet was still crunchy & flavorful even though it came from my ref! ^^
Next, there’s the fried chicken skin salad. Wait, what? Chicken skin in a salad?! Hey, it’s okay NOT to feel guilty; after all, there’s still more salad than chicken skin here! Haha! The salad is composed of mixed greens, juicy cherry tomatoes, and shio tamago (salted boiled egg). You can drizzle all those with the shoyu (soy sauce) dressing, but even without that, I already liked the mildly spicy mayonnaise that’s mixed into the salad.
Let’s have more chicken, shall we? Karaage is a Japanese cooking technique that involves deep-frying pieces of meat, usually chicken. Ippudo’s nanban karaage is an upgrade of their classic karaage: it’s now even crunchier and comes with a mixed greens salad & tartar sauce. I’m used to having tartar sauce with fish fillet, but I must say, it’s also quite good with chicken karaage! I’m not sure, but I think there were also egg bits in the sauce, making me think that it was egg salad! :p The karaage pieces were also drizzled with a sweet-sour-salty sauce that’s not too strong for the palate & does not affect the crunchiness of the chicken.
I did say more chicken, right? Lately, I’ve been obsessed with chicken wings, so I was very excited to try Ippudo’s version, and I wasn’t disappointed! My best friend Mark and I both think it’s the best among all the new sides, but we also believe these perfectly peppered babies are best eaten with lots of Japanese rice! They are covered in a mildly sweet glaze, sprinkled with white sesame, and come with a side salad. The peppery flavor isn’t overwhelming, and it seeps through the chicken meat! I can’t stop thinking about Ippudo’s chicken wings until now! ^^
If you prefer pork to chicken, then I would recommend that you pair your ramen with Ippudo’s okonomiyaki! Okonomiyaki is basically a Japanese-style pancake, albeit savory. Ippudo’s version has cabbage layers, which are then topped with delectable chashu slices, chopped green onion sprouts, creamy Japanese mayo, and okonomiyaki sauce. The entire ensemble is served on a tiny sizzling plate. Truth be told, I didn’t enjoy the sauce so much, but I did like the vegetables in the okonomiyaki! It was like eating vegetarian lasagna, and for me, it’s the best partner to any of Ippudo’s ramen variants!
I still had a few slurps left before finishing my ramen, but I was already getting full. However, no matter how full I am, there’s always room for dessert, especially when it is matcha-flavored!!! Ippudo has taken the classic crème brûlée to a whole new level of heavenly goodness! The creamy green tea custard base has an outer brittle layer of hardened caramel, which is then topped with smooth vanilla ice cream & sprinkled with matcha powder. A tiny mint leaf caps off this beauty! Yum!
If you can’t wait to try all of these ramen sidekicks, now’s a good time as Ippudo is promoting their Matsuri card. Matsuri means festival in Japanese, and a food festival awaits you because once you buy the 5 featured side dishes on your card, then you’ll get a bowl of basic ramen for free! You can buy each on separate visits or buy all 5 in one go! I’d probably do the latter… hahaha! Hello, it’s a diverse gastronomical feast that only Ippudo can offer! 😀