A Glimpse of the Original Ippudo in Tokyo
Fork in the Road Beijing correspondent Lillian Chou recently traveled to Tokyo, where she met another friend of ours, musician Carl Stone, and the two of them went ramen-hopping, which has long been as easy to do there as it has become in NYC -- where dozens of ramen joints have opened in the last few years.
One of their stops was Ippudo, which has three outlets in Tokyo. Here, we have a single branch, which is rather grandiose for a noodle parlor. Even in mid-afternoon early in the week, you're going to have to wait an hour or more just to get in. The specialty of the house is a pig-bone broth called tonkotsu, which originated in the southernmost Japanese main island of Kyushu, a broth that has been available here in one form or another for many years.
Lillian and Carl visited the original Ippudo, in the Ebisu neighborhood, and found it a much more modest establishment than our own, not all that different from the zillions of other ramen joints in Tokyo, though considered one of the very best. They noted other differences, too, including free appetizers of pickled spinach and bean sprouts, as opposed to the crazy roster of appetizers you pay for here.
To me, the ramen and the broth look just about the same. Another difference: The Ebisu store -- located in a semi-upscale shopping and nightlife zone -- is open every day till 4 a.m. We only wish!
Next: A photo of the interior ...