Finally we arrived at Ippudo. We missed it the last time we went to NYC and we were ecstatic to finally make it this time. Out of the three Japanese places we visited (Sushi Bar Hagi, Totto Ramen and Ippudo), this place had the best service, ambience and it was spacious. We didn't feel like cattle being herded this time.
I asked for hot tea because it was so cold outside. The spoon was huge, like a ladle.
The pork belly was lacklustre. The bun was on the sweeter side. There wasn't much in there other than shredded lettuce. The pork was good but was too 'porky' for my friend. One of them was so dry it tasted like sandpaper.
Momfuku < Totto < Ippudo
This is the "Kuro Tan Tan Men" aka spicy ramen. I loved the noodles, done perfectly. However I didn't like the broth. It was very black-peppery and the spice was more akin to Chinese oil spice. It has a very bold flavour to it from the sesame sauce but I find it didn't meld well with the ramen itself. It rather felt like an unnecessary layer floating on top.
There was an extra spicy blob on the side to add. I added the whole thing making it have quite a bite. I wished the pork belly was marinated or something. It tasted plain.
Shiromaru Hakata Classic
I liked the classic pork soup noodles. The broth was milkier than Totto but not as rich. The noodles were cooked perfectly and were chewy and tender. The broth wasn't as deep as Totto Ramen, but ippudo's had a lot of toppings that added different flavours with every bite. Sometimes you'd get ginger, sometimes youd' get some mushrooms, or scallions etc. Totto didn't have a lot in the ramen itself.
If you want a simple ramen with deep flavourful broth -> Totto Ramen,
If you want a ramen with some finesse, but light broth -> Ippudo.
I give A for Service
B+ for Ambience
B for food (pork buns lacklustre).