I never got around to trying Ippudo in New York, although I’d been meaning to go for years, so I quickly said yes when David from Japan Kyutsu asked if I wanted to go to the newly-opened Paris location. Ippudo Paris is the Japanese chain’s only European location besides Ippudo London.
We started with the gyoza, 6 euros for 6. That doesn’t sound too bad until you see how small the gyoza are – each is under an inch long! But they’re worth it.
Dumplings consist of a set amount of filling enclosed within a wrapper. The wrapper completely surrounds the filling, conveying how everything needed for the perfect bite is already there and that the perfect bite involves no more and no less. However, the ratio of ingredients matters and too often I’ve had dumplings/potstickers/gyoza/wontons where the flavor of whatever meat is involved dominates the other flavors, either making them disappear or, worse, clashing with them. Ippudo’s gyoza are perfect in how the ingredients harmonize, and the texture is perfect as well, again contributing to how harmonious each bite is. These gyoza come with the standard soy sauce and an unusual smear of green pepper paste.
Ippudo only has a handful of ramen types, distinguished by broth and toppings. The broths are full-flavored and smooth, creamy without being greasy. The marbling of the pork speaks for itself.
Again, it’s obvious that care went into determining the most harmonious ingredients proportions. There was one thing that surprised me -Ippudo’s noodles.
Like most people, I’ve eaten much more instant ramen than handmade noodles, so I was expecting curly noodles that had bounce to them. Ippudo’s ramen is traditional and doesn’t have that chewiness. Ramen’s roots lie inChinese la mian (stretched/pulled noodles), and Ippudo’s noodles are indistinguishable from authentic la mian I’ve had in China. I strongly recommend ordering the firmest noodle option, for chewiness. Ramen is characterized by its texture, achieved by the use of kansui, an alkaline substance, in the dough process, but I couldn’t tell if Ippudo had even used any kansui because I could bite through the noodles with no resistance even on the second-firmest noodle option. The experience is still completely Japanese because of the well-done broth and toppings, but ramen fans enamored with bouncy noodles might want to skip Ippudo, where a single bowl without add-ons is the price of a set meal at other Japanese restaurants. The noodles are good – la mian is good – but they may not be what you’re looking for. No one at our table asked for kae-dama – a low-priced second serving of noodles – although we all drank all the soup.
(I haven’t tried this myself, but many western food sites say that you can replicate the bounciness of ramen with prepackaged spaghetti by adding baking soda, an alkaline substance, during the cooking process.)
Ippudo is located at 14 Rue Grégoire de Tours, 75006 Paris in the trendy Odéon area. It’s a nice place to walk off those carbs in.