Ippudo Philippines is set to open it's 3rd branch this Friday (May 20, 2016) in Uptown Place Mall, Bonifacio Global City! This is a good news for South people, like me, and those in the Makati area! No need to brave the EDSA traffic to go to Megamall or cruise all the way to Manila to visit their branch in Robinson's Place.
Thanks to looloo's invite, we got the chance to try their BGC branch before it opens to the public. They conducted two days of "stress test" for their staff to basically give them a feel of how it will be during their launch. They sponsored two days of lunch and dinner in an invite only event.
The place was huge and well lit. It had modern interiors and was an upscale version of their Rob Place Manila and Megamall branches. They had the usual bar table, long tables and those wall chairs that are cushioned. They had this nice ceiling installation in the middle of the restaurant using lamp shades. The kitchen bar area had red and white ramen bowls and spoons as decors. One side of the restaurant had their logo and Ippudo spelled out in huge letters and then they decorated it with more white spoons - those used for slurping the soup! Every available wall space as well had Japanese painting in it.
It's not my first time in Ippudo. I've tried their Rob Place Manila branch and wrote about my positive experience HERE. I was a little familiar with their menu. They had us try one ramen each, an appetizer, a drink and a dessert of our choice. We were four in our table so we decided to get all their ramen variants with an off the menu item, we insisted on getting four appetizers though they told us that we can have two and got all three desserts in their menu though they said we can only have one LOL. We were pretty demanding but our server, Janine, handled our group so well. She wasn't the type that would readily decline, instead, she checked first if her superiors would approve. She definitely passed our "stress test!"
Onto the food, we started out with our appetizers of choice ---
|Deep-Fried Gyoza for 220Php|
Fried version of Ippudo's well loved Gyoza, these crunchy babies were sitting on top of shredded cabbage bed. They were topped with "spicy" mayo which wasn't spicy at all, some green onions and chili powder. Went well with their ponzu sauce but really, they taste good on their own.
|Pork Bun for 125Php|
Definitely not for sharing, I can inhale the whole thing in two bites. It's one of Ippudo's pride and IMO, it's expensive for it's serving. I guess you're pretty much paying for the piece of well seasoned, juicy and tender braised pork belly that's enveloped in this soft and warm steamed bun.
|Okonomiyaki for 270Php|
If you've tried Dohtonbori, then, you can skip this. It's made up of the usual Okonomiyaki ingredients but the best part were the chunks of tender and really juicy chasyu on top of the veggies, egg and flour mixture. The veggies though were a little mushy and I didn't like the texture.
|Curry Cheese Haru Maki for 220Php|
If you like Japanese Curry, you gotta try this. Deep-fried spring rolls that were stuffed with ground pork, cheese and curry! Served on a bed of fried noodles and some more curry on the side, I liked that the cheese was gooey and that the curry wasn't too overwhelming. Something unusual but worth the try.
Onto the main game - RAMEN!!! We opted to get the SPECIAL versions of their ramen which means that they added salted soft-boiled egg, pork belly and seaweed in all of our ramen orders. We also opted for very hard noddles for all ramen, except for the off the menu item.
|SHIROMARU MOTOAJI SPECIAL for 490Php|
If you wanna taste their signature broth in it's bare form, you should try this. The broth was simple but had the right saltiness and what somewhat milky. Better try this first before trying other ramen variants, in case you'll order more than one, because it's the most basic and may come underwhelming compared to the other two in their menu.
|AKAMARU SHINAJI SPECIAL for 495Php|
This is my favorite in Ippudo. It has that umami-liscious flavor coming from the added miso paste which also makes it more savory than their Shiromaru. This one also had a mild kick of spiciness because of the added chili oil plus a garlic kick from the garlic oil that was added. The pork belly was tender and had the right amount of fat trimming.
|KARAKA-MEN SPECIAL for 495Php|
The spiciest ramen of them all! Don't be fooled though because it's not super spicy as one would expect but then you can always ask them to add in more heat. This ramen had spicy minced pork in it, aside from the slices of pork belly. Also has some miso paste and garlic oil. It's savory, salty and had a stronger kick of garlic compared to Akamaru.
|Part of our spread for the night!|
Since we opted to have very hard noodles, I didn't expect that they'll be a little too soft when we ate. Though it took us quite sometime before we started eating, coz you know the looloo drill of taking pictures first before anything else lol, which could also be the factor. I also noticed that the noodles kind of stuck together even after being soaked in the broth for a long time.
|Classic Hakata-Style Tsukemen|
Off the menu item, as of this writing, their Tsukemen comes in two variants - Classic and Spicy. You can also opt for hot or cold noodles. Since they only have the Classic variant at the moment, we went with that and our server suggested cold instead of hot noodles. I liked the noodles of their Tsukemen more than their thin ramen noodles. They were thick and wavy, just like that of Yushoken. They were also firm and had a springy texture and I liked the chewiness and bite more. The noddles came in with a slice of tamago, some negi and cubes of chasu. Since it's Tsukemen, it came with a dipping sauce that was hot. The dipping sauce was thicker than the ramen soup so you'll get a nice coat when you dip the noodles. The sauce was rich and bold. It also had a distinct flavor coming from the bonito. Interesting mix of pork and fish in a dipping sauce.
Then of course, dessert!
|Matcha Creme Brulee for 160Php|
I've tried their Matcha Creme Brulee before and swear by it. When I had it again this time, it only re-affirmed how much I'm in love with it. Rich and creamy custard with just the right amount of Matcha, not too sweet and can I say - THIS IS NOT FOR SHARING MATCHA FRIENDS!!! Loved the torched sugar on top and the spinkling of more matcha powder. It was also served with a scoop of vanilla ice cream on top, which IMO was not necessary.
|Black Sesame Ice Cream for 160Php|
Single scoop of flavor packed ice cream, I've tried this before and would still recommend it coz it's one of the best Black Sesame Ice Cream in the Metro. It has a bold nutty flavor and a mild bitterness that's characteristic of black sesame. This came with some wafers and red bean paste.
|Green Tea Ice Cream for 160php|
Equally good, this had a stronger kick of matcha than the creme brulee. It was thick and creamy and really good. Also came with some wafers and red bean paste.
Overall, it was a pleasant experience. There were some booboos during our stay - like water from their aircon that dripped right smack my glass with drinking water and a fly that went staight (and died) into Reich's iced tea - but I guess the staff nailed their "stress test." Loved how they made sure to serve with a smile all through out. I hope that they will be able to carry out such excellent service when they officially launch.
What's even better? They'll be giving away FREE BOWLS OF RAMEN to their FIRST 200 CUSTOMERS on their opening day TOMORROW!!! You just have to be there, line up and eat for free!
4 out of 5 Stars for Ippudo!
--- Ippudo: G/F Uptown Place Mall, 36th St. cor. 9th Ave., BGC, Taguig City
***you can also find them here:
--- 3/F Mega Fashion Hall, SM Megamall, EDSA cor. Julia Vargas Ave., Ortigas Center, Mandaluyong City
--- G/F Robinsons Place Manila, Pedro Gil St. cor. Adriatico St., Ermita, Manila
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