Finally got round to trying KL's 3-month-old Hakata Ippudo late this morning. Yup, that chain which was famous for its 2.5 hour queues in New York, where even celebrities like Sarah Jessica Parker, Jessica Alba and Martha Stewart have to wait in line. When it opened in Singapore in 2008, there was a 1-hour queue when it opened each day at 11am for the first month. I'd counted myself a "regular" of sorts *until* I had a rather adverse "MSG"-syndrome one afternoon after lunch there. My lunch companion had the same reaction, so we weren't sure if it was some extra-shoyu or stronger miso in our ramen that day. My interest in Ippudo tapered off after that, and today was the first time I'd returned to one.
The KL outlet on a Saturday morning was surprisingly bereft of customers at 11am, although it filled up rather quickly and was full house by 11.45am.
It was a *noisy* place - for one, the staff would all scream in unison when some customer(s) stepped into the restaurant. Secondly, the in-house rock music was also rather loud, perhaps to drown out any slurping sound a diner might make whilst ingesting the thin ramen noodles which Ippudo was justly famous for.
For starters, I had the Pork Bun (a piece of fatty stewed pork belly sandwiched in a steamed "mantou" bun) and the Curry Cheese Haru Maki (deep-fried curried spring rolls), both of which I didn't quite like here.
The stewed pork belly was pale and rather bland, topped with mayonnaise and lettuce. I'd have enjoyed an order of "buta no kakuni" (my fave in the Singapore outlet) much more.
The deep-fried curry-filled spring rolls were nasty - the filling reminded me of those in cheap samosas you'd get in snack bars at English railway stations.
For the ramen, I opted for the more robust, miso-flavoured Akamaru Shinaji, which I'd always preferred over the blander Shiromaru Motoaji. The one here had a delicious soup-stock and perfectly-textured ramen noodles. But the egg was a tad overcooked and the yolk was firmer than should be, whilst the simmered "chashu" pork tasted rather fetid. I left most of it untouched.
Overall, Ippudo KL satisfies on 2 counts: (1) Prompt, efficient service, and (2) Offering perhaps the best ramen experience in KL, where the other ramen places are dismally worse.
Lot C4.07.00, Connection Level 4
168 Jalan Bukit Bintang
55100 Kuala Lumpur,
Tel: +603 2110 6233