I had lunch there today and tried their two signature styles of ramen: the shiromaru classic and akamaru modern, which is seasoned with garlic oil and a secret sauce. The shiromaru broth was too salty and the noodles were not as tender as I would have liked. Overall, it was a rather boring, plain bowl of ramen. The slices of Berkshire pork were tasty, though, and the cabbage had a good crunch and sweetness.
The akamaru was more interesting, thanks to the secret sauce. The broth was richer and more flavorful, and I would order it again, but I wasn't wowed by it.
Ippudo definitely has an advantage over the other East Village ramen places because of its size—it's a lot more spacious and comfortable than the usually cramped ramen restaurants. There are a lot of interesting design details, too—dried ramen under the glass-topped bar, kimono silk on the wall, tatami-lined booths, traditional tapestries on the tables, a giant bamboo tree in the center of the room. The staff is also very friendly. But the food was less than stellar. Another con: they don't have to-go containers, so if you can't finish your ramen (and it is a very large bowl), it just goes to waste.
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