You might have heard of Ippudo — perhaps on your travels to Japan, or just when you've been in Sydney. The legendary ramen chain can be found around the world, but it's finally expanded to Melbourne, having just opened up some new soupy digs in the QV building. So start planning some long slurpy city lunch breaks, because there's be a lot to get your stomach around.
But first, a little background. Ippudo has long been a reigning global gold standard of the Japanese dish (and a winter go-to the world-over). Since Shigemi Kawahara opened his first humble ramen store in Hakata, Japan in 1985, he's splashed out and launched scores of stores across Japan, the US, and Europe. It arrived in Australia in 2012 with one Sydney restaurant, before adding three more outlets in the same city. And now, six years on, Ippudo has opened two new fronts: one in Perth and Melbourne.
So what's happening in the shiny new Melbourne restaurant? The emphasis is on the tonkotsu (pork broth) ramen that has garnered Ippudo legions of fans — but there's also a variety of equally as tasty options for those who want something else. You've got the signature Shiromaru Motoaji, creamy tonkotsu ramen ($15), but you can also opt for Karaka-Men, mixing things up with spicy miso paste topping ($16).
If you're not up for ramen (for some reason), you can go for the beef sagari yaki served with fried enoki mushrooms ($17.50) or the grilled eel don for $13.50. Also, don't leave without giving the global best-selling pork buns a red hot go or three ($5 each, or three for $13).
The interior is all clean wooden lines, red and white accents and warm, lantern-esque lighting, making your heart feel as warm as your soup-filled belly. The ramen king Kawahara has said that Ippudo just wants to "spread smiles" with his fare — and if this ramen can't do that, nothing can.
Interior shots: Simon Shiff.