It’s no secret that I love Ippudo, and so do at least 5000 other people who have reviewed the restaurant on Yelp. Some people come here for their ramen, but I come definitely for the pork buns. Trust me, it is heavenly.
A few months ago, I even waited for FOUR hours for a table of six on a Friday night to eat here. Given it’s crazy popularity, it’s good that they finally decided to open a second Manhattan location on the west side of the city. Funny enough, their new location is only a block away from the equally popular, Totto Ramen.
It’s been 3 months since Ippudo Westside opened so I figured it was time for me to see how this second location stacks up to the main location.
We got to the restaurant at around 5:45pm on a Sunday, just 45 minutes after it opened. We were told the wait would be about 30 minutes for a table of four. If you’ve ever tried to eat at either Ippudo or Totto Ramen, you know this wait time is nothing less of a miracle as you would have been lucky if your wait was any less than an hour. Score for Ippudo Westside! I wonder if this will change once more people realize Ippudo opened a new location, my guess is that it will.
The new location is a much much smaller restaurant than the main one in East Village. I would say that it’s more than half the size. It’s also much less trendy as the other location, but still features the strong modern vibe unlike the hole in the wall feel that Totto gives off.
The space is separated into three areas, the first is the bar area where you can wait and grab drinks, similar to the original. Then there’s a U-shape counter area where people are enjoying their ramen. It reminded me of ramen restaurants in Japan.
Finally, there’s a final dining area that has booths and other tables. I’d say there were about 20 tables in the area that we were sitting in.
Now, for the most important part, how does the food compare? The Hirata Pork Buns which is always the highlight of my meal at Ippudo was great as usual. The pork belly was tender and covered with the sauce that I know and love. The iceberg lettuce is still crisp, and paired with a touch of mayo with the steamed bun.
Then I ordered my standard Akamaru Modern Ramen – what can I say, when I know what I like, I know what I like. The ramen here tasted pretty similar to me, so there wasn’t any noticeable difference. Not sure if I’m just being unnecessarily picky, but I did think that the broth wasn’t QUITE as flavorful as it usually is. But once again, I’m not really sure if I’m just being especially critical since I know that this is a different location.
Do note that the menu here on the west side doesn’t have as many options as the original. However, since all I really order when I come to Ippudo is the pork buns and the “modern” ramen, the menu changes don’t matter much to me.
So, if you’re hoping to try Ippudo with a slightly shorter wait time, the Westside might be the way to go. Also, if you want to try your ramen luck, you can even just walk over to Totto Ramen, put your name down and see which wait is shorter. Just take the shortcut and walk through the parking lot via the Ramen Route:
|The Ramen Route|
Also, to be completely honest, while I was eating my Ippudo ramen last night, I was actually craving for Totto Ramen instead. :X
The stomach wants what the stomach wants right? I would also promise you that the wait time at Totto is currently longer than Ippudo. So, you win some, you lose some.