Monday, September 26, 2011

Ippudo Fukuoka - Everything Tastes Better At Home

Ippudo shiro

I guess you could call it a ramen lover's Mecca, going to Ippudo, but that Mecca is almost only relevant to foreigners. We know Ippudo because it's in New York, Singapore, Hong Kong etc., and it's often true that the better ramen in these cities is from Ippudo. Hell, people are lining up for two hours to get in in Hong Kong! But in Fukuoka, or even Japan? I'm sorry to burst the bubble, but Ippudo simply doesn't rate.

TAO kuro
I looked through Ramen Walker's 2010 Top 10 in Fukuoka before heading over. No sign of Ippudo. In fact, there was no sign of Ichiran either, another foreigners' ramen Mecca.

TAO aka

That's not to say the Ippudo (we went to TAO) we had in Fukuoka wasn't good though. It was still fantastic - rich, silky soup base, umami-packed and damn feel-good. The noodles had bite and weren't at all floury. It is still the best ramen I've had in a while; its counterpart in Hong Kong pales ridiculously in comparison.

To us "gaijin", I reckon any self-respecting ramen shop in Fukuoka will be good. It is, after all, the birthplace of ramen (after the inspiration was taken from Chinese la mian).

"one-bite" gyoza - they had good vinegar to go with it too
Oh and yes, you can order kaedama - an extra serving of noodles. By the way you can do that in Hong Kong's local noodle shops too, just say "ga daye" (though you have to decide beforehand, you can't usually add it afterwards like with kaedama :P).

So go to Ippudo, bow, ooh and ahh, take photos, slurp up the noodles, drink the soup, but don't let the pilgrimage stop there (like mine did). It's okay to be a tourist. We all want to know whether they're serving us the real deal back home (I don't think they are). Go out there and try the stuff that the locals rave about. Compare and contrast, and please please please tell me how it was. (Or maybe don't... I might die of envy.)

Ippudo TAO Collection (if you're a pilgrimage maker, you might want to go the honten (original) instead, we - well, I - stupidly chose the hip TAO - I still don't know why.)
Tenjin 1-13-13
Tel: +81 (0) 92-738-7061

For the rest of my Fukuoka posts, click here!

View e_ting in Fukuoka in a larger map


  1. Sad to say but I think my last Ippudo in HK may be the best ramen I have for a while unless I journey to JP.... Bloody nuisance overvalued Yen though.

    Glad to see you enjoyed the trip :)

  2. Mariko11:10 pm

    I'm glad to hear you enjoyed the RAMEN from Ippudo HQ! As for me, I haven't tried either Ippudo in Japan or that in Hong Kong, though. The crazy queue has just turned me away...

    Tom-san! Konnichiwa! Yes, the current exchange rate is just outrageous!!! I'm Japanese but as I'm now earning in HKD, it even makes me hesitate to visit my home country!!! Feeling I'm becoming poor...

    Look forward to more posts on your Fukuoka trip!!! XX

  3. Nice observation on this discrepancy of opinions among locals and gaijins/tourists. But I think it probably has more to do with the fact that the likes of Ippudo and Ichiran has since grown into a nationwide chain and beyond, and locals probably celebrate (and appreciate) more of those standalone stalls that have stronger roots in town at the moment.

    Same mentality applies in Hong Kong (or just about anywhere else) actually - most of us will probably shrug when we hear visitors told us stories about THE best dimsum they had was at Maxim's or the out-of-the-world delicious Peking Duck at Peking Garden, etc. Let's face it - yes they are by all means still more than decent, but if you ask a local in the know, you probably won't hear those names even came to mind as one of the top 5 or even top 10 in town.

    So don't worry e*ting, you probably still have tried one of the very good ramens in Fukuoka - if not the best. The chain grew popularity for a reason.