Ah, Ippudo. If it wasn't such a perfect bowl of ramen, I'd probably be against their whole monopoly on the world's ramen supply agenda. With massive shops the talk of the town in New York and Singapore, they show no sign of slowing down. And no sign of trying new things.
A collaboration with Japanese drum troupe TAO brought about this new, slightly different Ippudo shop. I don't know if the drummers had any input or not. There is some flowery talk on the shops official "concept", talking about Japanese passion and how seeing a few hundred taiko drummers is akin to eating good ramen. Anyways, I brought a couple New Yorkers in Tokyo along on this adventure. Good thing the taste is different! (slightly)
The interior is bright reds and blacks.
Not surprising, the bowls come in either red or black variety. I went with the spicy red, with cheese topping. I like how the cheese was pre-mixed with some hot tonkotsu soup to melt it a bit.
And the spicy red bowl is pretty good. I went with a 3 out of 8 on their spiciness scale. I think I could have managed a 7, it wasn't very hot. The taste is, yes, a little different than their standard style. The addition of caramelized onion bits brought a lot of flavor.
The interior has a big TV playing clips of drumming. Interesting concept, but I don't think I'll be returning. This shop was practically empty, and they had just opened 3 days before. This is unheard of in my world. Even the regular, run of the mill Ippudos have a line at night. And the downside of bright red everywhere is that it wasn't so comfortable. Other Ippudos are really relaxed, a great place to have a beer, some gyoza, and a couple extra helpings of noodles with your ramen. They were so overstaffed and under-customered that I practically had an ice tea servant, filling my glass every time I took a couple sips.
My complaints would hold weight if their ramen wasn't so good.
Turn down the lights, turn up the drum music, and I'll be back!