Restaurant: Ippudo Santa Monica
Location: 1403 2nd St, Santa Monica, CA 90401
Date: January 17, 2019
Cuisine: Japanese Ramen and Buns
Rating: Buns were very good, ramen decent
Ippudo is a very well hyped Japanese ramen chain moved to New York. Oddly they are owned by Panda Express (which is trying to move upmarket). They announced (and presumably signed a lease) taking over the old Taberna Arros y Vi space over two years ago!
So finally, after months of being up but not open, they finally do open. Took me a bit to get in too after all that time, but a really rainy day drove me in.
This is a weird (and overly large) space on 2nd street. And although the street is being taken over (finally) by lunch options this space has a bizarre side entrance and poor visibility. Neat brick building though.
The interior is enormous and nicely built out for a ramen joint.
They have a bit of a bar too, but not super big. They are pretty organized.
The menu is basically buns and a variety of ramen. I had to try both.
Trio of buns.
Pork Bun. Pork Belly with special BBQ sauce and mayo. This was a good one. The fatty belly meshed perfectly with the soft bready bun (and its light sugar content). The mayo just seamed it all together.
Yakiniku Bun. Sliced beef cooked in Japanese BBQ sauce and mayo. This was the weakest of the three and didn’t taste like Yakiniku at all, more like that steamed meat that is often found in udon. I’m pretty sure they don’t grill it.
Ebi Katsu Bun. Deep fried shrimp katsu with spicy chili mayo. This was pretty good though, like a fried shrimp sandwich Japanese bun style. Lot ‘o carb though.
Karaka Spicy Ramen with egg. The original Tonkotsu pork broth with an added kick, thin noodles topped with our special blend of hot spices, fragrant garlic oil, pork belly chashu, bean sprouts, kikurage mushrooms and scallions. For my first ramen here I didn’t load it up (only adding the egg). The broth had a nice flavor. It was pretty straight tonkotsu, but good. The noodles were a touch thin for my taste, but classic ramen noodles. I got them al dente and they were. The chasu was good but not a ton of it. The spicy meat and oil was actually pretty spicy and did add some nice kick. I debated asking for some vinegar to add acid, but didn’t bother.
Overall, the build out is large and very attractive. Service was great and the place is slick and clean.
I really liked the buns, particularly the pork bun. The ramen too was very good, if a touch “straight up.” After Killer Noodle, I have a hard time with any ramen that isn’t incredibly intense. For me it sets the standard by not even really being ramen, instead closer to dan dan mein.