Nearly three decades after Ippudo's first stronghold unfurled in Fukuoka, followed by an outpouring of outposts in Singapore, Seoul, Shanghai, Sydney, Hong Kong, Taipei & New York, the fabled ramen chain has sailed into KL, buoyed by mighty winds of anticipation.
Ippudo's current soft-launch week means shorter business hours, but everything on its full menu is available; epic lines of customers have coalesced outside this Pavilion outlet _ no shock, since Ippudo KL amassed over 2,000 Facebook fans even before opening.
Snatch a seat at the communal table or the open-kitchen counter, then relax _ the service team is spectacular, efficient with smiles & consideration at all times.
The signatures seize the spotlight, with three types of tonkotsu pork bone broths to choose from: classic Hakata-style white 'shiro,' red-hued 'aka' augmented with miso paste & garlic oil, plus the 'karaka' spicy interpretation.
Top notes of pork loin & belly crescendo in savory succulence, harmonious with lush eggs & noodles whose thinness belies the brio of their bite, in soup with rich, resonant chords of flavor.
Our recommendation might be the 'aka,' thanks to super-sumptuous pork belly that seems perilously close to melting on our chopsticks.
Each bowl costs RM26-RM36. Garlic freshly crushed at the table provides potent pungency.
The star attraction's the ramen, but the swath of side dishes deserve supporting player awards _ everything from the ubiquitous gyoza ...
... to unique offerings: gnaw-worthy, garlic-laced young corn, deep-fried with seaweed seasoning.
Pork belly cha-shu makes a welcome reappearance, braised in a steamed bun (RM7) ...
... & coupled with mentaiko, seaweed & shredded omelet strips on rice (RM11).
Steaming-hot: Minced pork & tofu with crispy noodles in hot stone pot (RM18).
Spicy-hot: Prawns with chili mayo dip (RM15), quite the visual treat.
Another advantage: Alcohol's abundantly available, from choya umeshu to yamazaki whisky ...
... to sake by the glass: Echigo No Amakuchi & Karakuchi (RM27 & RM25 respectively).
With Aussie, Argentinean & Chilean wines by the RM25 glass, there's no need to whine.
Hakata Ippudo Ramen,
Level 4, Pavilion Shopping Mall, Bukit Bintang, Kuala Lumpur.