ippudo ramen in kl

8:42 PM sians 0 Comments

it was about two months ago when i first saw its picture on instagram. 

i was tempted. 

as i read more about it, i was convinced to try it as soon as i could find a food buddy. 

actually i first heard about it almost a year ago. i was researching on the food scene in tokyo to complete my food itinerary, ramen was on my must try and this place was one of the two options i had a hard time picking out. (funnily we ended up not having either lol cos {ym} recommended her fav, which was located in tokyo station)

i was a tad disappointed when i missed out while i was in tokyo. i also missed out on the opportunity to try it out while i was in nyc since one of the branches was opened in the big apple..i suppose you could say third try is the charm

i've been waiting far too long, ippudo :) omg it's finally happening! hehe.

located in pavilion, it is actually NOT in tokyo street. instead, it is situated next to nike and chatime on pavilion's restaurant row aka 'connection' section. since my introduction to pork broth ramen noodle, which is ippudo's signature ramen, it's my number one ramen to go to these days over shoyu and plain miso. (so yeah, this restaurant is definitely NOT pork free)

the decor was a modern take with an asian twist with main hues of wood, red, black and white. the bowls and spoons are used as decor pieces, which i thought was rather cool. there is also the option of sitting at the counter where you can watch the chefs hard at work. one thing i was not too keen of was there were a few communal tables that i think should not be adopted by restaurants anymore because of the awkwardness of dining with strangers.

from my research about ippudo, the one to try was akamaru and if i were gonna do it, i was gonna do it right. surely, the special was what i would go for so i could try different aspects of the chef's mastery.

ippudo original tonkotsu :: akamaru special {赤丸スペシャル} | akamaru with flavored egg, pork belly & seaweed (rm 36)

as ippudo describes akamaru as "ippudo's original tonkotsu broth enhanced with a special blended miso paste and fragrant garlic oil. served with thin noodles, belly chashu, kikurage and spring onions. a refined, modern-style ramen."

tonkotsu broth means pork based broth. let's start with it since we are on the subject - it was rather flavorful, packed with pork sweetness mingled with miso paste with a hint of garlic and whispers of heat. the broth was rich, smooth and a fullness in a deliciously balanced way but i have to agree with {mw} that it was borderline salty. a lil greasy yes, but expected and comparatively less greasy than the other tonkotsu ramens i've tried.

when u place your order, the server would ask how firm you'd like the noodles to be ranging from soft, firm or hard, where i went for firm. noodles are what makes a bowl of ramen. i could taste the freshly made noodles and it was cooked well.

when i saw pork belly on the menu, i just had to try it out cos i've been missing pork belly for a while now. however, i was a tad disappointed because despite the fat on the pork belly,  the meat didn't fall apart like how i would imagined it. in fact, it was almost a little dry - which i found surprising. i wished it could have been seasoned a little more.

the final thing that would complete the ramen ensemble is the seasoned egg. this seasoned egg while cooked very well, it lacked the marination in shoyu like a few other seasoned eggs that i've had before.

overall, the bowl of akamaru ramen noodle was not mind blowing but it was yummy that i'd like to return for a second time - perhaps to try something else to see how it compares. although the serving was big that i was stuffed at the end of the meal, i have to admit that the price of the noodles is steep so i might have to think twice before going back. regardless, give it a try if you are in town and are in the mood for some hakata tonkotsu ramen :)

ippudo malaysia | locations

lot c4.07.00, connection level 4,
pavilion kl, 
168, jalan bukit bintang
55100 kuala lumpur, malaysia

{yummy-ness | 3.5 forks out of 5 }
{worth trying | haven't tried enough to give
 a calculated recommendation}

disclaimer this is written based on personal experience and opinion. experiences and taste buds may vary for others.


{tokyo} maisen

8:20 AM sians 0 Comments

when we speak of japanese food, our minds would typically fleet towards sushi rolls, sashimi, shrimp tempura udon, ramen or perhaps teriyaki bento boxes. most japanese restaurants here serve a mish-mash of their popular dishes that we all know so well.

when i visited tokyo last year, i noticed one thing different about the food scene in japan, which i love - the opportunity to taste particular japanese fares at dedicated, specialty shops; each focusing on a narrow slice in the wide spectrum japanese cuisine variety.

one particular japanese dish that deserves more recognition globally than it has now is the 'simple' yet complex scrumptiousness, that is tonkatsu. tonkatsu is a deep fried, breaded pork cutlet, usually served with a thick and tangy sauce (tonkatsu sauce), shredded cabbage and miso soup.

considering my visit to japan was a short one, i have to admit that deep fried, breaded pork isn't what i'd typically choose to eat since it could be greasy and heavy and that might put a damper on the day.

but... my food itinerary planning revealed many foodies' experiences at this specialty shop dedicated to just tonkatsu was 'life-changing' and 'the best thing ever!' its name was maisen and i was curious if it would do the same for me.

finding the place was quite a challenge although i had a map printed out and read tips online on how to find the spot.  even though there were multiple little signs along the street lamps, i had to get into the right area first lol. its location is hidden behind the omotesando hills shopping complex, not too far from harajuku.

we were so thrilled when we finally found our first sign and after that, searching for the restaurant was a breeze.  smiles were carved on our faces when we found the restaurant cos we were tired and were growing quite hungry.

the restaurant is uniquely homed in a former dressing room of a public bath house with high ceilings. they kept some of the original architectural details which gave an old school kind of feel.  

maisen's signature dish is  the kurobuta tonkatsu (literally 'black pork'). kurobuta is known for its high fat content and intense juicy flavor, which can only mean good things when its breaded and deep fried.

now the question was to get the kurobuta loin {rosu} or fillet {hire} cutlet. the price tag for both is a tad hefty at ¥2,470.  we were interested in tasting the difference between the two hence ordered one of each although the loin is the way to go since it has more fat.

with no knowledge of the japanese language, we attempted to order using just our our body language and very little english. hehe which consists of mostly pointing at the pictures on the menu. :)

as the first item arrived - a mini cup filled with a shaved daikon garnished with a few strands of katsuobushi. we stared at it, confusion and intrigue stamped on both our faces prompting the waitress sharing with us to add some shoyu before trying it.

i took a small taste, and then another - nope, this was not something i could get use to. to the side it goes.

when our meal was served, it was a thing of beauty.

it came with a mountain of shredded cabbage, a side of pickled vegetable, light yet nice miso soup and a bowl of rice.

not quite knowing where to start, i topped the pork with a bit of the tonkatsu sauce and took a bite out of one of the loin pieces.

the first bite started with the crunchiness of the panko crust without harboring any hint of greasiness. then i sank my teeth into the juicy, perfectly seasoned with intense flavor of pork encased in the golden brown jacket. it amazed me how the crust did not fall apart from its meat. what is seemingly a simple dish, to make it as perfectly as they do is a feat as maisen's expertise shone in what i would call the best tonkatsu i've ever had so far!

there was only a very slight difference between the fillet and loin - the loin had a richer flavor to it (not in the way that may weigh you down) while the leaner fillet had a cleaner taste to it. i actually enjoyed having half of the loin and the other half fillet as i swapped some with {rmc}. oh, if you like to have more shredded cabbage, you can ask for refills.

maisen's mastery and awesomeness is unrivaled that it has made on of my top eats of 2012. my finishing the whole plate of deep fried pork cutlet that is testament of the amazing techniques the chef possesses. (deep fried food that is not greasy.. like whattt?!) AND considering it was my first meal in tokyo, this was a great introduction to my japanese food adventure. i'd be back at maisen in a heartbeat if i ever find myself in tokyo again :)

so was it 'the best thing ever'? i'd say so! oishiiii! :)

maisen | locations

4-8-5 jinguemae,
tokyo, japan

{yummy-ness | 4.5 forks out of 5 }
{worth trying | any tonkatsu
but kurobuta pork is recommended}

disclaimer this is written based on personal experience and opinion. experiences and taste buds may vary for others.