A look into the history of Ippudo, a world-class ramen house coming to Manila
You know you’re getting yourself into something great when you learn that the mission of this international ramen phenomenon is to spread smiles and “arigato” (thank you) through bowls of ramen. Ippudo, whose roots trace back to Shigemi Kawahara’s humble beginnings in October of 1985, will soon bring this promised smile to many Filipinos—so be sure to sit back and brace yourselves for the best ramen you’ve ever tried just yet.
Kawahara was born and raised in Fukuoka City, the capital of Japanese ramen. Inspired by his mother’s cooking, he then set off to venture into the world of culinary delight. “Cooking is like life. I liken myself to being the consummate storyteller in the kitchen. Other chefs only bring out the taste, but taking in the five senses while making dishes completes the experience,” he explains. Kawahara was recognized as the “Ramen King” in 2005 and holds a place in the Ramen Hall of Fame after winning the championship three times in a row between 1995-1998, on TV Tokyo’s “Champion Ramen Chef.” His accolades have since poured in after he gained a strong following, earning him international acclaim in the New York Michelin guide, and over 60 branches spread across Japan. Ippudo has also been awarded the “Tokyo Ramen of the Year Award” in 2010-2011.
Perhaps the secret to Kawahara’s success lies in his passion to constantly reinvent himself. Ramen being an originally Chinese dish which the Japanese have sought to take and make their own, he believes that innovation is key to keeping this Fukuokan tradition alive. “You can create many different things with ramen, it has many possibilities. You can create many surprises and bring different joy to people.” Kawahara says. “My peers and I are always trying to outdo me and vice versa. We have a great passion and obsession centered on ramen and it drives us to create new dishes and heighten the ramen culture,” he adds.
In 2008, Kawahara has branched internationally and set up his restaurant in New York, which was then received with much praise. Ippudo in Singapore, Seoul, Hong Kong, Taipei, Sydney and Kuala Lumpur have been established since.
Here in the Philippines, Ippudo will settle into its new home at the 3rd Level of the Megamall Fashion Hall, right in the heart of the bustling Ortigas. The restaurant, with its own central kitchen dedicated to soup and noodle protection, it aims to dazzle and delight Filipinos with its quality dishes, dynamic ambience and impeccable service. The star of Ippudo’s menu are their classic Shiromaru Motoaji (tonkotsu ramen), Akamaru Shinaji (miso ramen), and Karaka-men (tantanmen). Other offerings include Hakata-style gyoza, karaage, and Ippudo New York’s bestselling pork and chicken buns. Filipino’s will also enjoy Ippudo’s signature rice dishes such as the garlic teppan chashu rice and the Hakata meshi.
With its authentic feel and commitment to serving only the best of the best, Ippudo will surely take you to a whole different level of ramen and true Japanese cuisine appreciation. In Kawahara’s words, “Ramen to me, is a whole. There is no single element that defines it alone, and I place equal emphasis on each ingredient that goes into a bowl of IPPUDO ramen.“ Without a doubt, Ippudo will be an experience like no other.