By Alexander Voeler
Ippudo Ramen is a chain restaurant where you get your full money’s worth in a ramen experience. I had it recommended by a friend, but did not try it until recently, and it was when I went there that I saw something interesting. Apparently, the particular restaurant that I went to is famous for their half-size ramen.
This specific Ippudo restaurant is located in the Shinjuku Lumine Est building on the 7th floor. This is the restaurant floor, so you might have to look around a bit to find Ippudo in the crowd of other restaurants. Besides this, you might end up having to wait 10-20 minutes in line if you come around evening. However, if you are used to dining out in Japan, this will most likely not be something new.
When I was outside the restaurant and first saw the Ippudo sign, I knew it was the place, but something was different. The “I” in Ippudo was replaced with a “1/2” character. Now, initially I did not quite grasp what the meaning behind this was, but I did not think further about it and lined up in the queue in front of the restaurant. It was when I entered the restaurant and had a look at their menu that I realized what it had meant. You can choose between a full-size and a half-size bowl of ramen.
I was quite hungry, so I chose the full-size bowl. However, all around me I could see that the half-size bowl was a popular choice. This is understandable, firstly because you can enter the restaurant and get the right amount food even if you are not starving, or if you just do not eat that much. Secondly, because the menu offers delicious side dishes such as regular gyoza and steamed gyoza that diners may also want to try. Besides this, it appears to be the norm in Ippudo that you are able to choose the hardness of your noodles. This mixed with the option of being able to choose the size of your ramen, leaves you with a few ways to customize your dinner at Ippudo. Furthermore, you can also choose to make a set meal, for an additional ¥500.
I personally thought the ramen was quite delicious, and worth the money put out. However, it was definitely the customization opportunities which gave the place an interesting twist. On a personal note, I really enjoyed having steamed gyoza on the side.