Mon-Thu, 11am-3:30pm and 5pm-11:30pm; Fri-Sat, 11am-3:30pm and 5pm-12:30am; Sun, 11am-10:30pm
6 at Astor Pl.; N, R at 8th St.-NYU
American Express, MasterCard, Visa
The first American entry for a Japanese chain, Ippudo NY is a dark, bustling place with a surprisingly large modern cluster of dining rooms—once you push past all the young Japanese in the crowded bar area up front. Though the house-made ramen is the highly touted draw here—you can even see the noodles being made in a windowed chamber downstairs—the appetizers steal the show. The sinfully rich kakuni, a chunk of stewed fatty pork, melts in your mouth; beef tataki, thin slices of grilled ruby-red steak, is reason alone to get the chef's-choice appetizer plate. The ramen itself is excellent but not outstanding—the broth lacks richness and depth compared to the quality of the appetizers—and the somewhat brittle noodles are a little bit of a letdown. Still, the frenetically complex hodgepodge of the akamaru ramen, a bowl of noodles with red miso, black garlic oil, and ivory slices of Berkshire-pork, is a revelation.