Friday, November 14, 2008

Liquid Pork

I'd been hearing raves about Ippudo since it opened on Fourth Avenue last summer. It's an outpost of a Hakata ramen chain, specializing in the tonkotsu ramen that is a Hakata specialty. The cornerstone of this style of noodle soup is a rich pork bone broth. While Ippudo does serve other dishes, including miso and shoyu ramen, it's the two tonkotsu ramens that are the big draw: the Shiromaru Classic and the Akamaru Modern (which has the addition of a "special secret sauce"). I went with the classic on my first visit. My philosophy is always go with the classic on your first visit.

The noodles at Ippudo are thinner than most ramens, almost angel hair, and while quite good, the broth's the thing. I've had tonkotsu ramen before, but never with such a rich, porky broth as this. It's as if the Platonic essence of pork had been captured in liquid form. I found myself rolling the broth around my mouth to savor the full pig bouquet. The pork used at Ippudo is kurobuta, or Berkshire pork, which might be considered the pork equivalent of Kobe beef. The soup included a couple of slices of pork, but next time I think I'll go for the version with extra pork.

After I left Ippudo I decided to stop in at Sundaes and Cones, around the corner, for some ice cream. This is another place I'd heard good things about but hadn't yet tried. It's an Asian-American ice cream parlor, and my assessment is that while it's pretty good, it's not in the same exalted category as the Chinatown Ice Cream factory. I tried two flavors: mocha chip, one of my benchmark western flavors, and corn, an "exotic" flavor I was delighted to find. Some people find the idea of corn ice cream strange, but I think it's a natural. I first had corn ice cream in Malaysia, then in Oaxaca (more a slushy ice milk), and in New York at Cones, the Argentine gelateria on Bleecker Street. I preferred the corn ice cream at Sundaes and Cones to that at just plain Cones, which I found too sweet. Sundaes and Cones' version was closer to what I remembered from Malaysia.

Pork bone broth and two scoops of ice cream: a down-payment on a heart attack.

65 4th Avenue (between 9th & 10th St.)

Sundaes and Cones
95 E. 10th St. (between 3rd & 4th Ave.)

Ippudo on Urbanspoon


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