Ippudo (Sylvia Park, Auckland, New Zealand)
I got excited when I saw there was an Ippudo in Sylvia Park this is because I had a good experience with this restaurant chain when I visited Sydney many years ago, their ramen was so good, it reminded me of the ramens I had in Japan. We rarely visit this part of Auckland nowadays compared to before, many years ago, this was one of the only mall destinations in Auckland but nowadays we have the one in Albany and Northwest which is way much nearer from where we live.
Several weeks ago, we had a chance to visit this place as I am searching for an item that I can only buy in this mall. This place certainly did change a lot since we were here three years ago according to Google Maps. Three years ago, this place was only single level on one side, now it is two and there are tons of shops added, there is also a new food court area on the second level. After our short shopping we started looking for a place to dine in and we choose Ippudo since we feel like having some Japanese at that moment.
If I can remember correctly before this became Ippudo, it was Wagamama but sadly that place closed down many years ago. This place was large, we loved the interior decoration. On one side the wall is filled with red and white bowls, then on the other it was lined up with ceramic soup spoons. Lighting was really nice which sets up a really nice mood. The place was half filled so we did not had issues in finding a table for us.
They have a variety of options when it comes to ramen, five to be precise plus one soba. Although we wanted to try all of that we opted to give their offering a shot, so we only grabbed one ramen type which was the Bonito Tonkotsu (NZ$20.00), it is prepared with Ippudo’s Original Creamy Tonkotsu broth blended with bonito dashi, medium-thin straight noodles, pork loin chashu, bean sprouts, flavoured bamboo shoots, spring onion, chopped leeks and half flavoured egg.
Another item on the menu that caught our attention was their Wagyu Steak Don (NZ$22.50), I was intrigued that it can be sold at this price, so we gave that a go. Their menu says it is made with Premium Wagyu Beef, takana, snow pea sprouts, 63°C egg, noritama, fried garlic and our homemade sauce on a bed of rice.
We also grabbed some Salmon Poke Gohan (NZ$8.00), made with Fresh salmon slices, avocado and poke don sauce. We wanted to see how this compares to our favourite poke place, Poke Poke.
For the side we grabbed two options first was the Pork Bun (NZ$7.00), apparently this is their international best-seller, Ippudo’s signature melt-in-your-mouth chashu, accompanied with crisp iceberg lettuce and creamy mayo nestled in a soft fluffy bun.
And our second side was the Chicken Karaage (NZ$11.00/5 pcs), made with Marinated and fried chicken thigh with shichimi pepper mayonnaise.
Now for the verdict. Let’s go with the good ones first. Chicken Karaage, this one was the best of our orders, quite tasty, has some nice crunch on it, the only thing it was quite oily. The pork bun was good as well pork was so soft, it was melt in your mouth but if it was seasoned more than it would have been amazing rather than good. Size was small too, so you need at least a couple of this to be satisfied. Ramen was good as well; the broth was nice and rich, and the noodles was prepared the way I requested them as firm.
Now for the no so good parts. First of all, what we noticed on three of the dishes the Bonito Tonkotsu, Wagyu Steak Don and Salmon Poke Gohan there was a distinct taste of bitterness on all of them, it was not as evident on the ramen but int the Poke and the Don they were quite strong. I am not sure where it is coming from, but they are unpleasant at times. I was also disappointed with the Wagyu Steak Don specially that they marketed it as a Premium Wagyu Beef, that was nowhere premium, even if it was the lowest grade one, I felt it was not wagyu. It was tough and chewy even though it was cooked medium rare, I can make Pak’nSave Rump steak even tender than what we had here. If it was not marketed as Wagyu, I guess I would not expect.
Overall, apart from the hip looking place, the food we had was not as I expected. Like I said I tried the ones in Sydney, and it was not near to what we had in here. There are good things but there are a lot of negative things that negated all that good things that we had. Hopefully this was just a mistake on that certain day and time because on paper this place has a lot of nice dishes to offer.
Ippudo Sylvia Park
Address: N065 Sylvia Park, 286 Mount Wellington Highway, Mount Wellington, Auckland 1060, New Zealand