18 February 2019
Ippudo, a Japanese restaurant in Causeway Bay, is a safe bet when you are looking for authentic Japanese ramen. Photos: HKEJ, Yesun
Ippudo, a Japanese restaurant in Causeway Bay, is a safe bet when you are looking for authentic Japanese ramen. Photos: HKEJ, Yesun

A bowl of the unexpected

One night, since I had to work until 9 p.m. at the office in Causeway Bay, I decided to treat myself to a bowl of ramen first. 

There must be dozens of Japanese-style eateries along Sharp Street West, Sharp Street East, Yiu Wah Street and Tang Lung Street. But most of them are a bit pricey.

I settled for Ippudo Hong Kong on Russell Street. It’s a fairly well known Japanese ramen chain restaurant under Maxim’s Group.

Their offerings are reasonably priced and give customers quite an authentic experience of the Japanese dish.

As I am almost always busy, it takes me no more than a fraction of a second to decide on what to order. 

But I can assure you that the process involved is as complicated as that worked out by a supercomputer.

So many factors come into play, including the diner’s mood, the dishes available, waiting time, prices, etc. And these things change all the time.

When my friends learned that I ended up at Ippudo, they were surprised that I didn’t go to Tamashii Japanese Noodle on Sharp Street West.

But even if I had thought about the place, I probably wouldn’t have paid it a visit as I didn’t have much time.

Second, there were too few offerings on the menu. As for the rest of the ramen restaurants, it was either I didn’t like their style or I didn’t find the dishes worth my while.

Unless I was going out with friends, I would only go for low price, high quality options.

What I miss most in Causeway Bay is MIST, which was superb in attitude and service, and offered sublime soup base.

However, the restaurant had left the market as the cost of running the business was too high. It’s a true loss for ramen lovers.

There’s no way to compare MIST with Ippudo. But Ippudo earns points for its customer-friendly prices, the quality of its products, and the not-too-awful waiting time.

Besides, the restaurant loves to introduce fresh menu ideas on a limited offer.

Each Ippudo branch offers a slightly different menu.

That night it was promoting the Easter special edition menu, which includes the “maza soba” at HK$78 per order. If you’re willing to pay HK$10 extra, you’d enjoy a bowl of “arrabbiata-style bacon with tomato and zucchini” on the side.

It’s hard to imagine what the dishes were just by reading their names. Anyway, tomatoes are not my cup of tea and so I went for the noodles.

Only when my order came that I realized it was a kind of soupless ramen!

I would have avoided the problem if I had paid attention to the word “maza”, which means “to mix”.

Well, it was a disappointment. Why? Because the reason I wanted ramen that night was I was craving a bowl of hot soup!

Ah, such is life.

This article appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on May 10

Translation by John Chui

[Chinese version 中文版]

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