Seeking Spice in Japan 4: Ippudo Ramen

Having fled a typhoon’s rain and looked around the Instant Ramen Museum, it was time to go for real ramen.

I had already seen people line up at Ippudo Ramen, on the same road as the museum.
On my way back into Osaka, then, I decided to stop and eat right there.

Ippudo Ramen Osaka, Ikeda
Ippudo Ramen Osaka, Ikeda

Spice up my ramen: Karaka Ramen

Ramen is, even more than the soba and udon I had before, a good food to seek spice. Like those other noodle (soup) dishes, it is typically accompanied by chile pepper and shichimi.

Unlike soba or udon, however, ramen may come spicy itself – and that’s what caught my eye at Ippudo: Their Karaka Ramen.

Ippudo Ramen Osaka: Karaka Ramen
Ippudo Ramen Osaka: Karaka Ramen

For this, the ramen broth itself is made with chilli oil and Japanese pepper. Or even more, for the menu puts it like this:

“Ippudo’s silken pork broth with spicy minced meat miso seasoned with a special blend of spices such as chili bean paste and sweet soy bean paste. The original chili oil with japanese pepper harmonize with the broth and create a clean finish and medium-thick straight noodles blend perfectly with the best taste of soup.”

This is more akin to Sichuan food than anything we would typically associate with Japanese food. And, not in that vein, but fittingly, you can choose what pungency level you want it at: Standard, 3 Spices, 8 Spices, Extra Spices or Ultra Extra Spices.

Ippudo Ramen Osaka: Menu
Ippudo Ramen Osaka: Menu

Extra, Extra

Having just come off a hiking trail, spending too much time in rainy weather, I decided it was time for “Extra Spices.”

Boy, it was extra.

It was nicely edible for me, but at the limit of what is still comfortable. The chili (oil) brought in pungency, the Japanese pepper added the zing more typical of Sichuan dishes…
It may still have been Japanese pepper, Sansho, indeed, as there was a bit less of the woodiness of Sichuan pepper and more of the lemon-like aroma of Sansho.

Definitely not for the faint-tongued. Rather, it had me thinking how easy it would be for the next noodle shop to claim to have the world’s hottest bowl of ramen (or similar).

In wise foresight, I had gone for the “normal” size and a side of gyoza, and it was good to be able to cool down my palate a bit that way.

Oh, and they brought a complimentary glass of ice water. A bit odd in the cool weather we were having (and given my China background), but it complemented that type of ramen very well. That is to say: It was needed ;)

Ippudo is a chain store, so you can come across their outlets in several places in Osaka and even internationally, e.g. in New York, London, Sydney…

Given that, I don’t want to share any detailed info; it is all too easy to find online, anyways.

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