Two of the biggest names in ramen team up for this American-inspired instant noodle flavor.
Popular Japanese ramen chain Ippudo originates from Fukuoka Prefecture, which is famous for its tonkotsu (pork stock) broth. But while tonkotsu is the style of ramen most closely associated with Ippudo, the company has shown itself willing to innovate as it globalizes, and for a brief time clam chowder ramen was offered at its New York branch.
That unique take on the beloved Japanese noodle dish is no longer on the menu in NYC, and was never served in Japanese branches. Fans still have one way to enjoy clam chowder ramen, though, as it’s now being sold in Japan in instant noodle form.
Dubbed Ippudo from New York Clam Chowder Noodle and priced at 213 yen (US$1.90), the noodles are actually produced by Cup Noodle maker/Final Fantasy XV fans Nissin, under guidance from Ippudo. The clam chowder noodles are available only at Japanese 7-Eleven convenience stores and associated Seven & I Holdings supermarkets, such as Ito-Yokado. Since going on sale on December 6, they’ve proven to be extremely popular, and when we stopped by our local 7-Eleven, there was exactly one pack left on the shelf.
We snatched it up, paid the cashier, and took it back to the office, where we peeled back the lid and poured in our hot water, then let the noodles cook for five minutes.
The noodles come with a packet of truffle oil, which seems to be a trendy flavoring to add to ramen thanks to it being a key ingredient at Tsuta, Tokyo’s first-ever Michelin-starred ramen restaurant. After our noodles had cooked, we stirred in the oil, and it was time to eat.
Following standard ramen tasting, we began by sipping a mouthful the milky white broth (despite the “Ippudo from New York” name, Boston, not Manhattan, clam chowder seems to have been the true inspiration). While it’s nothing like what we’re used to from traditional ramen, the broth is creamy and full of seafood flavor, with the aroma of truffles providing an elegant accent. The sharp black pepper notes provide a little extra kick, and also function sort of like a palate cleanser, preventing the taste from becoming tiresome.
The noodles for ordinary Ippudo ramen are thinner than many other ramen restaurants’ (another characteristic of Fukuoka-style ramen), but the clam chowder ramen comes with thicker-than-average noodles, to help soak up more of the broth. They’ve got just the right amount of pleasant chewiness, and as we chowed down on them, plus the bits of potato, onion, and bacon that are part of the package, we were thoroughly satisfied, and are happy to say that Ippudo is now two-for-two when it comes to American-inspired ramen.
[ Read in Japanese ]