Kicking off IPPUDO’s 30th Anniversarywith a “Ramen Extravaganza”
IPPUDO celebrated its 30th anniversary on October 16, 2015. To mark the day, IPPUDO hosted a “Ramen Extravaganza” serving up 18,000 free bowls of ramen at selected shops throughout the country of its two better-than-ever signature ramen dishes, “Shiromaru Classic” and “Akamaru Modern”. The fact that ramen was being served free of charge made the headlines both on TV and on social media, but the point of hosting this event wasn’t just to make the news. This day had a special meaning in that IPPUDO’s 30th anniversary was a focal point for IPPUDO’s past and present.
WORDS BY SHOTA KATO (OVER THE MOUNTAIN)
Serving free bowls of its two better-than-eversignature ramen dishes,
Allow me to quickly introduce myself. My name is Shota Kato, and I have the pleasure of writing this newsletter. Well, there comes a time in everyone’s life or in the company’s history where we experience a memorable day that stands out from the rest, and by adding together every single unforgettable day, we grow to become a multilayered interesting person or company. I myself hope to become such a person as well.
October 16, 2015 was a special day in IPPUDO’s history. For Shigemi Kawahara, the founder of IPPUDO, the number “3” has special connotations. “3 is the key,” he often says when training his staff. Which is why a special event was held to mark 3 decades of IPPUDO’s ramen, and Shigemi Kawahara took the risk of redoing IPPUDO’s two signature ramen dishes, “Shiromaru Classic” and “Akamaru Modern”.
The first day of the 31st year was a chance to embark on a new adventure. As a sign of gratitude for all of the years of support, IPPUDO offered a taste of their newly reborn ramen to its customers and the local communities where the ramen shops are located at 30 of their ramen shops throughout the country through this “Ramen Extravaganza”. Every steaming bowl was an “arigato” – a thank you. For Ippudo, October 16, 2015 was such an unforgettable day.
So what changed with the “Shiromaru Classic” and “Akamaru Modern”?
Before I talk about the “Ramen Extravaganza”, I’d like to take a closer look at the secrets behind the better-than-ever “Shiromaru Classic” and “Akamaru Modern”.
Hakata Kinugoshi Tonkotsu (Hakata Silky Pork Broth)
IPPUDO’s specialty pork-based stock goes through a unique “double maturation process”, cooking for a good 18 hours in a specially-crafted soup pot, then being rounded off using a lower heat maturation method for another full day. The reason for this lengthy process is to be able to extract every last drop of the pork bones’ umami (savory taste) and to create a complex, multilayered flavor. This soup which is as smooth and mellow as silk was named Hakata Kinugoshi Tonkotsu (Hakata Silky Pork Broth). As its name suggests, the texture of the broth in the mouth is more velvety than ever while the oil and kaeshi tailored to the soup add to the overall smoothness.
The right noodles for the right soup
Noodles are just noodles, right? Actually not. Much like bread with the different varieties of whole grain, whole wheat, rye, multigrain and white, there are all kinds of noodles, and pairing the correct noodle shape can make a big difference in the overall eating experience, which is why the signature dishes, “Shiromaru Classic” and “Akamaru Modern” don’t use the same kind of noodles. The noodles used in the “Shiromaru Classic” are ultra-fine with a circular shape allowing for a smoother texture most suited to this particular ramen soup. The “Akamaru Modern” features thin, angular noodles so the deep richness of the soup interlocks with the noodles allowing for the savoring of a delightfully springy and chewy texture. Both types of noodles use a unique blend of wheat varieties interfusing “Ra Mugi” (so named as an abbreviation of ramen + mugi meaning wheat), a wheat variety from Fukuoka prefecture specially grown for use in ramen and “Kaze no daichi” (windy plains), a wheat variety specially grown for IPPUDO. After repeated trials, IPPUDO came up with the perfect noodle shape and taste to complement each kind of ramen dish.
The guardians of the “kaeshi”
In the ramen world, the all-important base flavor is known as the “kaeshi”. At IPPUDO, it is referred to as the “IPPUDO kaeshi masterpiece”, and uses a unique blend of a variety of soya sauces originating from Kyushu. This secret recipe is known only to the founder and chairman, Shigemi Kawahara and a handful of other trusted “kaeshi guardians”. This closely guarded secret is the result of two years of experimentation to revamp the kaeshi and enhance the depth of its flavor.
Have you tried IPPUDO’s chāshū?
If the broth, noodles and kaeshi are a cosmos in a bowl, the chāshū is a little piece of heaven. Chāshū is often written as char sui and probably conjures up images of roast pork. Not IPPUDO’s chāshū. While traditionally chāshū only uses pork belly, IPPUDO’s chāshū uses two sumptuous cuts of pork belly and pork shoulder. These two pork cuts are slowly simmered in a time-honored soya sauce-based braising liquid resulting in a flavor that you need to taste in order to believe. The ōdō no bara (royal road pork belly) provides a mouthwatering succulence where the pork just melts in your mouth while the ōdō no kata (royal road pork shoulder) has a pleasant, chewy texture where the more you chew, the more the juices and flavors pour out. You can enjoy these two pork cuts in one bowl. Double the enjoyment!
The oil and spicy miso in the “Akamaru Modern”
A new spin was put on the oil and spicy miso used in the “Akamaru Modern”. The original oil used an extract of a variety of vegetables, and the blending of extra virgin oil meant the oil was reborn to have a highly fragrant olive aroma. The original spicy miso used five different kinds of chili peppers to which the infusion of extra spices: yanninjan (Korean spicy paste) and doubanjiang (Chinese spicy paste) added an extra pizazz. The addition of sesame oil also infused the entire dish with a vibrant twist. Leading to even more depth to the “Akamaru Modern”.