Ippudo’s Ramen. Tonkotsu, one of the most popular ramen varieties, derives from Hakata, Japan.

The latest New York addition to the world-renowned Ippudo franchise, Ippudo 5th Avenue features a classy yet minimalistic interior that provides a well-suited escape for the busy New Yorker. Rather than our traditional tonkotsu broth, this location uses our kasane-aji, or “layered taste,” broth with a rich blend of chicken and pork. Made over three stages of careful preparation, our kasane-aji broth boasts a smooth, milky and silky texture while maintaining the savory flavor of tonkotsu with unmatched depth.

We decided to interview Ayumi Hatai & Jan ‘Jonjon’ Umbao, Management staff of Ippudo NY because of their involvement with bringing intention and integrity to noodles in NYC.

Q. You have been described as “the most famous tonkotsu ramen shop in the country”. With all the ramen places in NYC what is IPPUDO doing that makes you different from other shops?

A. So, I think what we try to do different here is just remain consistent. We’ve opened three stores in the past decade, but each one always stays the same too. It’s dramatic and there’s a lot of showmanship when you come in. So, that’s something we’ve always comfortably focused on every day, every shift. It’s something we like; remain uniform.

Q. Can you tell us what’s your “secret sauce”? Do you think it’s the broth?

A. Well. Tonkotsu, one of the most popular ramen varieties, derives from Hakata, Japan. It’s slow-boiled over 20 hours using a secret house specialty process, Ippudo’s signature tonkotsu pork-broth ramen features a distinctly silky and delectably savory broth unique to any other tonkotsu soup. The dish is served piping hot, so we advise to please indulge with caution.

Q. For those who don’t know, you are often yelled at when you come in the door. What’s that about?

A. So we’re shouting to welcome ようこそ the customer, to show them acknowledgement. We’re trying to get them excited. Make them feel like they’re glad to be here too. And it also adds to the drama that we like to have for our customers.

Q. If a first time customer comes in and want to know what your noodles taste like, what would you say?

A. (Jan ‘Jonjon’ Umbao.) As cheesy as it sounds, I was in heaven. I was like, ‘Damn, this is the best bowl of ramen I’ve ever had’, and I’ve never felt that way with other restaurants, other ramen places.”

(Ayumi Hatai )”It’s euphoric. You’re getting that salt and sweetness. Yeah. Every shift we’re tasked to try the broth and make sure that it’s euphoric. And if it isn’t, we have to figure out why.”

Q. So at Ippudo you guys are part of the ‘clean plate club’, which means you know guys don’t allow customers to take any leftovers home. Why is that? Are there spies in the soup world?”

A. I think it’s all down to quality. As soon as your bowl of ramen is made, theres a certain timeframe or window, you can enjoy the ramen to its full potential. Even if we see a customer eating ramen in here and it’s been sitting longer than two minutes, we asked them if they would like to change.

Q. You are known for noodles but I heard you might be adding to menu. What should we expect?

A. Yes, we recently added to our menu. We changed our appetizers. We’re trying to focus on not just a restaurant where you eat ramen, but to actually enjoy entrees too. We’re trying not to be identified just as a ramen shop, but as a restaurant as a whole. We’re kind of going back to the Japanese traditional appetizers. We’re actually doing Sushi rolls and adding a Japanese traditional egg omelette to the menu, as well as tempura and premium sliced beef you grill at the table. Some new items are Hamachi Carpaccio, Miyazaki Wagyu Tobanyaki and Salmon Saikyo-Miso Yaki. Keep up with IPPUDO NY on Facebook and IG.

By Caspar Zhou, Ramen Route App