the spot: Ippudo San Francisco 18 Yerba Buena Ln, San Francisco 94103
the eats: Akamaru (Tonkotsu) Ramen, Assorted Buns
the bucks: $20 for ramen, $17 for assorted buns(3)
the full nelson: ramen redemption more than three years in the making
Ippudo San Francisco isn’t too different from the NY location I tried back in 2019. The difference was really me. I went in with high hopes to the NYC location and wasn’t impressed. When it came to visiting Ippudo San Francisco in 2024, I walked in not only wanting to give the place a second shot but with a wiser ordering approach.
My visit to Ippudo San Francisco started with what I remember worked well last time: the buns. In 2019 I raved about the Pork Belly Bun. In 2024, I doubled down and did a flight of the buns.
There are chicken, shrimp, pork and veggie buns to choose from. I did two pork and shrimp and they were still as good as I remember. Worth every penny of the $17 I shelled out for them.
Ippudo ain’t cheap. But what is these days?
I’ve learned a lot about myself and ramen since I came to Ippudo NY in 2019. The main thing I learned is that I love Tonkotsu broth and that’s what I crave when I hear the word “ramen”. So that has become my benchmark and my wiser ordering approach: try the Tonkotsu.
Back in 2019 at Ippudo NYC, I let my adventurous side let the waiter steer me to something else. That was a mistake. And I have learned from it. Like Dave Portnoy who judges pizza in his famous “one bite reviews” by only sampling a cheese pizza, I judge ramen by Tonkotsu.
And the verdict? The broth was just rich enough(I like it creamy) and more importantly the broth had a lingering complex finish. On top of that, the pork chashu was the best I have ever had, including my experiences in Japan.
Yes, Ippudo San Francisco delivered ramen redemption and I feel confident that had I ordered that ramen at the NYC location I would have been equally satisfied. At least I think. Both instances I tried the chashu and while chashu is always delicious, the quality of the pork belly in chashu at Ippudo San Francisco was without equal.
I might do some more digging but it might be worth noting that California passed a law in 2018 that just now went into effect banning breeding pigs to be raised in confined spaces. The best pork I have had involves the best farming practices and I wonder if the law helped usher the sourcing of better farms?
I can’t say for sure. But I can say Ippudo San Francisco achieved ramen redemption. And serving the best pork chashu I’ve ever had didn’t hurt either.