Saturday, July 5, 2014

Ippoudo Ramen in Nancy, France

One thing I'm sure of is that - there is a God and he is good! Just a few days ago, I was having possibly the worst restaurant experience this year (click here for the post) and here I am today in yet another Asian restaurant but experiencing the total opposite! For those who don't know me yet, I grew up in the Philippines and lived there up until 2 years ago. I had a great life prior to moving to France despite the family tragedies and what else. Living in France is different in all aspects, but it's great too. It just needs getting used to which I guess is pretty normal when you've lived 18 years in one place and have really only known that. Anyways, as much as my Dad made sure to live the French way in the Philippines, I grew up eating and loving Filipino dishes. It's really a shame that it's not as popular as others. To me, the Philippines is a result of different cultures, different ways of life, and different influences and the Filipino cuisine is a melting pot of flavors. But that's not the only cuisine I got to discover there. Because if there's one thing that the Philippines is great at is the way they embrace neighbors and how open they are towards new things. Which is something that I struggle daily here. While in France it is common to hear "no" to trying new things, a Filipino will most likely say "let's give it a try".

Anyways, like I was saying, the Philippines has this amazing trait of acceptance. Because of this, I didn't grow up just eating Filipino food, but I was also able to discover the cuisine of the neighboring countries - China, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Japan, just to name a few. Some of my favorite dishes were from countries that I haven't visited yet (although I do wish to someday!). And I've missed it. Some days are truly harder than others. Especially since I don't live in Paris, which I assume has more choices than in the eastern part of France. So you can just imagine how pleasantly surprised I was to see that there was a Ramen place that opened in Nancy. I absolutely love Ramen!! While there are quite a number of Japanese restaurants in the region, this is and I'm serious the ONLY Ramen restaurant around here. Which is probably why a lot of people here equate Japanese cuisine with Sushis only, but there is much more than Sushis, Makis, and Temakis in the Japanese culinary world!

A couple of months ago, I suddenly had a huge craving for Ramen, but I couldn't find any. Well, lest I go to Paris, but that wasn't gonna happen. Then I saw online that apparently a new Ramen place opened up in the last months in Nancy and it was getting good reviews. The photos online had me salivating and I just knew what I had to do next. It was either gonna be a miss or a hit, but I had to find out myself.

After about an hour of driving, we found ourselves at lunch time in front of Ippoudo Ramen in Nancy, France. If the cuisine was going to be as authentic as the decors then I think we were in for a definite hit, I told myself with a huge giddy smile on my face.

The whole walking in the restaurant experience was just love. As soon as I entered with my right foot first, I felt myself transported to Japan. The human senses are very powerful tools.

We hesitantly proceeded further into the dining room, crossed the bridge, and found an even bigger dining room with an open kitchen.

The dining area was decorated in dark brown and white colors with Japanese accents here and there. It was pleasantly dimly-lit, there was the faintest hit of Japanese music in the background, and the wonderful scent of broth simmering from the kitchen.

Where the ramen magic happens!

Funny thing is that I was so into the whole feeling the vibe experience that I just ordered off anything we liked off the menu without even bothering to look at the prices! I was just into the moment and I wanted to make the most out of it. Luckily for me, it turned out that the prices are pretty reasonable and we paid about the same price we usually do when the 3 of us dine out.

*I brought home a copy of the menu and I've been looking at it several times in the past hour. I tell you - I think I'm hooked!

Complimentary water (served in a really nice glass bottle!)

Edamame - 3,50 Euros 

We started our meal with a small plate of Edamame, Japanese soybean, that is often eaten as a snack. The pods are boiled and salted, but one only eats the beans inside and tosses aside the empty pods. For me, Edamame can be best described as "nutty" and "buttery".

Gyoza - 6,00 Euros 

Perfectly steamed dumplings filled with minced pork, cabbage, and chives. These are the best Gyozas I've had so far in France.

Ebi / Shrimp Tempura - 11 Euros

Perfection again. I began to wonder if there was anything that wasn't good here?!
This was served with what seemed to be a Sriracha-Mayonnaise sauce which went perfectly with the fried shrimps.

Tonkuso Beurre Mais - 10,90 Euros

The star of the show and basically the reason why we came here.
Made of Tonkuso Shio broth, spinach, naruto, leeks, monggo sprouts, bamboo shoots, pork slices, egg, nori slices, butter, and corn, it was what I was craving for! Although the egg was more overcooked than I preferred, I didn't mind at all. I had a little chat with the lovely owner who was serving us throughout the meal and she said that they have no specific ramen recipe. It's basically the chef that does his thing and adjusts it to his taste every time. Well, kudos Mr. Chef, you have excellent taste! :)

During our chat, the owner mentioned that they were previously living in Paris and had a restaurant there too. They decided to sell their restaurant due to various competitors in the area and moved here. What a great idea, I told her. Problem is, because they only offer Ramen and a few other dishes, their customers are limited. In fact, a lot will ask if they make Sushi and when they say that they don't, they transfer to another restaurant. I wonder if they will do something about it. Like I said earlier in this post, there is more than Sushi and Maki to Japanese cuisine and I personally think it's better to make 1 or 2 dishes perfectly than 20 mediocre ones. I really hope that this place will survive, especially with summer coming up. I will be certainly be back. Perhaps not every week as my wallet won't be able to take it, but I'll definitely be back!

Edamame- 3,50 Euros
Gyoza- 6,00 Euros
Ebi Tempura- 11 Euros
Tonkuso Beurre Mais- 10,90 Euros
TOTAL: 31,40 Euros 

For contact details, please click here.


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