Sunday, August 1, 2010
Ippudo TAO opens at UE Square
I'm breaking from the Hong Kong travel series (I still have 16 more posts to go!) to bring you some Singapore news I'm quite excited about. Ramen chain Ippudo now has a second outlet here!
This surely is welcome news to fans who have been queueing at the first branch at Mandarin Gallery. Now we have a second location at which to enjoy the noodles.
This outlet is called Ippudo TAO, in partnership with TAO, a Japanese drum performance group that's taking the world by storm. They have been touring internationally, and performed at the 2004 and 2005 Edinburgh Fringe Festival (the world's largest arts festival). TAO was the only group to lead in ticket sales and their concerts were all sold out.
We were treated to a half-hour performance of TAO earlier at the DBS Arts Centre - and I can tell you, it completely blew me away! This is an unprecedented new genre blending drum, dance and musical theatre with martial arts. They infuse exceptional energy, rhythm, sensual grace, and passion into a precisely choreographed sequences. The music, inspired by nature, is delightful.
I hear these guys train 12 hours a day, and it shows. Even demanding movements flow with ease like second nature. The eye candy extends to the good-looking performers. The fluid costumes too, show off how lean and muscular the troupe is. They are as much athletes as they are artists.
It's interesting to see that there are women as lead drummers too. Pint-sized Arisa Nishi shows powerful charisma, strength and femininity all at the same time.
And of the men, Takuya Era's mastery of the long silver stick is stunningly awesome! That's him above (front right). Photo from The Herald Australia - do head on over and read how monastic TAO members' training can be! And yet they all look very happy and radiant performing on stage.
Above all, the strength, vitality and joy they present will amaze and inspire you. I really don't have words that can do them justice. You absolutely have to see them in person! I hope they come to Singapore for a full-scale concert.
Here's a promotional video. See also nine more samples of their live performances on MrDejimaru's Youtube channel. Ippudo TAO will also showcase performances by TAO on video screens at this outlet.
At the opening party, I had the pleasure of meeting Ippudo CEO Shigemi Kawahara, also known as Ramen King. The back of his name card says "Everyone's smile is a source of power." I like that very much.
But hey, ramen and taiko drums? What do they have in common, you might ask? Well, Ippudo and TAO both want to bring smiles and a sense of the Japanese spirit to the world. To convey smiles, vigor, courage and vitality. That I think they both share and do well.
Ippudo is also introducing kushiyaki (charcoal-grilled skewers) for its menu at this outlet. I thought they were pretty good. This pork-belly wrapped babycorn was juicy and crunchy at the same time. The pork slices (left) have got to be pork cheeks - they were so meltingly good! And the fried babycorn with seaweed is also an addictive snack.
Thanks to the kindness of strangers seated next to me (Hi Daniel, Ian and Amanda! Hope you are reading this!), I was able to take shots of all three ramen varieties available at Ippudo TAO. They include two new flavours that Kawahara-san specially created in honour of TAO.
TAO "Kuro" (Black) - Shoyu tonkotsu broth topped with Bara Chashu (pork belly), flavoured black fungus, spring onion, umami-dama (special blend miso paste) and garlic fragrant oil.
TAO "Aka" (Red) - Thin curly noodles in a tonkotsu soup blended with fish stock and spicy miso paste. Also has Bara Chashu (pork belly), spring onions and garlic oil.
The signature Ippudo "Shiro" (White) is the original tonkotsu soup with Hakata-style thin noodles, Rosu Chashu (pork loin), cabbage, black fungus and spring onion.
I ordered a TAO Kuro. I beheld it with reverence and took in the aroma in a long breath. The thick, chewy noodles form a good background to the robust broth. From the first mouthful, you know it's an excellent bowl of ramen. It's a deep, mellow enjoyment that lasts til the last drop (and then you want some more). That's what comfort food should be.
Wash it all down with some fine Sapporo draft beer! Always so refreshing. I am definitely coming back for more ramen and kushiyaki.
Big thanks to Cheryl of Ippudo for inviting me to this soft opening.
Ippudo TAO's official grand opening will be on 10 Aug. Please note their opening hours below:
207 River Valley Road
#01-55/56 UE Square (facing Mohamed Sultan Road)
Tel: +65 6887-5315
2-4 Aug: 11am to 3pm
5 Aug: 5pm til midnight (last order 11pm)
6-7 Aug: 5pm to 2am (last order 1am)
8 Aug: 5pm to 11pm (last order 10pm)
9 Aug: not listed, but let me check
10 Aug grand opening and thereafter:
Mon-Thur: 11am to 3pm; 5pm to midnight (last order 11pm)
Fri-Sat: 11am to 3pm; 5pm to 2am (last order 1am)
Sun: 11am to 11pm (last order 10pm)
© CAMEMBERU | All rights reserved.