If you’re looking for scrumptious Japanese ramen* in town, chances are you’ll get Hakata Ikkousha or Ikkudo Ichi as top recommended names to try. If you like either, most likely you’ll also like the other one because the two are so similar in terms of product (thin noodle) and taste (savory broth). They used to be standalone restaurants located in haven food areas like Muara Karang or Kelapa Gading; as the hype lives on and market grows, they’re branching out into more commonly found places like malls so now they should be much easier to find and come by.
I reviewed and raved about Ikkousha, then, which was in Muara Karang. The outlet was demised when i revisited it then heard and found out that it’s relocated to the hip PIK (Pantai Indah Kapuk) area, standing opposite its doppelgänger and allegedly biggest competition, Ikkudo. No idea which opened first, but the former’s space is (twice?) larger than the latter and is around triple the size of its Muara Karang humble outlet. The ambiance is more comfy and relaxed while the table setting is less huddled and more widely spaced thanks to its current sheer size.
I could still spot several Japanese men touring the floor…
…everything looks the same…
…until few moments later.
[Ikkousha’s: buta special 45K, buta miso 53K, tsukemen 48K]
Food-wise, for the most part it mirrors my opinions from two years ago though i believe the noodle is fatter and yellower. The broth tastes eerily similar to Ikkudo’s i’m so tempted to conduct blind testing if that’s at all possible — can’t decide which one’s better. You’ll realize how thick, sapid, oily, and salty the original broth is after you slurp the ‘light’ counterpart. The latter is too light that it’s near bland. If i were to put it, i guess Ikkudo’s buta signature is between Ikkousha’s buta special and buta special light – slightly below the aforementioned level of the former, that is. Its miso broth is even ‘heavier’ and leaves me with that sore-throat-y feeling afterwards.
However, I was letdown the moment my ramen bowl was served: the egg, especially the yolk, was almost thoroughly cooked. The one on my bowl then was so soft and tender I could almost slurp the yolk – that’s what I liked best about it. Now? Nah (read: huuuge disappointment). Another dang moment was when we’re informed that they serve cold ocha only. We were like, WHAT!! How can you not have hot ocha? What’s wrong with you!? Hot ocha is best to dissolve oiliness of ramen broth, no way I’ll resort to cold drinks. Well, they do serve (refillable) hot tea, but that makes me feel like I’m on a Chinese restaurant, not Japanese.
Third nay: its gyoza. Buta or tori, they taste different, for the worse. Can’t really explain why or what makes it so, but it’s bad. Ikkudo’s way better – plus they come with its own dipping. Idk if gyoza needs long cooking process because it’s always served while we’re at least halfway through our ramen bowl, not only here but also in other eateries. I don’t understand – isn’t it supposed to be the appetizer?
That’s on food. Let me proceed to my fave pet peeve: service. First of all, Idk why on earth can’t they inform us what’s unavailable before we’ve taken time to run through extensive menus and decide on what to order? They could’ve done so when placing the menu book on the table, for goodness’ sake! We’re there on Saturday noon and all they have were ramen, gyoza, and chicken karaage (vs. what’s listed on the menu).
Secondly, what’s with that sengak** attitude? Even if we’re there on discounted coupons, that’s not the kind of service you oughtta give to customers who pay for the meal AND service charges. If you dislike this line of work, then bloody hell—change job! I had to curb the urge to ask any of them, “Is possessing sour face the required personal attribute?” because even the waitress who’s been working for just a week brandishes such grating front. Too bad they wear no name tags or I’d be able to mention names.
We’re there to have a pleasant meal, that isn’t what we got on a couple occasions. How could we when we see passing staff with crotchety attitude, hear brusque voice booming through the room, and watch them clean tables and shove chairs grouchily? The time when the kitchen was lively and staff flocked vacated tables to remove the dishes in unison is now gone. Good food with bad service isn’t worth it. Good luck to you but we’re not coming back. At least not to that PIK’s branch.
*) given that you eat pork since its chicken-based soup is nowhere near the pork-based one
**) can’t really find the appropriate English adjective for it: will snooty or obnoxious or spiteful do?
Since i’ve already mentioned Ikkudo Ichi above and the taste is relatively similar, i’ll just post some of its spread here as well.
[Ikkudo’s: buta tantan (buta signature plus tantan sauce), buta miso, tonshabu, buta curry, beef curry rice, grilled gyoza]