Each month, a new eatery opens its doors to excited Great Neck food enthusiasts, a new cuisine is introduced and a new take on traditional recipes becomes the current best-selling item. This month’s latest addition is Ippon, a Japanese restaurant that specializes in ramen, a Japanese noodle dish popular for centuries.
Unlike many Japanese restaurants in the area, Ippon hopes to create an atmosphere most similar to an izakaya (a Japanese gastropub), with a full bar and dishes like yakitori (grilled skewers) and donburi (rice bowls).
Taking over the space Era occupied at 6 Bond St., the gastropub has kept the shape similar to its predecessor, with a full bar up front and a rather large dining room in the middle. The eatery is rather dark, with black chairs, dark brown tables, modern light fixtures and dim neon lighting throughout. Service is very attentive; all of the waiters made an effort to chat with our table and make our experience one that we would want to return for.
In order to accommodate Great Neck’s love of raw fish, Ippon has a full sushi menu, with more than 25 different sashimi cuts and close to 50 different rolls, costing from as little as $3.95 to $17.95. In addition to more common Japanese options, Ippon has introduced a yakitori menu consisting of more than 20 vegetable, meat and seafood skewers grilled over charcoal and glazed in a special sauce, ranging in price from $2.80 to $4.50 per skewer.
Appetizers served izakaya style consist of seafood options like oysters for $6 per half dozen and takoyaki (octopus balls), meat such as roast duck bun and chicken cartilage, and some vegetarian-friendly choices like soy milk tofu and homemade pickles.
Following appetizers, which range from $5 to $12.95, Ippon offers rice donburi ($8.95 to $9.50), a favorite amongst izakaya diners, which contain a choice of protein with onion and egg, typically stir-fried in soy sauce, along with specialty ramen ($12.95 to $13.95).
Seven types of ramen are available, including classic Tonkatsu (pork broth) with pork loin, barbecue pork, wagyu, seafood or pork chop, Chikin (clear chicken broth) and Shoyu (soy sauce broth), each served with seaweed, fish cake, bamboo shoots and braised egg.
I ordered the pork chop Tonkatsu ramen ($12.95), served with complimentary edamame. The broth had an incredibly rich flavor, with a rather pungent, salty miso taste and a savory pork essence. The noodles were cooked perfectly and absorbed the broth nicely. The pork, served on the side, was crunchy and well seasoned, but was elevated by the fermented, slightly sour bamboo shoots. We also tried the donkatsu ($13.95), breaded pork cutlets smothered in a spicy Japanese gravy. The pork was delicious alongside the slightly numbing sauce—spice can be lowered upon request.
With stellar food, pleasant decor and attentive service, Ippon is sure to stand out amongst both the large number of Japanese establishments and other local restaurants specializing in a variety of cuisines. The level of attention put into each element of the dining experience is rather rare in today’s food scene and will hopefully allow the eatery to attract customers from near and far to indulge in the unique food and enjoy a Japanese dining experience not found anywhere in the area.