Well well, I finally made it to Ippudo (Website, Yelp, Citysearch), the famous ramen place that everybody in New York can't stop talking about.
At Ippudo, PNGF and I actually got there at 8:00 and was told that it was going to be a 2 hour wait. TWO HOURS for ramen! Luckily, we've scouted out a movie we wanted to see nearby and 2 hours turned out to be perfect. When we returned at about 10:30, we were immediately seated. An hour later, I paid $65 for a 3-appetizer, 1-noodle, 2-drink affair (Sake, by the way, was very good thanks to the waitress' recommendation).
Verdict: Pretty good, recommended if you can somehow not wait 1.5 hours! Pity I didn't bring a camera... although I only found 1.5 dishes aesthetically appealing.
Food: Green peppers were absolutely delicious. I wish they used sea salt instead of some powdery salt - would have given the pepper a more balanced flavor. A good start to the meal. Next up were the famous pork buns. The pork itself was less fat (compared to its Shanghai original) and more tender. The bun was the same. I prefer the Shanghai version since the meat is juicier (thanks, fat!). Third appetizer were the pork ribs. It was delicious but not all that different from other ribs I've had. The Asian style doesn't require a lot of sauce so that was good since the flavor of the pork was retained. Otherwise, it wasn't all that special. Finally came the long awaited ramen: like the green pepper appetizer, this was absolutely delicious as well. The soup was light but full of flavor. The ramen was fresh (of course...). Slurping up the ramen with the soup (they give you a really really big spoon) felt very good, almost as if I'm back in Tokyo.
Alas, but I really wanted to talk about is the difference in philosophy that Asians and Americans have towards dinning.
Asians: we dine on the quality of the food that is served. We pay top dollar for top food and we scoff at a any deal TGIF has to offer. That's just the way it is. Would I pay $32.5 for ramen again? Probably not, unless it is a visitor who really wants to eat at Ippudo. I'm sure there are similar ramen places that can show me a good meal for half the price.
Americans: they dine on the quality of the dining experience. They'll pay top dollar for top service and atmosphere... and at-least decent food. Unfortunately, their palate just isn't as well trained as the Asian ones - we Asians, as a matter of fact, do grow up in households where all dishes are shared! And hence they are able to endure both a 2 hour wait (part of the experience!) and the price (novelty experience).