Photo by Jared Scharff

Ippudo, the no-reservations ramen hotspot in the East Village, has expanded to Hell's Kitchen, and Wednesday night they threw an invitation-only preview of the new Ippudo Westside at 321 West 51st Street. We weren't there, so we'll be standing on line with everyone else when it opens in July, but Saturday Night Live guitarist Jared Scharff was on hand, and we asked him to tell us about the vegan, gluten-free noodle soup that will be served there, called Shojin Ramen.

"As a self proclaimed 'ramen whore' or 'ramen enthusiast' (reads in my twitter bio) I have never experienced a ramen quite like it. The flavors felt like they came from another universe. The tomatoes were bursting with the brightest tomato taste I have ever witnessed. While I was a little nervous about the gluten-free noodle, I was happily surprised. Between the interesting flavor of the broth and unique umami profiles (land, sea and mountain) it was a dish that was highly entertaining and delicious."

It may not be the only vegan, gluten-free ramen in NYC, but it's certainly the only ramen with vegan, gluten-free gold leaves in it. (We're guessing that was just for the fancy preview party.) The NY Times notes that Ippudo’s "global noodle master" Fumihiro Kanegae spoke about the new offering, explaining: “In the East Village, I realized that some customers couldn’t have our ramen because they were vegan."

Ippudo Westside is set to open sometime next month.