At 11:30am on Thursday the 23rd of September, Ivan opened his second shop. Although I had sampled it a week prior, I had the most untraditional item on the menu, the cheese mazemen. It was time for the true test.
It's time for Ivan's special ramen.
Sold out?!? Just kidding. Not sure what this option was for, maybe future seasonal dishes. I went with the ramen. So did my ramen posse for the day. Two ramen fans visiting from the States, my new Japanese friend, and Keizo. 5 bowls of ramen (and an extra mazemen for Keizo).
The shop is full of new equipment. Roast, broil, steam... but does it help make good ramen?
This bowl is very unique. At his original shop, Ivan strays from tradition and uses almost no pork in the soup (the chicken bones are roasted in some pork fat if I remember correctly). At Ivan plus, he takes it even further, omitting the chicken as well. This is strictly a fish and vegetable stock. If you've ever had a bowl of udon noodles, you know the taste.
But knowing Ivan, he took it a step further, with a bit of the west thrown in for good measure. At first, I couldn't place it. Then a little voice in my head told me. Or maybe it was Keizo. Anyways, there's a hint of cheese. Ivan confirmed this, and actually there is cheese in almost every menu item.
Ramen without pork, with an essence of cheese? Is it ramen? In the traditional sense of the word, not really. But thats what trends are for! A recent trend in the Tokyo ramen world has been cafe-style ramen shops. Light soups, stylish interiors, healthy options. See the oft mentioned Girl's Ramen Club magazine for a long list of cafe-style ramen shops.
A traditionalist, who longs for the nostalgic days of a tiny old shop serving shoyu ramen, might not be pleased with all this new stuff. But for me, I wouldn't have it any other way.