Thursday, October 15, 2015

IVAN Ramen in New York

IVAN Ramen


Before I dish out my praises for Ivan Ramen in New York, a little criticism.
  1. The lighting in the garden is too dim to get a great photo of the ramen.
  2. The breakfast ramen, a mazesoba made with cheddar cheese and bacon, is only available for breakfast. I visited for dinner.
  3. A friend of a friend who joined us was disappointed when she met me; she thought she was going to meet David Chang.
Now that that is out of the way . . .


Ivan Orkin opened a few years back to much fanfare. There was a lot of hype about ramen at the time, and who better to blow up on the scene than a native New Yorker. A local boy who had kicked serious ass in Japan as the first white guy to really make an impact. The dude had worked in fine dining, then opened his small ramenya in Tokyo, and now he was ready to return.

Ramen had become cool, people had shown their interest, everything was just right.


The shop is seriously funky. Designer Claude Carril took a pop art approach to the shop, blending Japanese imagery with bold colors and a touch of Americana. Love it.


The menu is large, with eleven starters and seven different bowls. We sampled our way through a few things, with the Chinese greens and pork meatballs being some of my favorites.


But if you'd have to choose just one appetizer, go with the roast pork musubi. Bite-size bits of umami madness. The pork is juicy and meaty, the tomato acidic and fruity, and the salted plum sour. Kind of an amazing creation by Orkin.


If you are into cocktails, Ivan Ramen has plenty. I went with a chili-salt rimmed cucumber deal, while my friends tried some sansho flavored beer from Kagua.


And then the ramen.


I, of course, have eaten at Ivan Ramen in Tokyo many times. His ramen is simple, with hints of katsuo in the aftertaste. I had forgotten that katsuo, the basis of most Japanese cooking and what gives many bowls of ramen their intense umami flavors, is a rather rare ingredient outside of Japan. My friend asked what the amazing, smoky, fishy flavor was. For them, slurping at Ivan Ramen was an educational experience. Very cool.

This is where the shio and shoyu ramen shines; in their simplistic refined flavor.


I'm not happy with the photos in this post (see criticism point number one). Not only do they not do the food justice, but I forgot to take a decent shot of everyone's favorite bowl, the triple pork triple garlic mazemen. It's the junkiest bowl, a polar opposite to the shio. Ivan has always been on point with noodles, and though he now has them made for him at Sun Noodle, they are still a custom deal, brimming with whole grain.


Official site here.


Map of 25 Clinton St, New York, NY 10002, USA

25 Clinton Street New York, NY 10002
Closest station: Essex St

Open Monday-Wednesday :
Lunch 12-3:30pm
Dinner 5:30-11pm

Lunch 12-3:30pm
Dinner 5:30-midnight

Brunch 12-4pm
Dinner: 5:30-Midnight

Brunch 12-4pm
Dinner 5:30-11pm


Bert said...

I loved Ivan Ramen in Rokakoen, but was quite disappointed when I visited both his shops in NYC. I know his ramen is amazing when executed properly, but quality control seems to be a challenge in the States.

quang-tran dao said...

What's the story behind david chang? Who is he?

Brian MacDuckston said...

David Chang is a famous chef in America. He is the man behind the Momofuku brand. He has 300k Instagram followers, so someone who cares about that sort of thing would be looking forward to meeting him.

Unknown said...

David Chang is totally overrated and makes awful ramen. He's basically the P.F. Changs of the East Village. Ivan's ramen shops in the US are run by people who don't care about ramen thus the poor quality control.

Brian MacDuckston said...

I'm actually a fan of David Chang. His Ko restaurant is amazing, and his Lucky Peach magazine is quirky and fun. I agree, the ramen at his Noodle Bar is kind of weak, but overall I like what he is doing. #brownnosing

SactoMan01 said...

Brian, I think a problem with making bowls of ramen in the USA is that some ingredients you commonly find in Japan are not found in the USA (I believe it's not legal to import niboshi to the USA from Japan). You can get close to the Japanese taste, but not 100% there, at an American ramen shop.