Before I dish out my praises for Ivan Ramen in New York, a little criticism.
- The lighting in the garden is too dim to get a great photo of the ramen.
- The breakfast ramen, a mazesoba made with cheddar cheese and bacon, is only available for breakfast. I visited for dinner.
- A friend of a friend who joined us was disappointed when she met me; she thought she was going to meet David Chang.
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.
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.
25 Clinton Street New York, NY 10002
Closest station: Essex St
Open Monday-Wednesday :