For today’s Travel Tuesday, I am taking you to New York City and Ivan Ramen. Located at Gotham West Market, which is like a food court but with eight really really nice food booth restaurants, in Hell’s Kitchen, Ivan Ramen is the brainchild of Tokyo Ramen Master Ivan Orkin. If you’re thinking that does not sound Japanese at all, you’re right. He’s an American, but lives in Japan (it seems he fell in love with Japan when he went there to teach English in the 80s and has never looked back). He even has a ramen joint there in Japan- and the only place to get his ramen outside Tokyo is in New York, at one of two locations. One of them is the Slurp Shop here at Gotham West Market.
I was fascinated by the idea of a foreigner being able to break into the food scene in Tokyo, particularly with something as beloved as ramen. Ramen can differ by region – and in fact there are even Ramen Museums. Yes, entire museums… and more than one museum. You can also take a bath in ramen. I don’t really have anything to say about that, if only you could see my face when reading that article though… anyway.
So in New York, off I went to Ivan Ramen. I had been eating a progressive meal every day I was in New York, and honestly was about to go to dinner at Todd English Food Hall after this stop (and I had eaten earlier at Chelsea Market), so I told myself I would only eat half the bowl. But… yeah I ate the whole thing. The kitchen was pretty busy when I arrived, with most of the seats taken at the tables and bar countertop. Thankfully, shortly after I ordered at the register, some bar seats opened and I had a chance to carefully study the Art of the Slurp illustrated at the countertop of Ivan Ramen.
I was not shy about adding all the garlic oil in the container. Look at how beautifully cut those scallions are. What makes Ivan’s ramen different than most you might try in the US is that he does a double soup, where they combine two broths to create a balance of flavors in the ramen bowl.
If you visit Ivan Ramen, rest assured that he has vegetarian ramen available from his menu of about half a dozen noodle options. The only thing you should definitely be aware of is that the ramen is not cheap – it starts at $13, not counting any add ons or making it fully loaded like I did. As with all ramen, it’s always good to eat it relatively quickly because you don’t want the noodles to get too soggy as it absorbs the broth. I also recommend grabbing a glass of water for yourself – often just drinking the broth is enough for me, but it was a bit on the salty side for me so I needed the water as well.
Besides ramen, there are also rice bowls at Ivan Ramen NYC Slurp Shop, and most intriguing, a breakfast menu and a brunch menu involving scrambled eggs and breakfast buns (Japanese breakfast sausage, scallion omelet, yuzu hollandaise) or sweet silken tofu and more! Check out the Slurp Shop menu!
If you wish you could taste the creations of Ivan… there actually is an opportunity coming up in Portland on Saturday, June 13. As part of the Salt Fire Water series presented by Williams-Sonoma Open Kitchen, with Ingredient Sponsor New Seasons Market at the Jacobsen Salt Co.’s headquarters and event space, Chef Earl Ninsom of Lang Baan and Chef Ivan Orkin of Ivan Ramen are working together to create a special dinner. The cost of the dinner is $135 ticket and includes five courses, four glasses of the featured wines, producer/chef discussions, and the ability to purchase special product, books, etc. at event.
Only 50 seats are available…. and I am going to be in one of those seats! Of course I’ll share the recap after the dinner if you want to vicariously live through me. The IVAN RAMEN + LANG BAAN – Jacobsen Salt Co.’s SALT FIRE WATER tickets seem to be sold out (no surprise here since Earl Ninsom’s Lang Baan is basically sold out until November, and Ivan Orkin usually spends his time either in Tokyo or New York where his restaurants are so it’s a big deal for him to be in Portland cooking for us), but you can check out more SALT FIRE WATER events here at Eventbrite.