This week I had a huge NYC discovery: Ivan Ramen at Gotham Market in midtown. I’d been dead curious to find how a Jewish guy from Long Island, Ivan Orkin, could create a so-called ramen revolution, and even more so to find out how he meshes his Jewish identity into his recipes. Apparently, he got his training in Tokyo, where he created two noodle restaurants that established as a ramen master of his domain, and brought his expertise and knowledge here. So clearly there would be validity to the claims of his being labeled Mr. Ramen King. The Gotham Market is a new, sleek food market located on 45th Street and 8th Avenue that houses Ivan Ramen, as well as other interesting eateries. For the purposes of keeping this piece focused (and because I’m kind of obsessed with Ivan Ramen), I’ll stick to the specifics of Ivan Ramen, whose motto by the way is “The art of the slurp”.
The Ramen at Ivan Ramen
I’m salivating just thinking about Ivan Ramen’s food. I really am. After being there (twice in one week), I believe that Orkin learned a thing or two about ramen in Tokyo. The ramen is just unlike any I have ever experienced. The menu items (they change regularly) on my visit included ramen in a a tomato broth called Sapporo, a delicious noodle called Mazeman made with garlic, Tokyo Shoyu Ramen which has a soy base, Spicy Red Chili Ramen, Smoked Fish Donburi (a whitefish rice dish with Jewish influence) and the most gorgeous salads ever including a sweet Scallion Salad pictured above. I loved the Donburi and I’m hoping that Orkin brings his famous matzo-ball ramen (Dassara) out for Rosh Hashanah.
Orkin’s ramen noodles are just DELICIOUS. He has truly mastered the art of ramen making – the broth in which they exist is just fabulous. The Shoyu dish is salty, from the soy, but just right. I’m a vegetarian and opted for tofu noodles which tasted just as good as any real noodles. The ramen is served in deep, white bowls, reminiscent of Orkin’s roots in Tokyo, complete with chop sticks and a deep spoon to slurp the soup. At Gotham Market, Ivan’s menu is shorter than downtown’s but the service and ambiance make up for it. The wait staff is excellent, punctual and generous (one shlepped across the market to grab a few cups of water for us).
My verdict? Thumbs up. So much so that I went twice in one week (yes, I do get out – going to work comes in handy for that!), and I can’t wait to go again.