Tokyo-Grade Noodles Reach Ramen-Ready New York
Years ago, while writing a profile of David Chang, I learned everything I needed to know about ramen, which is Japanese noodle soup. First he told me it required years of research and untold slurping before a man could understand the complexities. Then he said none of that mattered because everyone “is going to like the ramen they grew up with.”
I’ve been eating chicken noodle soup all of my life, which might be why I’m so taken with Ivan Ramen Slurp Shop—the basis of the broth is chicken, not pork. This is the first American outpost of the emerging Ivan Orkin mini-ramen empire, heretofore found only in Japan. The shop is located in the Gotham West Market, an overachieving food court that one of my friends claims has the best food in Times Square. It almost does, except it’s not really in Times Square, and you have to walk almost a mile from 42nd and Broadway to get there.
The two styles referred to on the menu as “classics” are the Shoyu, which means the broth is seasoned with soy, and the Shio, where the seasoning is Japanese sea salt. If you’re a broth person, order the Shoyu—the soy adds a dimension so rich and disturbingly delicious you might think you’ll never need pork fat again. If you’re a noodle person, have the Shio—the custom-made noodles show off their rye flavor better coming out of the lighter broth. Both versions came with shredded scallions and a soft, mild, chunk of pork.
Just as comforting as the ramen is the whitefish rice bowl, also quite New York. The cold smoked whitefish (a New York staple) combined with the warm, sweetly seasoned rice tasted like freeform sushi, and an extra jolt of pleasure came from the juicy, marinated salmon roe on top. The Ivan Ramen chain has come to the city where it belongs.