For our final ramen date of the year, Angela and I visited the Ivan Ramen flagship store on the Lower East Side. Their other location, the Ivan Ramen Slurp Shop is in Hell’s Kitchen, which is more cafeteria style. It was a cold December evening, and as you might expect, Ivan Ramen was pretty crowded. We waited 15 minutes before being seated at the bar, where we could see the cooks in action behind a panel of fun illustrations.
I’ve come across reviews where people are disappointed that Ivan Ramen is not as traditional as they expected. Really? I mean, the name should make it pretty clear that you’re getting a different interpretation of ramen here. Ivan Orkin, the self described “Jewish kid from Long Island” offers classic ramen flavors with a twist. I absolutely loved it, and unlike some other ramen-ya, it doesn’t induce a horrible food coma. (Or at least, I didn’t get a food coma that evening.)
The flagship store isn’t that big, but they offer an excellent selection of beer, wine, and cocktails. I sipped on the Sauvignon Blanc while we waited for our appetizers. Loved the coasters that come with the drinks!
Chinese greens with sweet soy pickled garlic love sauce ($7). I normally don’t get too excited about a cold vegetable dish, but this was quite good. Tender veggies, tasty sauce with shaved garlic on top. It’s quite a pile of veggies. Gotta eat those greens!
Our other appetizer was the Tofu Coney Island ($11), which was the highlight of the meal! I’m practically drooling just thinking about this dish. Bouncy tofu chunks with miso mushroom chili, yellow mustard, and scallions. The miso mushroom chili had a fantastic texture and flavor. So good, I wanted to lick the plate clean. Just this dish alone is a good enough reason to return to Ivan Ramen.
Angela ordered the Tokyo Shoyu Ramen ($13). Soy sauce, dashi and chicken broth, pork chashu, egg, rye noodles. She considered ordering the Spicy Red Chili Ramen, but decided against it after the waiter mentioned it was about an 8 on a scale of 1 to 10.
I ordered the Vegetarian Shoyu Ramen ($13), which had a soy sauce and vegetable broth, enoki mushrooms, roast tomato, arugula, rye noodles, plus an egg as an add on. Very satisfying soy sauce broth with a subtle hint of heat, probably from the arugula. I love enoki mushrooms, and the roast tomato was unusual for ramen, but worked here. I’ve never had rye noodles in ramen, but were wonderfully light and chewy.