Ivan Ramen – New York
If you missed Season 1, Episode 1 of ‘The Mind of a Chef‘, a PBS creation now in its third season, you’re going to have to pay $1.99 to watch it. It’s all about noodles – RAMEN!!! David Chang of Momofuku (and others) and his cohort, Peter Meehan, headed to Japan for the best ramen ever. They landed a ways outside of Tokyo to investigate the wildly popular Ivan Ramen, a seemingly lifelong all-things-Japanese passion of David Chang’s friend, Ivan Orkin. It left me drooling for ramen, and I’ve wanted to go to Tokyo ever since. The experience was also written up in the first Lucky Peach magazine, a publication I love to this day. (I could sell my year one, magazine one of Lucky Peach for $115 on Amazon. That’s how popular this publication is!! Get it here.)
I was super excited to see that Ivan Ramen opened two shops in Manhattan. One of them is in the Gotham West Market which seems to be a relatively new food trend to New York. Eataly is a similar venture near the Empire State Building. The concept is also alive and well at Oxbow Public Market in Napa. It’s an indoor group of restaurants, cheesemongers, organic markets, artisan chocolate and cheese and the like.
I knew something was wrong when I got to Ivan Ramen in the far corner and there was no line. How could a place so wildly popular in Tokyo not translate to the owner’s New York hood?? I ordered the Tokyo Shoyu Ramen which, for $12, consisted of soy sauce, dashi + chicken broth, pork belly chashu, rye noodle, the article’s feature picture. Although very pretty, I was thoroughly underwhelmed. The broth was weak and not very tasteful. The pork belly was non-existent and what was there was fatty. The noodles were done well, but there just wasn’t much to it.
It’s sad to see such a great opportunity turn out to be so disappointing. I would suggest, however, to make your way to Eataly or Gotham West Market when next in Manhattan. There’s so much to eat and see.