At Ivan Ramen, you’ll get a modern take on an otherwise very traditional part of Japanese cuisine. I’m quite conservative, when it comes to ramen, so it’s no secret that I was skeptical prior to my first visit, and it required a second visit before Ivan Ramen won me over.
Now I can’t get enough of what my foodie friend Waz would describe as New Age ramen, and even though there will be stuff in that ramen bowl, which you’d hardly encounter in Japan, the basics (the broth, the egg and the charshu) are excellent and bear witness of the fact that Ivan Ramen definitely masters the ramen fundamentals. I guess it’s like abstract painting? You have to know the basics before adding your twist.
The restaurant is really tiny, and in the evening, people are lining up out on the street, but contrary to most Japanese ramen shops, Ivan Ramen takes reservations, so do yourself a favor and make sure to reserve a seat in advance.
If you’re really hungry and you like garlic, you should go for the triple pork, triple garlic mazemen ($16) but personally, I find it a bit too heavy.
Mazemen ramen is dry ramen, so it doesn’t have a lot of soup. It’s more like noodles tossed in sauce. The best ramen I’ve had at Ivan Ramen is the shoyu ramen ($15). Order it fully loaded (+$5) and you’ll get an extra egg, additional slices of pork chashu and a roasted tomato.
• In addition to the flagship restaurant on Clinton Street, there’s also an Ivan Ramen Slurp Shop in Gotham West Market, but it’s not as cozy.
• The first branch of the restaurant opened in Tokyo and is probably the most successful ramen shop in Tokyo run by a non-Japanese.
• You can also order a selection of side dishes at Ivan Ramen, but a bowl of ramen is usually more than enough.
Ivan Ramen, 25 Clinton Street, Lower East Side, New York NY 10002, Tel: (646) 678 3859