600 11th Ave (between 44th and 45th St, Hell's Kitchen)
Fatty Kat Eats: Classic Shio Ramen, Negi Salad, Smoked Whitefish Donburi
Over the past few months, I've seen "Ivan Ramen" all over the food blogs in anticipation for his NYC arrival. Apparently, Chef Ivan Orkin (@ramenjunkie) is a big deal in Japan, so however odd his credentials, I knew this Jewish man from Long Island must make a mean bowl of ramen. The verdict? Hell yeah!
Ivan's first New York outpost is located in the new Gotham Market West in Hell's Kitchen. The space is planned in a way that takes good layout ideas from Chelsea Market and Eataly and applies them to a cozier footprint. I'm happy to report that the counter and cafeteria-style seating finally make awesome ramen accessible to everyone without a crazy wait.
I plan on spending many nights with Ivan over this brutal winter season, but the early word is: WOW. The Classic Shio Ramen is out of control with noodles and broth so different from the norm. This chicken and dashi (fish) "double soup" was unlike any other broth I've ever had. How could this possibly be so light and rich at the same time? Now the noodles...my first reaction to the noodles was a slight confusion. I thought, "Why are these noodles so al dente?" Turns out these golden strands were made from rye, which made all the difference. Still chewy but not silky like we're used to. Just look at the picture below. No wonder he's famous in Japan. He beat the Japanese at their own game.
My Jewish and honorary Asian eating partner (@bovalicious) devoured the bomb diggity Smoked Whitefish Donburi. Who else could come up with something so...Jewish and Asian? Yes, it sounds so weird, but it tasted incredible. Ivan's smoked whitefish and salmon roe were not in the least bit fishy. The scallions added a lovely grassy flavor, while the cucumbers kept the donburi refreshing. Oh...and sesame seeds for the win!
Everyone, stand back! My scallion breath is still a little lethal. The Negi Salad is 99% scallion and 100% awesome. I don't normally love shiso, but I loved the shiso vinaigrette in this so-called salad. The raw and pickled cucumbers added a wonderful, cooling crunch to the mix. Me love.
While we were eating, we saw Ivan and another chef walking around from table to table asking about the noodles. He never made it to us but kudos for caring! Now, let's see if he responds to me on Instagram.
I can't wait for Ivan's Lower East Side location to open so I don't have to almost trek to New Jersey for his supernatural ramen. More to come on Ivan Ramen. This is just the beginning!