One of the most anticipated openings of the year, Ivan Orkin's Ramen Slurp Shop in the new Gotham West Market delivers big on creativity and flavor.
Ramen is to Japan like pizza is to New York. Iconic food.
New Yorkers are highly critical of their pizza, just as the Japanese are to their ramen.
Would you expect a pizzeria opened up by a nice born and bred Japanese fellow to succeed here in New York? Probably not.
So when Ivan Orkin, a self-described "Jewish kid from Long Island", decided to open up shop in Japan, his dream of ramen stardom seemed destined to fail. But it ended up anything but. Chef Orkin's ramen quickly gained a cult following in Japan, and his first outpost back here in the states was one of the most highly anticipated restaurant openings of the year.
How did it stack up?
Let's just say I've been there 4 times within the span of 3 weeks. I'm in love. It's all I can think about. I'm officially hashtag obsessed (by the way, did you see the Jimmy Fallon and Justin Timberlake hashtag skit. If not, you need to watch it immediately).
Ivan Ramen Slurp Shop is located within the brand-new Gotham West Market in Hell's Kitchen. A gourmet food court of sorts, the Gotham West Market opened back in December and contains eight food purveyors serving up a myriad of different foods.
To avoid the lines (like we did in the above photo), go during an off-peak eating time. On two subsequent trips during typical lunch and dinner hours, it was packed.
My buddy Steve and I chatted up one of the ramen chefs working the line during one visit and he shared some fun tidbits of info. Only one of the chefs at Ivan Ramen Slurp Shop actually apprenticed with Ivan Orkin in Japan. All the rest of the cooks really never actually cooked ramen before coming to the Slurp Shop. They all come from fine dining kitchens from across NYC.
He said he wanted to come to Ivan Ramen because back in the day, he tried to get an apprenticeship with Ivan Orkin in Japan but was unsuccessful. He jumped at the chance to work for Chef Orkin when the Slurp Shop opened.
Anyone else see a smiley face?
Some closing thoughts...
A quick look on Yelp shows some less than desirable reviews that I have some problems with. The most recurring complaints about Ivan Ramen seems to be that the portions are small and the price is quite high. Honestly, I don't know about that. The portions are substantial enough in my book. Maybe not as big as some other bowls of ramen I've had, but a bowl definitely fills me up, especially the rice bowls. And overpriced? Really? Ippudo, Momofuku Noodle Bar, Bassanova, and Chuko are all similarly priced.
And hey, good news:
Ivan Orkin has a Lower East Side restaurant in the works and will hopefully open soon. Besides offering ramen similar to the ones at the Slurp Shop, his LES menu will also offer a lot of different small plates meant for sharing. I, for one, cannot wait.