We all heard the story before hundreds of times. A Jew from Long Island moves to Japan to teach English, moves back to the states, attends The Culinary Institute of America, leaves his heart in Japan so comes back to Tokyo, gets bored out of his mind and learns how to cook Ramen (just about the last thing that crosses my mind when I’m bored). So he opens the first restaurant in Tokyo, finds success and opens another… moves back to NYC to open the Slurp Shop at Gotham West market and the flagship Ivan Ramen in East Village. 10 months later, over a dozen visits to the Slurp Shop and over a dozen whitefish Donburis, two visits to the new joint in East Village, and needless to say… Ziggy is a fan of the Ivan.
The Slurp Shop
I’ve already written extensively about Hell’s Kitchen’s main attraction these days, Gotham West Market, the home of the first Ivan outpost. The Slurp Shop is normally the last stop of my monthly food crawls. Problem is by the time we get here more often than not, tummy is already full. The menu settled down over the year and features some unique staples like…
Slow-Cooked Pork Donburi - Another fun rice concoction with super tender pork shoulder, scallion, salted plum wasabi, and chunky roasted tomatoes proving nice balance and much needed acidity.
Roasted Garlic Mazemen – I must admit the Mazemen here is more exciting to me than the traditional Ramen. Mazemen is almost brothless ramen, but packs in more flavor and intensity. This one comes with Nori, dashi, chicken broth, pork belly chashu, and the same rye noodle as the traditional ramen. Garlic lovers especially may find this dish quite formidable. Yes, I’m officially adding formidable to my vocabulary.
Ramen – I cant find any pictures of any of the Ramen I tried here. Most likely due to the way I attack them once I see them. I believe I tried all of them except the vegetarian one and all are quite good in their own way. The Tokyo classics Shio and Shoyu are cleaner and purer than most of the modern Ramens out there.
Whitefish Donburi – Perhaps my favorite dish in GWM but admittedly not for everyone (what is really). White rice mixed with sweet soy dashi and topped with cucumber, scallion, salmon roe, and beautiful smoked whitefish. Jewish heritage meets Japanese school girl. Or something like that
Lower East Side is the new East Village. I can spend a year here and eat something delicious and different every day. The new Ivan Ramen flagship complicates things even further for those locals that cant decide whether they are in the mood for Burritos, Ribs, Ramen or Israeli Scotch Eggs. This is more of a sit down than the Slurp Shop, which basically means slurping isnt as encouraged here. And the menu is quite different and fuller…
Pickled Daikon – shaved daikon (the radish white milder shy cousine), dried shrimp, scallop chili oil. I expected fishier flavors from the shrimp but it was more reminiscent texture wise of the most freakish tasting bread crumbs ever. Get this!
Chinese Broccoli & Garlic – Another cold winner. You taste the Broccoli with that sweet garlic soy sauce and go “well this is nice..”, but then you taste the pickled garlic and the world suddenly beginning to makes sense again
Pork Meatballs – Its texturally impossible to come up with more tender balls. Garnished with bonito flakes, buttermilk dressing, and Japans official unofficial sauce, Bulldog brown sauce. Marvelous dish! And no, I’m not adding “texturally” to my vocabulary because its not a real word
Tofu Coney Island – A playful and enjoyable take on the Nathan Hotdog. Fried tofu topped with miso mushroom chili, mustard, and scallion. Enjoyed this one