Posts Tagged With: Ivan Ramen

Top 10 Dishes of 2017

Nur Eggplant

Lobster Fra Diavolo at Nishi.  A beautiful mammoth mess consisting of 1.5 lb flash fried salt and pepper coated lobster on a bed of garlic, chili and XO infused spaghettoni (emphasis on the chili).  Lobster comes cracked and ready to easily fish out perfectly cooked meat, while the escaped crunchy Tempura flakes adds some texture to the pasta.  Its a $62 triumph.

Nishi - Lobster Fra Diavolo

Chicken Paitan at Ivan Ramen – Not the Ramen that made Ivan famous, but the one that may convert the nonfans.  The richness and deliciousness of a Tonkotsu without the heaviness that follows sometimes.  The only dish other than the classics that broke the rule and became available in both Ivan Ramen locations.

ivan-ramen-chicken-paitan

Chengdu Fish Fillet With Pickle Vegetable at Legend of Taste – A spice loving family of 4 can easily share this outrageously delicious Szechuan soup.  I shared it with 6 and 4 in different visits.  Plenty of flaky flounder and chewy Enoki Mushroom.  Pleasant heat sneak up at you.  Even good an hour later when it cools down.  Only problem with this legend is that its in Whitestone, Queens.

legend-of-taste-chengdu-fish

Smoked Goat Neck at Ducks Eatery – A revelation of sorts.  Dont know why it took me so long to try it.  It may sound like something that is not everyone’s cup of goat, but once you see what goes into this dish, it may be hard to resist.  It redefines tenderness, succulence, and simply outstanding all around.  The only restaurant in NYC that serves this dish.

Ducks Eatery Goat Neck

Skate Wing at Gloria – Very few things in life can be as satisfying as a well cooked Skate.  Seems like once a year or so these days I score a good one.  At Gloria the skate is simply seared with butter and sprinkled with magic dust.  Opened by two Contra alumni, Gloria is the best thing that opened in Hell’s Kitchen since Gotham West Market.

Gloria Skate Wing

Eggplant Carpaccio at Nur (top)– Maybe the best looking dish out of the bunch, and the only vegetarian this time.  Like a Baba Ganoush gone wild.  Smoky, creamy, crunchy at times, and something you just want to “Scarpetta” the heck out of.  Not every spoonful is the same.  Chef Meir Adoni is sort of a legend in Israel opening his first in NYC, and just knows how to handle those veggies.

Snow Crab in Chinese Restaurant at Pinch Chinese – This is one of those dishes that you continue to think about months later, sometimes even at inappropriate moments.  Glass noodles with heaps of crab, dressed with an outrageously delicious fermented bean sauce with chilies and scallions.  The crab was plentiful but almost plays second fiddle to the noodles with sauce.  Pinch is an underrated gem in Soho

Pinch Chinese Crab in Chinese Restaurant

Sizzling Sisig at Pig and Khao – East Village and Lower East Side is slowly transforming into Sisigville (pig’s face parts come sizzling and topped with egg yolk).  And the best Sisig I had is at this Filipino inspired celebrity chef Leah Cohen’s flagship.  Very nice depth, flavor packed, and not as strong tasting as other Sisigs.  No additional sauce needed for this one.

Pig and Khao Sisig

Laab Ped Udon at Ugly Baby – Maybe the best thing to open this year is this fiery Brooklyn Thai from an old Brooklyn friend.  And this larby Duck Salad is one of the classics early on.  Complex, addictive heat, and unlike any Larb or larb-like salad you will ever have.  Spice level is fairly high in all dishes here, but in particular in those that have words like “Spicy” in the description.

Ugly Baby Duck Salad

Fromage Blanc Island “Cheese Cake” at Chikalicious Dessert Bar – Best dessert I’ve had this year came from an oldie but goodie.  Its delicate, elegant, and super light.  Like delicious fresh cheese mixed with cloud.  Its worth just going in order to meet the master Chika Tillman herself.  But if this dessert scene is a little foofoo for you, try the faster Dessert Club across the street and go for the Nutty Professor ice cream.

Chikalicious Cheese Cake

Other Noteables:  Soy Keema at Indian Accent, Goi Hed at Somtum Der, Spicy Lemongrass soup at Ginger and Lemongrass (new Lower East Side location)

Happy and Healthy New Year to all my readers and all the fun people I met over the year.  Thanks for a great 2017!

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Ivan Firing on All Cylinders

Ivan Ramen Chicken PaitanI dont usually update a place this soon, but this is kinda important after yet another fine meal at Ivan Ramen LES.  Weather is getting chillier (or seemed to be a few weeks ago at least), and I cant think of a better way to start Ramen season.  The Chicken Paitan at Ivan is not the Ramen dish that made Ivan famous, but to me it’s right up there with NYC’s best at the moment.  As I described 6 months ago when it came out, “the richness and deliciousness of a Tonkotsu without the heaviness”.

A corn on a cob dish always gets my attention, and this one proved to be a wowzer.   Its Miso roasted with bonito flakes and some sort of Japanese magic dust sprinkled.  The fried chicken, brined perhaps, is another exceptional one.  The Coney Island Tofu with that miso mushroom chili has made it’s triumphant return to the menu.  Magnifique as always.  As is the Triple pork, triple garlic Mazemen (brothless ramen) which has been on the menu since day 1 but somehow eluded me all this time.  Being featured on Netflix’s Chef’s Table hasnt made it easy, but reservations are doable.  Go!

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Categories: Lower East Side, New York City | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

Ivan the Formidable

Ivan Ramen Salmon Donburi

September 22nd, 2017 Update:

I dont usually update a place this soon, but this is kinda important after yet another fine meal at Ivan Ramen LES.  Weather is getting chillier (or seemed to be a few weeks ago at least), and I cant think of a better way to start Ramen season.  The Chicken Paitan at Ivan is not the Ramen dish that made Ivan famous, but to me it’s right up there with NYC’s best at the moment.  As I described 6 months ago when it came out, “the richness and deliciousness of a Tonkotsu without the heaviness”.

A corn on a cob dish always gets my attention, and this one proved to be a wowzer.   Its Miso roasted with bonito flakes and some sort of Japanese magic dust sprinkled.  The fried chicken, brined perhaps, is another exceptional one.  The Coney Island Tofu with that miso mushroom chili has made it’s triumphant return to the menu.  Magnifique as always.  As is the Triple pork, triple garlic Mazemen (brothless ramen) which has been on the menu since day 1 but somehow eluded me all this time.  Being featured on Netflix’s Chef’s Table hasnt made it easy, but reservations are doable.  Go!

March 5th, 2017 Update:

All sorts of major developments with the Ivan.  The Ramen Junkie keeps reinventing himself, and has even given us some bedtime entertainment.  Yes, Ivan Orkin is featured in the latest season of Netflix’s highly acclaimed Chef’s Table which I highly recommend.  Its refreshing to see someone on the show who you actually know and talk to from time to time.  Naturally the show helped revive his Lower East Side flagship in a big way.  And so if you havent been in a while, or never, prepare for a possible 2 hour shock on some evenings.  Yesterday I heard quotes ranging from 1 to 3 hours, albeit on a Saturday night.

Coincidentally, or not, the menus in both NYC spots have gotten a facelift as of late.  At the Slurp Shop however, at the moment looks more like a botched botox job.  The great Donburis (rice dishes including top) are long gone, and the sick Breakfast Ramen, changed to Breakfast All Day Ramen after they figured why not, is now gone too.  It cameod for a while last month only to see the same results.  Why is no one eating the good stuff.  Lack of appreciation, or people simply want the goods that made the man famous.  I say its the name of the dish.  Give it a cute Japanese name like Mocu Mocu and people will drive in forces.  Oh wait, they tried it already.  With that said, knowing these guys, another homerun is probably on its way.ivan-ramen-trumpet

But at the flagship, things are looking mighty fine these days.  I cant get on Instagram without seeing Ivan tease a new dish that looks infinitely better than what I’m eating (I’m looking at you quinoa).  Something like the brilliant briny Trumpet Mushrooms sliced like noodles, and served cold that I enjoyed last night.  This was a tip I got an hour earlier by the sous chef at Slurp Shop during yesterday’s Hell’s Kitchen tour (there he goes again with the shameless plugs).  Another new potential hit is the Dan Dan Noodles smothered with chili infused ground lamb.  It is probably the spiciest Dan Dan and one of the spiciest noodle dishes I ever had.  By the end I was waving a white flag which turned red by then.  It is purposefully dry and while delicious, I was longing for something wet to counter the heat.  But the most interesting newcomer is probably the dish I had on a previous night.  A bright and gorgeous Chicken Paitan with minced chicken and egg yolk.  It has all the richness and deliciousness of a Tonkotsu without the heaviness.  Its just like your moms chicken soup!  If mom went to culinary school for 10 years, moved to Japan and married the most famous Ramen maker in Tokyo that is.

August 24, 2014 Post:

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.

Ivan Ramen - Pork Donburi

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.

Ivan Ramen - Garlic Mazemen

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

Ivan Ramen Whitefish Donburi

Ivan Ramen

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!

Ivan Ramen Pickled Daik0n

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

Ivan Ramen Chinese Broccoli & Garlic

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

Ivan Ramen Pork Meatballs

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

Ivan Ramen Tofu Coney Island

Categories: Lower East Side, Midtown West, New York City | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Tourist in My Own Town – Day 3

053Not really needed on one of the best eating days of the year but to ensure proper drool action, lets start the weekend with my Friday lunch with the boys at work.  It’s becoming a company tradition where I take my coworkers to lunch like on a school field trip (single file, no holding hands). We call it Eating With Ziggy.  This time it was a special occasion so I took them to Danji, a sort of favorite go to spot lately.  I got the usual suspects to share… the addictive tofu, KFC wings, Bulgogi sliders (rule number one of fight club – order the sliders) and both bibimbaps.  Cant recommend this highly enough.  Well, I can, but choose not too.  Slightly different menu for dinner where all those dishes are available and more.
Danji Bibim - Bop
This time we left the house at 8 am much to more confusion from the neighbors (where are their kids, why are they stuffing a suitcase in the car again, are the kids in the suitcase).  We don’t talk to the neighbors on the left who’s main mission in life is to see all their neighbors suffer.  But I digress.  Very light breakfast at home was necessary in order to save room for what turned out to be one of the best eating days of the year.  Hmm, I believe I already said that.
The entire morning centered around the brilliant Summer Streets.  It’s like the biggest baddest block party imaginable. Ok, perhaps not the baddest.  For three Saturdays in August the entire park avenue and connecting streets from Brooklyn bridge to around 70th st or so is closed to traffic the entire morning, or from 7 to 1 to be exact.  Bikers, walkers, babies, joggers take advantage with the help of volunteers from New York Cares that control traffic, and even try to entertain sometimes while controlling traffic.  Some seem happier to do it than others but I give big kudos points to all of them.  In addition, you have all sorts of pit stops along the way… Zip Lining, Yoga, Whole Foods giving away free food, concerts, free walking tours, wall climbing, bicycle riding lessons, and much more.  A great way to spend the morning with other New Yorkers.  We parked near our hotel of choice (more on that soon), and rode the bikes to around 30th st in order to walk inside the Park ave Tunnel to the sound of water and waves.  If you ever wondered how Cast Away middle of the ocean feels like, you wont get that feeling here.  They choose a different artist every year to for the sounds.098 095 093 099 058 052
The end of the tunnel you pretty much at Grand Central Station, so like true tourists we took the opportunity to visit it.  Their was a wedding couple taking pictures while posing way too proper for the purpose.  We tried to take an audio guide tour but couldn’t quite wait the extra few minutes for the audio guide person to come back from her break.  It said “will be back in 15” and I swear we waited over 7!  Ok, we are not the most patient people.  I’m waiting for someone to bring me a Cronut directly so I could finally try it.  Right before entering the station we found ourselves at the Grand Hyatt, which felt just (slot machine sounds) shy of a Vegas hotel
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089We then proceeded to the Public Library Main branch and proceeded to do what every normal parents normally do in town without their kids.. go to a children book exhibit.  The ABCs of It exhibit was more interesting than I expected.  History of famous children books and their importance.  Stories like that of a couple who fled Paris right before a Nazi invasion carrying the drawings of a monkey named Fifi.  “Curious Fifi” would have been a better name than Curious George if you ask me.  A fun corner depicting the history of Goodnight Moon.  Nothing about goodnight Ipad, and my favorite classic Goodnight Schnitzel, but whatever.  Goodnight Moon was my favorite book because it was easy to read, short and sweet and I was able to go back to watching the hockey game in no time.  And upon exiting the library there was that wedding couple again following us with the same exact pose.073 091
Back to Summer Streets, we walked Park ave a bit to the Whole Foods pit stop where we enjoyed..nothing! due to the lines.  Picked up bikes and rode to the lower end of the “festival” where things got a bit more chaotic (in a good way).  But just before we picked up the bikes we did what every tourist to NYC must do, eat a hot dog.  I havent eaten in like 3 hours and I was starving
Our lunch was at Ivan Ramen flagship in the Lower East Side, with our young friend Victoria who recently moved to the East Village.  This is my second visit to this location, but I’ve been to the Slurp Shop in Gotham West many times.  They don’t share the same menu.  I will try to write a separate review if I have a chance but meanwhile here’s what I recommend to try at the LES flagship
Pickled Daikon – With dried shrimp that taste closer to breadcrumbs than shrimp but quite yummo!
Chinese Broccoli & Garlic – The pickled garlic is what did it for me
Ankimo Dirty Rice (dinner only) – Ankimo is essentially monkfish liver but dont be scared.  An absolute must
Pork Meatballs – Perfection.  Cant get any more tender this
Triple Pork Triple Garlic Mazemen (dinner) – Didn’t have it yet but perhaps the most popular dish here
Four Cheese Mazemen (dinner) – Rich and flavor packed
Salmon Donburi (lunch) – Like the whitefish Donburi at Gotham West but with Salmon instead.  Fantastic dish
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110Not much dessert here but no worries.  One of my new favorite “I cant believe its not gelato” ice cream spots is not too far at the underrated Essex Market, Luca and Bosco.  Named after the owners dogs.  Two girls, one of whom picked up some valuable trade secrets in the gelato capital of the world, Florence Italy.  The Drunk and Salty Caramel with Bourbon is my pick  again but I urge you to try the rest
We then walked around East Village with Victoria and made our way to the hotel.  I don’t know if it was the beer or lack of sleep but exhaustion hit, and I was craving a hotel bed badly.  And yes, we went back to the Hyatt Union Square and THIS time I got the view I wanted, of the brick wall.  I suppose a view of the city would make more sense to the average tourist but I rather face peace and quiet.  Our room was away from the elevator this time as well, and while the design was a bit different, still the same great king size bed and pillows, decent size, nice shower, and here’s the kicker…  “Great Location” is something you see in just about every hotel review, whether the location is UWS, Times Square, no matter.  Its a cliché.  But, I honestly cant think of a better location than this.  You could come up with some other nearby hotels that may be slightly better situated than the corner of 4th and 13th st, but, this is as center as it gets to great dining, great neighborhoods, and everything else pretty much.  You can walk just about everywhere from here including Times Square.  We walked to Battery Park the next day.  Highly recommend this baby Hyatt.  From baby Hyatt to baby NoMad…113
115After some relaxing at the Hyatt we met up with friends and walked toward the most highly anticipated meal of the “trip”, the new NoMad Bar.  It was even better than anticipated.  Fantastic bay scallop, and carrot “tartar” starters, first rate duck sausage, and as expected a burger that can rival anything in NYC right now.  But that’s not all folks.  The NoMad famous truffled/foie grased chicken can be had in the form of the most luxurious and delicious Chicken Pot Pie ($36).  They bring you the pie with the Foie on the side, and mix it in table side.  Needless to say the most extrodinary Chicken Pot Pie you will ever have.  But that’s not all.  The infamous $110 Cocktail Explosion we shared was a big hit with everyone.  One of the most memorable meals of the year.
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We then made a tourist mistake.  We took a cab to Washington Square Park just to cross it again to reach the next destination.  This time they had what looked like a Shakespeare in the Park session which I’ve never witnessed before.  Our destination was Comedy Cellar which was sold out of all shows, hence the mistake.  Oh well.  We briefly considered the Argentinian aerial acrobatics Fuerza Bruta but then settled for plan A, The Hundred-Foot Journey movie which dictated our next day dinner destination (second only to one of the best lobster rolls I ever had)
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Categories: Gramercy, Flatiron, Lower East Side, Midtown West, New York City | Tags: , , , , , , | 4 Comments

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