Long Island-native Ivan Orkin doesn’t see himself as an American — though he speaks with a New York accent and went to culinary school at the Culinary Institute of America. His life-long love affair with Japan helped him become a ramen star in Tokyo. He’s fluent in Japanese, and since college, he has lived mainly in Japan, with the exception of his years at the CIA and for a few kitchen stints around New York.
In 2007, he channeled his love of ramen into his first restaurant, Ivan Ramen, in Tokyo. Faced with the challenge of being a foreigner opening up a ramen shop in Japan, but armed with a true passion for Japanese culture, his comfort ingredients like rye flour and schmaltz, and years of hard work on his recipes, his shop was an instant success that led to a second Tokyo shop, in 2010.
In 2012, he moved his home base back to New York with the dream of opening up a business back home, while continuing on with his Japan shops. Last year, he opened the Slurp Shop in New York’s Gotham West Market, which features five types of ramen, including a classic shio ramen and a roasted garlic mazemen (a style with less broth), as well as a smoked whitefish rice bowl on the menu. This weekend, his 50-seat flagship shop opens on the Lower East Side with a different menu from his other shops. The space is decked out with a beautiful mosaic mural and it will be serving five types of ramen, including a four-cheese variety and a pork-free variety with his schmaltzy chicken broth base. Small plates and appetizers, such as fried chicken livers and preserved hen and duck eggs will also be available.
We chatted with the ramen master to see what it’s like to return to New York so many years later and why sushi seems to show up at every fancy Jewish function.
East-coast transplants are elevating the Bay Area bagel. [New York Times]
You can certainly get your fill of best-of lists this time of year. Top dishes of 2012 include bialys from NYC’s Hot Bread Kitchen [Serious Eats], Israeli cuisine [Serious Eats], best Shabbat chicken and homemade pop tarts [Nosher].
A post-New Year’s hangover cure: the kosher prairie oyster. [Kosher Nexus].