Not to be confused with Ivan Ramen, which finally opened last month in New York's Lower East Side and takes its namesake from the man himself, Ivan Ramen Slurp Shop is a pop-up that resides in the Gotham West Market in Hell's Kitchen. Within this foodie paradise, one can wander its halls to scope out different vendors' offerings, order wherever the heart desires, and sit in its communal seating area to blissfully nosh away.
At the Slurp Shop, you can order five different bowls: shoyu, shio, spicy chili, veggie, or garlic mazemen. And having read the book, I had to sample Orkin's famed Shio Ramen. Up until this moment, my ramen modus operandi was to always go for the fattiest, richest, almost creamy soup bases. In ramen world, this often means going for a tonkotsu bowl. But at Ivan Ramen Slurp Shop, there was no such choice. Orkin specializes in shio ramen. And what better ramen to advance beyond the tonkotsu gateway with than Ivan's own Shio Ramen?
Tonkotsu ramen is to shio ramen as The Odyssey is to Where the Sidewalk Ends. Which is to say one is opaque, complex while the other is light and precise. Therein lies the beauty of shio ramen. As every college student knows, there is an inverse relationship between required essay length and difficulty of writing said essay. To put it bluntly, a short essay means there's less room for BS. Not to say that tonkotsu comes off heavyhanded - I will always love a good tonkotsu - but perfecting the subtle nuance of shio is a commendable endeavor.
Orkin's Shio Ramen was non-fussy yet detailed. What struck me most about this dish was the amount of thought put into its few ingredients. The noodles had flecks of rye lending a distinctive texture. On the side, a halved soft-boiled-to-perfection egg and a single piece of slow-roasted pork belly served as the dish's primary toppings. For garnish, scallions were sliced lengthwise and set atop the noodles in a tangled mass. Finally, the bowl was finished with a sprinkling of powdered bonito. The soup, which is a little more on the murkier side, was actually my least favorite part of the dish since I found it too salty.
In summary: Refreshing venue. Equally refreshing bowl of ramen with impeccable attention to detail. Excited to try Ivan Ramen in LES.