Ivan Ramen — Worth the Hype?

After watching Netflix's Chef Table, I knew I had to try Ivan Ramen.

The episode tells the story of Ivan Orkin, the gaijin (foreigner) whose ramen impressed Japan. After his success in Tokyo, he brought his famous ramen, along with his twists, back to New York City.

Ivan Ramen is most known for its chicken broth and rye noodles, two things you will not find commonly in Japan. His most popular dish, the Chicken Paitan, is chicken shio broth, minced chicken, egg yolk, and rye noodles.

I have eaten a lot of ramen. Whether it is in the US, Japan, or even in a styrofoam cup, I've tried it all. Recently, I've noticed a major change in ramen everywhere. The fat content. Ramen has been getting fattier and fattier, which can be a good or bad thing. Fat is flavor, so it makes sense that the more fat the broth has, the better it will be. However, having too thick of layer of fat on your dinner will weigh you down and prevent you from slurping the bowl clean.

Ivan is definitely on board the fat train. And he knows it. He serves his chicken paitan with a wedge of lime to help cut the richness. The chicken fat and the egg yolk combine for one of the richest ramens I have ever tried. This fattiness made the broth too thick and rich for my liking, but who I am kidding, I still finished it.

My favorite part of the bowl had to be the noodles. They were thin, chewy, and had unique flavor. Most ramen noodles are just there for substance and texture, and take on the flavor of the broth. Ivan's unique blend of rye flour within the noodles gave them a distinct nutty identity, different from the rest of the dish.

Similarly to his noodles, he gets creative with his appetizers and sides as well. For example, you can add a roasted tomato to your ramen, or order a bonito Caesar salad to start.

Overall, I understand the hype around Ivan's ramen. The chicken flavor he achieves is something unlike any ramen I've experienced before. As the waiter walked to my table, the aroma of chicken punched me in the face. I am thoroughly impressed with how he made ramen his own, and did not try to recreate traditional, dare I say boring, ramen.

Thank you Ivan Orkin and the Ivan Ramen Team!

Check out Ivan Ramen: Lower East Side, Hell's Kitchen