Ivan Ramen opened this year, and it’s fabulous.
Sit at the counter, because the tables are always taken. You can look at this mural by cartoonist Nathan Fox as you eat. It encapsulates the attitude of this hip, fun place. It’s open until midnight. Mostly young people. Great service, by the way.
The dishes are hearty, the portions are just the right size, and the whimsical menu is just focused enough to make sure everything’s cooked right. Disclaimer: I’m a vegetarian and a creature of habit. This is what I order every time. It’s all I need.
The Tofu Coney Island is a witty take on a hot dog with mustard. Chef Ivan Orkin covered the tofu with mustard, miso mushroom chili (it tastes like regular vegetarian chili except a bit milder), and heaped on the scallions. The presentation is great, but once you dig in it’s got a great sloppy-joe feel to it. You don’t really notice the tofu, just the three contrasting flavors.
Here’s how it looks when it comes out. Keep in mind my ramen knowledge was previously limited to the Maruchan variety when I was a kid. (Oriental, thank you very much.) I was delighted by how much stuff I got with my noodles. You get a big gummy roasted tomato in there, hidden under a nice big pile of lettuce and chewy enoki mushrooms. I ate all that first so I could get to the rich, hearty soy sauce & vegetable broth. The rye noodles are a little softer than al dente, but they’re usually not too soggy. You slurp them up to get that broth flavor. Then, if you’re like me, you use your spoon to get the remaining broth bit by bit so you can savor every drop.
Chef: Ivan Orkin
My Rating: 10
Recommended Dish: Tofu Coney Island
Atmosphere: Painfully hip
Price Range: $20-$35 per person
25 Clinton Street
New York, NY 10002
OPEN: 12:00pm – 3:30pm for Lunch
5:30pm – Midnight for Dinner