It's literally been years since we started hearing rumors that acclaimed ramen master Ivan Orkin would open a standalone restaurant in New York City. The excitement was temporarily quelled when Orkin debuted his Slurp Shop outpost at Gotham West Market late last year, but the long wait finally comes to an end this evening when he opens Ivan Ramen tonight at 5:30 p.m. on the Lower East Side.
True to form, Orkin will deliver his signature take on the Japanese noodle dish, including mazemen (brothless) styles and more soupy versions made from his favorite chicken-based dashi. Shio and Shoyu ramen styles will feel more familiar to dedicated ramen eaters, but not so with the Four Cheese Mazemen and the Spicy Red Chili ramen, made with the chef's special rye noodles. Diners can add in items like Egg and Pork Chashu or go "Fully Loaded" with those two plus a roasted tomato.
It's not just a slurp shop; Orkin's also doing cold dishes like a 1,000 year Old Deviled Egg, of both the chicken the duck varieties, with tomato and bonito; crispy fried prawns with smoked chili and watercress; and Tofu Coney Island, with miso mushroom chili, yellow mustard and scallion. His take on okonomiyaki, dubbed "Lancaster," has us particularly excited: instead of "pancakes" he's doing a scrapple waffle with charred cabbage, pickled apple and maple kewpie, the thick Japanese mayonnaise.
A dope mural by Nathan Fox called "Art of the Slurp" bolsters the long ramen bar, where you can peek and watch noodles be shaken and broth be stirred. A colorful decoupage wall mixes food porn with pop culture but with your head bent over a bowl of broth, the surroundings don't seem quite as important—that is, if you can get in at all. Expect epic lines for the foreseeable future as the ramen nuts make pilgrimage to pay homage to their god.
25 Clinton Street, (646) 678-3859; ivanramen.com