Sunday, February 1, 2015

Ivan Ramen

Last week, Luke and I had the pleasure of visiting Ivan Ramen in Manhattan. It was our first date night in a VERY long time.

The idea of going to Ivan Ramen preceded our decision to have a date night. Meaning, we decided to have a date night because one of Luke's customers worked at Ivan Ramen and invited us to check out the place. When I heard we were going to Ivan Ramen I basically freaked out because I had been wanting to for a while. I had been hearing so many good things about it!

I basically wanted to try everything on the menu but I stopped myself from ordering everything! So, we ordered a two appetizers and two noodle dishes, but they brought out a few extras for us to enjoy!

1000 Year Old Deviled Egg (Hen Egg + Preserved Duck Egg, Tomato, Bonito)
A damn good deviled egg. Loved the bonito... love me some bonito on anything!

Warm Japanese Sweet Potatoes (Miso, Maple, Pecans)
I can't even explain to you how good this was. We were fighting over it. The miso/maple combo was just the perfect unity between Japan and America! If I were a food, I would be a miso maple paste.

Tofu Coney Island (Miso Mushroom Chili, Yellow Mustard, Scallions)
I gotta say, this was not one of the things we were going to order, but they brought it out. AND THANK GOD THEY DID. As a kid, I grew up loving "Age Dofu" which is fried tofu. My mom also used to make a thick, tangy mushroom sauce that she would pour over thick udon noodles. This is what the chili reminded me of. So this dish, a combination of those two things, was strangely nostalgic and I loved every bite. The mustard was a perfect addition too.

Lancaster Okonomiyaki (Scrapple Waffle, Charred Cabbage, Pickled Apple, Maple Kewpie)
I expected a regular Okonimiyaki because I had no idea was Scrapple was. I ate it all with some help from Luke, because it was delicious but I didn't think to ask what it was that I was eating until after I finished. And then it all made sense. The majority of the "Okonimiyaki" was made of a more fancy "Ivan" version of scrapple, which was explained to me as pork scraps. The pickled apple gave an interesting flavor, and the maple kewpie of course just made it perfect. Everyone knows I only use "Kewpie" (Japanese) mayo... no Hellman's for me!

Ivan's Dan Dan Noodle "Dry Style" (Aromatic Sesame Oil, Spiced Pork Sauté, Thick Whole Wheat Noodles, Egg Yolk)
I love that this came with a raw egg yolk. I love that Japanese people love raw eggs because raw eggs are delicious. When I was little, one of m favorite meals was "sara sara gohan" which was simply a hot bowl of rice, a raw egg, and a little bit of shoyu mixed together. This was nothing like "sara sara gohan" but the egg yolk did give a warm thick flavor to the noodles just like it did for my rice. The sesame flavor was so good, it was almost unbearable. The noodles were also thick and hearty. This was very FILLING! Or maybe, we had already just eaten a ton of stuff by then....

Triple Pork Triple Garlic Mazemen (Tonkotsu Broth, Pork Chashu, Whole Wheat Noodles)
OMG, and this one! So much porkage but it doesn't feel like too much. The three "porks" were tonkotsu broth, chashu (braised pork belly), and bacon. Just FYI, there is no "broth" like soup... it's more of a thick sauce. We also got an egg to accompany the noodles. It was so delicious. This was also a very filling dish!

I think what I loved most about Ivan Ramen, besides the food being delicious, was that it reminded me so much of my childhood and the delicious home-cooked meals that my mom made. The flavors, the textures, even the wallpaper of the restaurant (think Anpanman, Ultra Man, Kamen Rider, etc.) was so reminiscent of my childhood! But then again, it is definitely NOT traditional Japanese cooking. They incorporated tons of Western flavors and they blended perfectly together.

Ivan Ramen
25 Clinton Street
New York, NY 10002
Tel: 646-678-3859