In 2015, Ivan Ramen opened on the Lower East Side. Today, it still stands out in a city full of ramen shops, with each dish mixing Japanese and Western cooking styles and ingredients.

One dish on the menu is a steaming bowl of original rye noodles, a rich soup made of chicken and Japanese dashi broth, topped with an oozy soft-boiled egg and thick-cut pork belly.

The restaurant at 25 Clinton St. sits next to an apartment building and a bar that is usually empty. Young friends and couples gather around the bright entrance on this quiet street as they wait for their table. Once they’re inside, cartoon murals decorate the walls. Music from the Rolling Stones, Beastie Boys, and The Kinks play, and they are guided to a counter seat or a table.

Even though Chef Ivan Orkin’s personal life is stealing the spotlight recently, his ramen deserves the attention.

The restaurant became even busier after a popular cooking TV show, “Chef’s Table”, featured Orkin. In the hour-long episode, he talks about losing his wife, getting remarried, and his journey in opening a ramen restaurant.

In 2007, Orkin opened his first shop in Tokyo. It quickly gained attention as a ramen joint owned by a foreigner, something unheard of before. The restaurant became one of the top places to eat ramen in Japan.

Here are five reasons why you should be there too:

1. There’s always something new to try. Every few months, the one-page menu changes. This month, Orkin introduced Chicken Paitan Ramen. It has just the right balance of rich chicken broth, smooth rye noodles, salty minced pork, sweet egg yolk, and to top it off, half a lime for a sour twist. Like all ramen in New York, ramen here costs about $16.2. The ramen is different than anywhere else. Apart from the staple flavors, Shio (salt), Shoyu (soy-sauce), vegetarian, and spicy red chili, Ivan Ramen serves different types of ramen. If you’re feeling adventurous, try the mazemen, noodles served not in broth but in a thicker sauce. This month there is a Triple Pork Triple Garlic mazemen with pork and garlic sauce, soft pork belly, and thick whole wheat noodles. At $16 this type is about the same price as the other basic ramen and specials. 

3. Appetizers are just as good. Right now, Japanese Fried Chicken is on the menu. It is cooked in a toasted garlic sauce bursting with flavor, and a hint of Japanese spice. At $13, this dish will have you fighting over who gets the last piece. Other appetizers include Brussel sprouts, fried tofu and chilled braised greens, all about $12.4. The drinks are one of a kind. There are 21 craft beers and six different types of sake, Japanese rice wine, to choose from. Even better are sake cocktails that are Ivan Ramen originals. “Oishii Apple” comes with a cube of a frozen apple mixture and sparkling sake. It’s the perfect combination of sweet and bitter. Even though the drinks are about $12, these unique choices are worth it.

5. The artwork calls for great photos. When you enter Ivan Ramen, there is a colorful collage of characters. From the face of the Statue of Liberty to a Japanese cartoon character, it makes for a fun backdrop to your next Instagram post.

A tip before you go: Make a reservation. Ivan Ramen seats only 50 guests at a time. Avoid the wait and make a reservation a week in advance.


Ivan Ramen

25 Clinton St. right below Houston St. on Avenue B


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