Ivan Ramen

New York City's obsession with ramen isn't anything new. From Momofuku and Minca to Ippudo and Hide-Chan, Manhattanites have been slurping up delicious bowls of Japanese-style noodles for decades. But with long lines for the Ramen Burger still going strong every weekend at Smorgasburg and the opening of Ivan Orkin's much-anticipated standalone shop, Ivan Ramen, the ramen scene in NYC is hotter/trendier/more innovative than ever.

Last week, we jumped on the Ivan Ramen bandwagon and checked out his Lower East Side location. It had been a few weeks since it opened, so we were able to grab two seats at the bar with no wait.

The atmosphere is laid-back, and the staff is friendly and completely unpretentious. We particularly loved the comic strip lining the wall above the bar, showing patrons how to properly slurp up their noodles.

As for the menu, there is a great selection of hot and cold appetizers, which were all unique and seemed worth a try.

We started off with Roast Pork Musubi. The combo of savoriness from the tender pork, sweetness from the tomato sauce, mild heat from the wasabi, umami from the nori, and balance from the rice layered together to form the most perfect bite. And with that, our tastes buds were ready to enjoy the main attraction.

Of course, we had to order the Spicy Red Chili Ramen, our favorite at pretty much every ramen shop, and it didn't disappoint. There was the perfect amount of spice--spicy enough, but nothing you couldn't handle--salt and fat. Ivan also uses just-cooked rye noodles, providing a hearty bite that stands up well to the flavorful soup.

In addition to traditional ramen, Ivan also specializes in mazeman, which is a broth-less noodle dish with very little soup. Since this was our first experience with this style, we had no expectations for the Triple Pork Triple Garlic Mazeman. The best way to describe it is to say that it was a super-savory, garlic and soy sauce "sauce" for the whole wheat noodles that also had a great bite. The bean sprouts were a nice touch and added an extra crunch. But the highlight of this dish was the pork--super tender, extra juicy and flavorful, perhaps even more so than Minca's version.

With the many innovative touches at Ivan Ramen, this shop serves up memorable bowls that are a welcome addition to the ramen scene.

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Ivan Ramen 25 Clinton Street New York, NY 10002