NOTE: Ivan Ramen Plus and the original Ivan Ramen are no longer in operation. You can only find Ivan Ramen in New York.
Ivan Ramen Plus is not just a bigger, brighter, sleeker version of his first restaurant, the humble one-counter shop he opened five years ago in Roka-Koen, a sleepy station on the Keio Line west from Shinjuku. Orkin sees this venture as an outlet for his experimentation. He’s a ramen alchemist, always working on new recipes — and this is where he can showcase them.
Everything is prepared in-house, from the soup to the chāshū pork, seasonings and condiments. So too are the actual noodles, which are made in four different gauges, ranging in thickness from delicate to hearty. Orkin’s slogan has always been “Slow food fast,” meaning he uses quality ingredients and no chemical additives or flavor enhancers.
From the outset, the menu at Ivan Ramen Plus has been unconventional. Whereas most ramen broth is cooked down from pork and/or chicken bones, the specialty here is ago-dashi, a seafood-based stock made from dried flying fish (ago), shellfish and squid. He blends in a bit of cheese and tomato to give it the richness and “mouth-feel” you expect of a ramen soup. But the flavor is lighter and more delicate, closer to the dashi used in traditional Japanese cuisine.