Next Level Ramen with Ivan Orkin

“If you went to any restaurant and watched the steps they took to make the delicious plate of food in front of you, you would be like, ‘no way, you spent 3 days making this?!’”

According to Ivan Orkin, ramen is no exception. And while there’s no shortage of ramen “enthusiasts” kicking around, Ivan is a guy who really knows his noodles.

Back in the 80’s, Orkin left Syosset, NY for Tokyo. A decade or two later, he was not only a chef, he was running the ramen scene in Japan. His wildly popular Ivan Ramen restaurants garnered hype and adoration in the homeland of the world’s favorite hot noodle dish. If you can make it there, you can make it anywhere.

Screen Shot 2016-01-05 at 3.00.15 PM

Long Island native Ivan Orkin.

Perhaps that’s why Long Island’s only ramen god brought Ivan Ramen home to New York, New York. One review of Ivan’s NYC exploits claims the ramen is “so good it will make your eyes explode.” That sounded wonderful, so we caught up with Ivan to pick his brain for some noodle knowledge and quick tips to help us all step up our ramen game.

Making “eye exploding” ramen is a tricky and intricate process that does not include a microwave or the word “instant.” Ivan takes pains to point out that there’s no substitute for fresh noodles, high quality ingredients and doing things the right (and long) way. However, your in-house ramen meals can move forward leaps and bounds if you follow these simple steps- courtesy of the ramen king himself:

1) Don’t use the seasoning that comes with instant ramen. It’s one thing if you can’t find fresh noodles, but do your mouth a favor and make your own seasoning.

2) Ivan’s rule of thumb is that “toppings shouldn’t compete with the noodles and broth” but “the fun thing about Ramen is that it can have tons of stu piled on top.”

3) Blanched bean sprouts, raw enoki mushrooms, roasted garlic, shaved cabbage, and pork belly (leftover meat from a roast can be a substitute) make for excellent and accessible toppings.

4) Want wine with that? Traditionally, ramen is paired with whites and rosés that can stand up to the saltiness of the dish, but a big, spicy red (like the Petite Sirah in this box) will also do the trick.

5) Say hello to Mazemen! Mazemen is a new style of ramen that has much less broth than the ramen most are familiar with. Resembling noodles in sauce much more than a noodles in soup, this “brothless” style is gaining popularity rapidly, and has a lot of room for interpretation.


Try out Ivan Orkin’s very own Chili Eggplant Mazemen recipe right here on thebacklabel!!!

Leave a Reply