Note: I ran into my friend and neighbor Brian Koppelman (@briankoppelman on Twitter), a serious eater and screenwriter (he and his writing partner David Levien wrote Ocean's Thirteen and Rounders among many other movies and television shows) in our building's elevator a few days ago. He told me he'd been to Ivan Ramen Slurp Shop six times since it opened less two weeks ago. I laughed all too knowingly and asked if he would explain to the Serious Eats community why and how he had become so enamored of Ivan's joint so quickly. This is his story. — Ed Levine
I am a ramen freak. This is something I didn't really know about myself until about 14 days ago when I walked into Ivan Ramen Slurp Shop in the newly opened Gotham West Market. Before that, I liked ramen. Could even get excited about a killer bowl of tonkotsu at Jin Ramen or Ippudo. But the moment I took my first taste of Garlic Mazemen at Slurp Shop, I was hooked in a way I hadn't been by a single dish since I stumbled into Momofuku Noodle Bar the third month it was in operation and ate one of David Chang's pork buns for the first time.
I remember heading back downtown to Noodle Bar three times over the next three weeks. But that place is far away from my apartment. Ivan Ramen, on the other hand, is about 30 blocks south of me, a nice, easy walk, just long enough to convince myself that I've burned off the calories in one round trip. So I've been back five times since they opened. I'd admit to six, but that would be a little embarrassing.
I've tried to figure out why Ivan's noodles and soup are so addictive. It could be his famous double soup technique which ensures that the broth is heartily seasoned but still somehow light and easy on the stomach. It could be the rye noodles which are cooked just al dente enough to feel substantial on the tongue. It could be magic. Whatever it is, it works.
And I haven't just eaten the garlic mazemen. The truth is, I've been banned from eating it by my wife and kids because the amount of garlic Ivan uses, and the way he uses it, is evident on the eater's clothes, body, and breath for days and days. I say it's worth it; my family asks me to sleep at the office. So for the most part, I've been sticking with the Traditional Shio Ramen and the Pork Donburi Bowl. Both are excellent and addictive in their own way, and both have kept me coming back for more.
But the other day, something great happened. I came down with a wicked cold. A brutal, wicked cold. For which, as we all know, there's one cure.
Garlic. Ivan Ramen's garlic.
And if I have to sleep in the office? Fine. I'll have Ivan make me some take out,* and I'll eat it for breakfast.
* Note: Brian realizes that like many serious ramen shops, Ivan Ramen does not do take out as the noodles deteriorate quickly when they leave the premises. Great storyteller that he is, Brian was speaking metaphorically. — Ed