Meet America’s First and Actual Ramen Master

NY-born Ivan Orkin has revolutionised this noodle and broth classic in more ways than one; and in more places than one.

Japan’s fascinating culture first roused an interest in him at the age of 16, and after majoring in Japanese in college, he moved to Tokyo to teach English to the natives.

Fast forward to 1991, when he returned to the US to attend the Culinary Institute of America for two years. Ivan then embarked on the impossible – heading back to Tokyo to master ramen in his own right, but not before gaining abundant experience from Mesa Grill, Lutece and Restaurant Associates. Through “Ivan Ramen“, he married his love for cooking and all things Japanese, and even won the hearts of locals, who told him that it was as good as Japanese ramen joints all around its ultramodern city of origin. Eventually crowned one of the top ramen spots in Japan, it’s made news back home in the US.



Photo via NY Times

What blows us away is his lifelong dedication not only to perfecting the traditional dish, but outdoing himself and defying prior notions associated with a foreigner trying to make good in a land so deep-seated in its heritage. It definitely helps that this same heritage is all he is passionate about.

As of 2016, Orkin has returned to New York City and opened his 50-seat US flagship along Clinton Street. Most recently, he opened the Slurp Shop in Gotham West Market; which serves up the most unconventional, experimental ramen and side dishes to boot.



Photo via Serious Eats

Sounds perfect for a city that’s ever hungry for diversity and the newest form of cult food making its way round the corner of the conveyor belt. One day, we too shall settle in the Slurp Shop on a cold day and have a serving (or three) of this legendary reinvention.

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