Ivan Ramen Chef Talks Slurpfest 2014

Ivan Ramen Chef Talks Slurpfest 2014

A dish from Ivan Ramen (Courtesy Ivan Ramen)

Last week, I talked to Ivan Orkin of Ivan Ramen about LUCKYRICE Festival’s upcoming Ramen Slurpfest. The event is set to take place October 23rd at the Astor Center and will feature chefs from Ramen Lab, Tsujita in LA, Hidechan and of course Ivan Ramen. In lieu of beer, the courses will be paired with a signature cocktail featuring Bombay Sapphire EAST, a version of the popular gin Bombay Sapphire infused with extra Asian botanicals: Thai lemongrass and Vietnamese black peppercorn. The liquor brand will also have a do-it-yourself gin & tonic station set up at Slurpfest, so guests can create custom cocktails.

Orkin and I spoke over the phone about the event, his restaurants and more—all while he prepared a dish.

Q: What kind of ramen will you be serving at Slurpfest?

A: I don’t know yet. I just made a new ramen dish that I’m really in love with. I’m thinking that’s probably going to be it. But I just [have to] go over with the other [chefs] what they’re doing… Everybody at Slurpfest is doing heavier [dishes]. I’m generally known for doing lighter stuff. And I’m not sure how the customer is going to feel if I do super-thin soup. So I’m trying to decide how heavy I should go.

Ivan Orkin (Courtesy Ivan Ramen)

Q: Is that new dish going to be on your menu at Ivan Ramen or is it exclusive to the event?

A: Oh yeah, in another ten days—a week or ten days.

Q: Can you tell me about some of your popular dishes at your restaurants?

A: The [Tokyo] Shio and the Shoyu Ramen. Those are my signature dishes, both here and Japan. They’re very popular and I think they’re really fun and they’re kind of different than a lot of what’s being sold here. In Japan, it’s kind of a real resurgence of lighter kind of ramen, but that being said I [also] do a lot of Mazemen dishes, which is ramen without that much liquid. […] I also do a spicy ramen that’s really, really popular as well.

Q: What do you suggest for home cooks to add to their ramen and spice up a basic package of noodles?

A: If you live anywhere near a Chinatown, you can go get all kinds of amazing meats, [like] roasted duck, chicken or pork. I think any kind of a winter green, bok choy, Chinese broccoli, chopped up scallions [and] either nori shoots or shredded nori [would be good additions]. [And] of course, the soft-boiled egg. It gives it a lot of body and everybody loves a soft-boiled egg.

Bombay Sapphire EAST

Q: Can you tell me about the cocktails that will be served at the event? Have you tried them?

A: I have not; I haven’t had the chance.

Q: Are you looking forward to trying them [at the event]?

A: Yeah, of course!

Q: I know you have two shops in Japan, as well as the two in New York. Do you travel back and forth at lot?

A: I’ll be there on Monday. I go pretty regularly.

Q: Anything else you wanted to talk about?

A: I’m just really excited [about the event]. The guys from Tsujita in LA, I’ve been to their shop in Japan many times. I’m a fan of everybody [involved with the event]. I think Hidechan makes a great bowl of ramen. [Jack] Nakamura, the chef of Ramen Lab is an old friend and a mentor. He taught me a lot. So I’m really excited to be part of it.

For tickets and more information about Slurpfest, visit luckyrice.com.

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