In an era in which everyone and their grandma seems to be opening up ramen shops around every corner, an American chef dedicated to the precision, the art, and the slurpiness of the ramen is a breath of fresh air.
Ivan Orkin took a chance in Tokyo.
Originally from Long Island, Orkin packed his bags and landed in the Far East to master the art of ramen from its motherland. And remarkably for a ‘gaijin’ foreigner, he became a culinary marvel after opening two successful ramen joints in Tokyo.
Now Orkin is back in New York.
Momofuku’s Lucky Peach magazine first introduced Orkin’s return to the West. Re-assimilating to Manhattan was not an easy task.
“I had terrible culture shock when I came back to New York two years ago. During my 30-year relationship with Japan, I had spent a long time learning how to do things a certain way.”
But Orkin embraces his new brothy challenge.
“As a white guy from New York opening a shop in the heart of ramen land, I dealt with some pretty hard customers. But New York’s the same—there I’m still a white guy making ramen trying to convince people that I can cook noodles.”
In this short film, director Jake Sumner captures Orkin’s New York comeback, the Ivan Ramen Slurp Shop at Gotham West Market in Hell’s Kitchen. Not all bowls of ramen are created equal, and Orkin knows that. He breathes that truth. A fresh gust from the East is about to blow through New York, and one only hopes Orkin’s ramen truth overflows to DC and elsewhere in a hurry.