photo credit: Noah Devereaux
You can now order a chicken sandwich and fries at Ivan Ramen.
That alone should signal to you that there have been some major changes at this iconic Lower East Side ramen spot since it opened in 2014. Lots of the menu items you might’ve seen on the glamorous Chef’s Table episode (like the Coney Island tofu, 1000-year-old deviled egg, and more) are gone. But the ramen, with silky, porky broth and thin delicate noodles, remains pretty unchanged. Not to mention, you can go brothless with a pleasantly garlicky bowl of mazemen that comes with a generous helping of pork belly. A bowl of any of those, particularly the shoyu or spicy red chili ramen, works great for a hearty takeout meal. And if you’re looking for a solo dinner when you’re on the Lower East Side, check out their intimate back patio that isn't dissimilar from eating on a spacious fire escape.
While some of those famed appetizers have disappeared (if you miss them badly, just pull up Netflix), they’ve been replaced by other solid small plates that we’d recommend if you want to share something with a friend in addition to your bowl of noodles. Two standouts are the eggplant in tahini that’s crispy on the outside and tender on the inside, and a side of cauliflower that’s hidden in a snowfall of bonito flakes and tastes almost cheesy from the curry koji-butter sauce.
And yes, about that aforementioned chicken sandwich. This one is decently crispy and slathered with tonkatsu sauce and kewpie mayo, but focus on ramen while you’re here - you should seek out other chicken sandwiches around town.
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With a crunchy breading and a soft interior, this is eggplant in its best form. Swipe the large chunks through the tahini and charred garlic sauce while you wait for your ramen to arrive.
This is what we wish our sheet pan cauliflower could be. Medium-sized florets rest in a curry koji-butter sauce and come covered with pickled ginger and thin sheets of bonito flakes.
Triple Pork Triple Garlic Mazemen
As advertised, this bowl of brothless noodles is indeed very pork and very garlicky. A good option if you’re not looking for a steaming hot bowl of soup.
A really good version of shoyu with all the key players: toasted nori, jammy eggs, soft noodles, and rich broth.
The vegetarian ramen at Ivan Ramen is incredible, partly thanks to the roasted tomato that’s dropped in. We’ve heard this called an “umami bomb” before. Basically, it just adds an extra layer of savoriness that replaces the fatty chasu nicely.
Spicy Red Chili Ramen
Our favorite bowl on the Ivan Ramen menu, but you need to understand this is a spicy bowl of broth. If you can handle the heat, you will be rewarded.