There’s no shortage of good ramen in New York these days, but Ivan Orkin’s homecoming is a welcome addition. Orkin is a native of Long Island, but he spent many years living in Japan, drawn there by his love for Japanese culture. He opened his first two ramen joints in Tokyo — a bold move for a gaijin — and they were wildly successful, proving his mastery of the cuisine. There’s no doubt about it, Orkin gets ramen. At the Slurp Shop, he uses Sun Noodle’s springy and textured rye noodles, which have a wonderful dimension. The roasted garlic mazemen is extremely tasty. Mixed with chicken broth and dashi, the roasted garlic purée has a creamy consistency. I couldn’t help but drink it by the spoonful — not a great idea if you’re on a date. The noodles come with two small pieces of pork chashu and spring onions, but I recommend that you order the dish “fully loaded,” adding roasted tomato, egg and extra chashu, not only because the ramen portions are small, but also because ramen without egg is just inconceivable, and the roasted tomato is simply delicious, adding brightness to the dish. The chashu melts in your mouth, so a little extra won’t hurt.
Slurp Shop is in Gotham West Market, far west on 11th Avenue — a little out of the way for some people, but worth it. I find myself drawn to the market by its great congregation of food options. If you are in a ramen mood but your companions aren’t, everyone can get what they want and still eat together. It’s a win-win.