On the cusp of opening his second New York restaurant, ramen genius Ivan Orkin recently stopped by the Food & Wine Test Kitchen to prepare some amazing dishes from his now-open Slurp Shop at Gotham West Market: smoked whitefish donburi (topped with juicy salmon roe and a featherweight cucumber-and-scallion slaw) and fortifying, fragrant chile-eggplant mazemen ramen with homemade rye noodles. We were ecstatic, to say the least.
A New Yorker, Orkin first made his name in the ramen capital of the world, Tokyo. "One of the things that really differentiated my shop—and still does—is that I make my own noodles [there]," Orkin said. For the New York market, he's working with Sun Noodle in New Jersey on a custom recipe. "I ate at a lot of ramen shops and thought the noodles were lousy." He also obsesses over the pairing created between the noodles and the broth. His partner, David Poran, further explained: "It really makes a huge difference depending on how much fat is in the broth, if it lubricates the noodles when you slurp them, how thick the noodles are compared to the viscosity of the broth and the residual starch on them."
Given the care that goes into producing his shop's noodles, it's not surprising that Orkin is equally particular about how to eat them. "We're trying to teach people how to slurp: We've got comics for it [on our menu], we give tutorials for it. I really believe that if you eat ramen and you slurp it properly, then eating it is more fun."
To wit, check out the video above for Orkin's expert demo on how to slurp ramen noodles and why it matters. Then practice at the Ivan Ramen Slurp Shop.