Ivan Ramen Opens May 9 on Clinton Street

When ramen guru Ivan Orkin was growing up on Long Island, he would often spend a day noshing his way through the Lower East Side, the neighborhood his grandfather called home a century ago. Now, he’s come full circle.

LES Bites: Ivan Ramen Approaches, Antonioni’s Slideshow, Tea at NuMu

A Conversation With Ramen Master Ivan Orkin

Ivan Orkin outside his restaurant at 25 Clinton St. Photo by Alex M. Smith.

Ivan Orkin outside his restaurant at 25 Clinton St. Photo by Alex M. Smith.

The following story was first published in the June edition of The Lo-Down’s print magazine.

Get ready for some ramen magic on the LES.  He runs two popular ramen restaurants in Tokyo and now Ivan Orkin is bringing his version of the tasty delicacy to New York, setting up shop at 25 Clinton St. on the former site of Ed’s Lobster Bar Annex. The 50-year-old ramen impresario, who created Ivan Ramen and Ivan Ramen Plus, grew up in Syosset, Long Island, and migrated to Japan after stints in the kitchens of Mesa Grill and Lutece, among others.

Orkin has won accolades in Japan for his shio ramen (one soup made from two broths) and homemade noodles. After several years in Japan, he returned to New York a little over a year ago with his young family. Orkin’s tie to the LES? His grandfather lived in the neighborhood when he first came to the United States in 1909. Apart from the family connection, Orkin fondly recalls eating his way through Chinatown and the LES in the ’80s and ’90s: “I’d start out eating Chinese food and then ended up with Jewish food.” Among his favorite stops were Kossar’s, Guss’ Pickles, Economy Candy, Russ & Daughters and Katz’s. When he was a kid, he’d go with his mother to one of the many fabric stores that lined the neighborhood. He says the gentrification of the LES kind of passed him by while he was living in Japan.

SakaMai Readies For Grand Opening at 157 Ludlow

Image via SakaMai’s Facebook page.

SakaMai, the new sake lounge at 157 Ludlow Street, is scheduled to open next Thursday, after hosting a series of private preview events.  In Zagat the other day, Jenny Miller referred to the restaurant as a “Japanese gastro lounge.”  There will, of course, be a large sake menu, plus Japanese whiskeys and beer. The 100-seat venue will also offer a small food menu.