Review: Ivan Ramen + Ramen Co.

Ramen pioneer Ivan Orkin and Ramen Burger creator Keizo Shimamoto tangle up madcap noodles in New York City

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  • Photograph: Paul Wagtouicz

    Ivan Ramen

  • Photograph: Paul Wagtouicz

    Pickled daikon at Ivan Ramen

  • Photograph: Paul Wagtouicz

    Four-cheese mazemen at Ivan Ramen

  • Photograph: Paul Wagtouicz

    JFC at Ivan Ramen

  • Photograph: Paul Wagtouicz

    Red-chili ramen at Ivan Ramen

  • Photograph: Paul Wagtouicz

    Ivan Ramen

  • Photograph: Paul Wagtouicz

    Ivan Ramen

  • Photograph: Paul Wagtouicz

    Yakitori burger at Ramen Co.

  • Photograph: Paul Wagtouicz

    Wakayama shoyu at Ramen Co.

  • Photograph: Paul Wagtouicz

    Ramen Co.

  • Photograph: Paul Wagtouicz

    Ramen Co.

Photograph: Paul Wagtouicz

Ivan Ramen

Ramen Co.


Rating: 3/4

Shimamoto got a front-row view of Orkin’s noodle ingenuity while apprenticing with the chef in Tokyo, before making a name for himself with a standout green-curry ramen—loaded with coconut milk and galangal—at the acclaimed Bassanova ramen-ya in Tokyo’s Setagaya Ward. Like Orkin, Shimamoto brought his Japanese hit stateside, but shortly after opening a Chinatown outpost in August 2013, the noodle scholar parted ways with the restaurant to focus on his little side project, the Ramen Burger: shoyu-lacquered beef patty, crisp arugula and scallions bookended by two “buns” made of chewy compressed Sun Noodle strands. It was an instantly Instagrammable, zeitgeist-tapping novelty when it debuted at Brooklyn food flea Smorgasburg last summer, ushering in four-hour lines and breathless media coverage to rival that other hype-beast hybrid the Cronut. 

The question is whether Shimamoto can surpass the gimmick, a feat he attempts at his cafeteria-style FiDi brick and mortar, Ramen.Co, a fast-casual assembly of pristine subway tiles and steel fixtures. Offerings are flagged above the counter—ramen, bento, burgers—with the latter in four iterations: the signature Angus ($8), yakitori chicken ($8), shredded beef ($9) and tofu ($8). Prices are steep—sizewise, the griddled bundle’s comparable to a McMuffin—and those zany noodle buns crave sodium and take to unraveling before you get to the last bite, but optional bacon adds a mollifying smack of salt, and that messiness is decidedly part of the ordeal: It’s juicy, sauce-shellacked and irrefutably tasty. 

But it’s by bowl, not burger, that Shimamoto shushes the naysayers: the Brooklyn Blend ($12) is a dark-and-musky cross section of shio, shoyu and tonkotsu, spiked with salt and soy with a black-garlic punch, bobbing with kikurage mushrooms, fried onions and thin, toothsome noodles. It’s the ramen of today: a little Japanese, a little American and staunchly New York.


  1. Ivan Ramen
  2. Ramen Co.

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