Lucky Peach #1 and Ivan Ramen

When I heard that David Chang,  the mastermind of Momofuku restaurant,  created a magazine about ramen, I ordered it right away  and awaited my copy of Lucky Peach like a kid waiting for Santa Claus.

I’ve never been to Momofuku in NYC, but since I moved to Japan, I’ve been following his career online and I read his cookbook with the greatest interest.  I can only fantasize about eating in NY for now, but his magazine about Ramen and Japan fell right in my back yard.

Lucky Peach is a quarterly published by McSweeney’s and with David Chang at the helm, I am pretty sure it’s going to be something fascinating to follow. The first issue has some pretty solid contributors; Anthony Bourdain, Ruth Reichl and Harold McGee just to name a few.

The tone of the magazine is edgy and it explores in detail the history of ramen in Japan and the different styles of ramen which can be found.  There is plenty of recipes which I can’t wait to try.  I repeat, this is not your mother’s food magazine, unless your mother likes to swear a lot.

If you don’t know anything about ramen, this magazine is an amazing primer.  If I was a foodie in America or Europe, I would probably want to jump on the next plane to Japan and try to eat at these great addresses.

David Chang is ramen geek and since I have moved to Japan, I actually visited a couple of places he mentions. I ate at ramen Jiro one of the most gargantuan ramen I have ever seen in Japan and survived the fatty goodness.

Lucky Peach explores in detail the phenomena of Ivan Ramen and I was lucky enough to have visited Ivan Ramen and talked with Ivan Orkin, it’s very amiable owner and chef.

I don’t go to Tokyo often, but Ivan Ramen was on my list of places to go even before I landed in Narita.

Ramen shops are everywhere in Japan, but there is only one shop own by a foreigner, so it’s a definite curiosity.

Ivan Ramen is a short train ride away from Shinjuku station.  The Rokakoen shop is located in the residential neighbourhood of Setagaya.

The shop occupies the corner of a very short shopping arcade.

I was so happy when I saw the EAT RAMEN HERE sign.

I was the only customer waiting outside before the dinner service and a cheerful Ivan Orkin invited me in when he opened the shop for business. Being early, I had the unique opportunity to talk at length about ramen making and food in general.  Orkin embodies my dream of one day being able to cook decent ramen for myself. The guy made it in a very tough country.

I drank a beer and ordered his special shoyu ramen.  I am writing this many months after my visit, but I can still remember the distinctive taste of his ramen. Chicken based with a nice undertone of dashi.

His western cooking sensibility and abilities brings a whole new dimension to ramen.   I really want to go back to Tokyo and try the rest of the menu.

I left his shop happy and curious about ramen.

Lucky Peach magazine answers some my questions and make me want to explore the land of ramen even more.

Where is your favorite ramen shop? Please don’t hesitate to share your great finds, here, on Foodie Topography.



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