"Invader from Planet Ramen" Visits David Chang's Momofuku Noodle Bar

July 16, 2012 5:58 PM EDT | By Anthony Smith
Ivan Orkin
Ivan Orkin of Ivan Ramen in Setagaya, Japan will be taking over Momofuku Noodle Bar on July 17, 2012 from 5:30 PM onwards. (Photo: Creative Commons)

In a particularly generous move that we hope continues, Momofuku Noodle Bar, typically the most inconsistent and middling of David Chang's soapbox brand, sees Ivan Orkin of Ivan Ramen in Setagaya, Tokyo taking over for a one-night only ramen event they're affectionately calling "The Invader from Planet Ramen." Barring a costly trip to costly Japan, you wouldn't have been able to have had any of Ivan's ramen. That is, until tomorrow night, July 16th, when Ivan runs Momofuku Noodle Bar's kitchen.

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Are we excited? Like you wouldn't believe. When it comes to ramen tastemakers, I can't think of a single name that's as synonymous with excellence as Mr. Orkin's. I also can't think of any other famous American ramen chefs, but that may have more to do with the limits of my experience than with the reality of the noodly pantheon.

What's on Mr. Orkin's menu? Here's an early leak to get your appetite whet and soupy:

Ivan Ramen Classic Shio Ramen: This one's about as classic as it gets. It's a chicken and dash double soup with a blend of japanese sea salts, thin rye noodles, pork belly, 6-minute egg, and hosaki menma. We're most excited about those thin rye noodles. I don't think I've ever had those in ramen or otherwise.

Ago Dashi Hiyashi Shio Ramen - This one has us the most excited. Playing with temperature in an enticing way, this dish advertises chilled flying fish dashi, flavored with lemon, blend of japanese sea salts, slow roasted tomato, and tempered with a warm chicken breast. I'm ready to stand and applaud just reading that.

Tonkotsu, Pork Fat, Bacon and Triple Garlic Mazemen - Okay, this one's going to make you gain five pounds just from reading what's in it. An innocent roasted vegetable soup base serves as the peculiar, nigh-hypocritical platform for thick whole wheat noodles, fresh, pickled, and roasted garlic, bacon, pork fat, pork neck, and chicken feet. If he pulls this off, Yuji may have to surrender his Mazemen crown.

What's our recommendation? Go with three friends, and get all three things. And get there early. The event starts at 5:30, so you're probably safe getting there at five, especially if you go with company.

We've never been particularly impressed with the Momofuku Noodle Bar, but maybe all it takes is some new blood to get things going again. More soon.

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