Stories from Momofuku's "Invader from Planet Ramen"

July 19, 2012 5:08 PM EDT | By Anthony Smith
Ivan Orkin
Momofuku Noodle Bar in a post-Orkin world. (Photo: Creative Commons)

Ah, the best thing to happen to Momofuku Noodle Bar since paying your check and getting out of there has come and gone. And perhaps we're being too cruel, considering that the particularly generous choice to let Ivan Orkin, head chef and noodle sensei from Ivan Ramen, one of the most dazzling ramen joints in Setagaya, guest helm the kitchen for one glorious night.

Last Tuesday, at 5:30 PM, Momofuku Noodle Bar opened its doors to the scores of ramen die-hards who'd lined up to try Mr. Orkin's first attempt at filling state-side gullets with his creations. People who got there early were treated to a fresh take on the classic that used thin rye noodles and an expert blend of japanese sea salts; a chilled ramen that played the temperature and tastes of chilled flying fish and warm chicken breast against one another; and, most compellingly, a mazamen that combined three different cuts of pork with three different preparations of garlic.

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The result? The Momofuku Noodle Bar gets some much needed new life. At about 5:15 PM, fifteen minutes before the shop opened its doors for dinner, the line for Mr. Orkin's noodles snaked around the block. Ippudo doesn't even enjoy that kind of publicity.

Unfortunately, by 7:30 PM, Ivan Ramen was all out of noodles. This isn't a criticism; if anything, it's high-praise. This happens to even the best of ramen restaurants, and who could have predicted that the buzz for Mr. Orkin's ramen would have built to such a fever pitch? To all of those who got into the restaurant but could not be served ramen, a Momofuku Noodle Bar rep has promised that you'll be invited back again for a second ramen night. We just hope you're in town for it.

At FoodNRecipe, we can be particularly hard on Mr. Chang. But we're astonished and moved that he's using the merits of his considerable platform to spotlight worthy chefs. We're sure that Mr. Orkin will take the Chang boon and run with it. We're excited to see what lies in store.

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