Book Reviews

Ivan Ramen
by Ivan Ramen

Third Thursday Potluck Cookbook
by Nancy Vienneau

Mint Tea & Minarets
by Kitty Morse

Prospero’s Kitchen
by Diana Farr Louis and June Marino

Mushroom: A Global History
by Cynthia Bertelsen

One Straw Revolution
by Masanobu Fukuoka

Fried Walleye & Cherry Pie
by Peggy Wolff

Day of Honey: A Memoir of Food, Love, and War
by Annia Ciezadlo

unrest
by Chloe Yelena Miller

The Hungry Ear
by Kevin Young

Best Food Writing 2012
by Holly Hughes

Dinner: a Love Story
by Jenny Rosenstrach

My Kitchen Wars
by Betty Fussell

American Cookery
by Laura Kalpakian

Apron Anxiety
by Alyssa Shelasky

Cucina Povera
by Pamela Sheldon Johns

Home Cooking: A Writer in the Kitchen
by Laurie Colwin

The Social Life of Coffee
by Brian Cowan

The Raw and the Cooked
by Jim Harrison

Modernist Cuisine
by Nathan Myhrvold, Chris Young, and Maxime Bilet

Horsemen of the Esophagus
by Jason Fagone

Coffee Philosophy for Everyone
by Scott F. Parker and Michael W. Austin

Corked
by Kathryn Borel

Food Rules
by Michael Pollan

On Reading
by Rilke and Ruskin

America the Edible
by Adam Richman

Interview with the author of Party Girls,
Diane Goodman

Death Warmed Over
by Lisa Rogak

How to Cook a Crocodile
by Bonnie Lee Black

Great Food,
All Day Long

by Maya Angelou

Love Bites: Marital Skirmishes in the Kitchen
by Christopher Hirst

Best Food Writing 2011
edited by Holly Hughes

Balzac's Omelette
by Anka Muhlstein

The Little House Cookbook
by Barbara M. Walker

Muffins and Mayhem
by Suzanne Beecher

As Always, Julia:
The Letters of Julia Child and Avis De Voto

More...

Boozehound
by Jason Wilson

The Particular Sadness
of Lemon Cake

by Aimee Bender

The Bluberry Years
by Jim Minick

Livingston and the Tomato
by A. W. Livingston

Tomatoland
by Barry Estabrook

Palmento: A Sicilian Wine Odyssey
by Robert V. Camuto

Best Food Writing 2010 edited
by Holly Hughes

Curry
by Lizzie Collingham

Four Fish
by Paul Greenberg

The Physiology
of Taste

by Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin

Far Flung
and Well Fed

by R. W. Apple, Jr.

The Food of a Younger Land
by Mark Kurlansky

The Dirty Life
by Kristin Kimball

Ratio
by Michael Ruhlman

Cooking with Italian Grandmothers
by Jessica Theroux

Blood, Bones & Butter
by Gabrielle Hamilton

Candyfreak
by Steve Almond

The Alice B. Toklas Cook Book
by Alice B. Toklas

Medium Raw
by Anthony Bourdain

Appetite City
by William Grimes

Twain's Feast
by Andrew Beahrs

97 Orchard
by Jane Ziegelman

Born Round
by Frank Bruni

Cakewalk
by Kate Moses

Full English by
Tom Parker Bowles

Following Fish by
Samanth Subramanian

Eating Animals by
Jonathan Safran Foer

Immortal Milk: Adventures in Cheese
by Eric LeMay

For You, Mom. Finally
by Ruth Reichl

Farm City
by Novella Carpenter

Alone in the Kitchen with an Eggplant
edited by Jenni Ferrari-Adler

I ♥ Macarons
by Hisako Ogita

The Hamburger
by Josh Ozersky

Best Food Writing 2009 edited
by Holly Hughes

Gastrology
by Archestratos

Eat, Memory edited by Amanda Hesser

Eat My Globe
by Simon Majumdar

Eating
by Jason Epstein

What We Eat When We Eat Alone
by Deborah Madison

The Sweet Life
in Paris

by David Lebovitz

Modern Spice
by Monica Bhide

Ivan Ramen: Love, Obsession and Recipes from Tokyo’s Most Unlikely Noodle Joint

 

by Ivan Ramen
Ten Speed Press, 2013
224 pages
ISBN: 978-1607744467

Review by Kim Jordan

For five glorious years while living in Kamakura, Japan, we ate noodles to our hearts' content— thick white udon noodles, dark and light buckwheat soba noodles, chewy curling yellow ramen noodles, and still other kinds of noodles like somen. On weekends we lined up at a clean well-lit udon shop, Miyoshi, known for its smoky tori-jiro chicken stock and made as you watched udon noodles with a side of tempura. Our favorite soba, darker, country style, buckwheat noodles, were served at Nakamura-an. Surprisingly, we found our favorite ramen source in Yokosuka, Japan, right outside the back gate of the U.S. Navy base.


Kim Jordan and husband with Ivan Ramen in NYC

While diners waited, the silent ramen master prepared each bowl with the choreographed moves of a dancer— shaking baskets of perfectly cooked noodles, scooping bowls of sauce, and arranging thinly sliced roast pork over clear broth with yellow noodles aesthetically arranged with a twirl of the chopsticks. This was amidst a soundtrack of jazz tunes, slurping diners, and pinging timers. Each bowl was garnished with green mizuna leaves, sheets of crisp black nori, and two red goji berries. These five colors of washoku Japanese home cooking-- black, white, yellow, green, and red-- made a visually appealing bowl that was also amazing to eat.

When our days in Japan ended, so too did our accessibility to these awesome noodle bowls. Desire and cravings simmered on the back burner of our minds. That is until I encountered Ivan Orkin , a.k.a. Ivan Ramen a Jewish chef from New York on Youtube speaking Japanese and making ramen. After reposting it, a Japanese friend asked, "Is it a true story of this guy?" Turns out, he is real, a Japanophile, and he has ramen shops in both Tokyo and New York City.

In his new book, Ivan Ramen: Love, Obsession, and Recipes from Tokyo's Most Un-likely Noodle Joint, the Culinary Institute of America trained chef reveals the exacting standards he utilized in kitchens like Bobby Flay’s Mesa Grill and Lutece in Manhattan, for making and preparing ramen. Recipes are included for each component of Ivan’s ramen: chicken fat, pork fat, shio tare salt seasoning, sofrito aromatic vegetable base, katsuobushi seasoned salt, double soup stock, toasted rye noodles, menma cured bamboo shoots, chashu braised pork belly, and the beloved, in Japan, half-cooked egg.

The book is the closest I've come to comprehending the scoops, techniques, and composition that go into making a bowl of ramen like those found in Japan. It also offers fascinating detail on the evolution of this street food, the who's who, and how to not only prepare, but eat ramen-- you must slurp hot noodles by sucking in cool air, this means making noise, to get the ramen from the bowl into your mouth, and yes, it may dribble on your chin. He explains how to make ramen at home, but you will need great ingredients, lots of time, a weight scale, and a thermometer. Why would anyone spend so much time making ramen? You fall in love with the noodles.

Ivan ramen’s story about how he got to this point in life, in the kitchen, and in the dual locations of New York and Japan are shared in a warm open-hearted way that contrasts with his sharp city demeanor on display in the video which feels more New York than Tokyo. But the ramen…ah!!...that is authentic Japanese.

Gaijin Tips for Eating Ramen:
- Eat! Don’t talk
- Slurp! Suck in cool air along with a mouthful of hot noodles and fat
- It’s about the food, don’t mind the noise
- Ramen is not gluten free
- Dribbles on your chin are to be expected
- Drink all of the broth
- If you’re desperate for ramen, you can make your own