Situated off a shopping street in suburban Kyodo, the restaurant’s design is clean and functional. Bright and modern, the fit-out features a long wooden counter with surprisingly comfortable plastic chairs.
The “plus” does not denote “better” or abundance. Although half-joking that he should have called the new joint “Ivan’s Noodles,” Orkin sees this restaurant as a vehicle for more experimental culinary creations.
Case in point: the cheese mazemen (from ¥780). Continuing the cross-cultural noodle exchange allegedly instigated by Marco Polo all those years ago, Orkin brings Mediterranean flair to a Japanese staple, pointedly marrying al dente noodles and quattro formaggi—mozzarella, Hokkaido white cheese, edam and parmesan—in a creamy white broth. When glistening chashu and an optional onsen-tamago (slow-poached egg) are added, it makes for a deconstructed carbonara, albeit one with a decidedly dashi twist.
Dashi soup without meat stock is the point of difference at the new kitchen. While shio (salt) and soy-based ramen is on the menu, the ago-dashi ramen (from ¥780) brims with DHA. Made out of ago (dried flying fish) with dried scallop and dried shrimp, among other ingredients, the ramen is full of depth but imparts a light, clean flavor. For purists concerned about a broth made without pork or chicken, don’t worry—the ago-dashi punches well above its weight.
Another departure is the noodles. Orkin’s noodles are made in-house and decidedly different from those found at your run-of-the-mill ramen joint.
At Ivanramen Plus, most of the noodles are of the hira-uchi (wide, flat) variety. The noodles in the vegetable soymilk tsukemen (noodles served separately from a bowl of dipping soup; from ¥780) are made from stone-ground wheat. Populated with potatoes, carrots and garlic, the soymilk broth is heady, redolent comfort food.
But it’s the noodles in a colorful, seasonal dish, Orkin’s roasted summer vegetable hayashi-chuka (chilled ramen noodles; from ¥980), that are the day’s winner. Flecked with wholewheat that has been toasted before being ground, these noodles are a toothsome foil to the slippery mound of okra, tomato, eggplant and other vegetables perched on top.