U.S. chef serves oodles of noodles to hungry Tokyo
By Chika Osaka
TOKYO (Reuters Life!) - Tokyo is full of hungry Japanese queuing outside noodle shops, but the line is usually longer at Ivan Ramen, where diners are greeted by the rare sight of a U.S. chef doling out bowls of a Japanese national obsession.
Ramen, originally a Chinese recipe of broth, noodles and various toppings, is a culinary delight closer to the hearts of most Japanese than sushi or tempura.
At Ivan Ramen, which has only 10 seats and a tiny kitchen, New Yorker Ivan Orkin fills up bowls with a measured amount of oil, fat and flavoring, pours soup over the mix and finishes it off by adding perfectly boiled noodles.
His recipe is a hit with the locals, and since opening in June 2007, the number of customers has increased dramatically, with Orkin and his team now making some 200 bowls a day.
"I've heard so much about Ivan Ramen so I used my holiday to come here," said diner Norikazu Fukai, who drove more than two hours to taste the ramen.
Orkin, a self-confessed ramen addict, said he got hooked on the noodles as a teenager working at a Japanese restaurant in New York. He went on to work as a chef in French restaurants, but then quit to study Japanese in college.
He went on to teach English in Japan and finally settled in this ramen-loving country in 2003 to master the dish.
SOUL FOOD Continued...