Gotham West Market
600 Eleventh Avenue
New York, NY 10036

While I realize that I might be beating you readers over the head with all these ramen shop reviews, it must be recognized that ramen is the new black. It's seemingly everywhere now. There's even a tourist map of the city that points out all of the most popular spots. But I promise that this one's a shortie. In fact, this time, I didn't even go to a real restaurant.

Ivan Ramen Slurp Shop is the Ivan Ramen outpost at the Gotham West Market, an upscale indoor food court of sorts on 11th Avenue in Hells Kitchen selling everything from ramen to coffee to cocktails to a store selling pots and pans and cutesy aprons. Ivan Ramen has a space at the rear wall and Myna and I went for a quick meal before walking to Broadway for a show.

Ivan Ramen as a brand, has taken off. Here comes this guy from the Long Island who moves to Japan and, with no experience, sets up a ramen restaurant which becomes wildly popular. Now he's back home with cookbooks and two Manhattan locations. Slurp Shop is one of them.

Having recently been to three or so very good ramen joints, I can safely say that what Myna and I had at Gotham West was fine, but far from the winner. Emphasis on far. Myna ordered the Classic Shoyu Ramen, a dashi and chicken broth with soy sauce, egg, and pork. Most of the other ramens that I've tried have been hearty, but the broth here verged on thin. The soy sauce was overpowering. Frankly I didn't like it and it wasn't made any better by the fact that Ivan Ramen uses rye noodles which have a grainy, gamey texture. My choice was the Spicy Red Chili Ramen. When I asked how spicy "spicy" was, I was told that it was a 9 out of 10. Good. I like hot. And hot it was. If you aren't into spice, you probably won't taste anything but the heat, but I'm used to it and although I initially didn't care for the soup, it grew on me after a few minutes. Still, the rye noodles didn't help and instead of giving you a slice of pork belly and an egg, they mash them up before putting them in. So by the end, there's a stew of pork/egg silt that's accumulated on the bottom of the bowl which doesn't taste like much of anything and is a pain to eat. So I left about an inch of goop at the bottom of the bowl. What's too bad is that this ramen had the potential to be really good, and I think that if I get it again, I'll request that they don't puree the ingredients.

Each bowl costs about $12 and you can pay extra for doubling up on the toppings. The menu at Ivan Ramen Slurp Shop is very small relative to just about any other place you go so you better like what they have and there's the distinct chance that you aren't going to. Mind you, Myna drank everything in her bowl without too much of a complaint (other than wishing that there was less soy sauce) so maybe Slurp Shop will fill your ramen craving perfectly. Personally, I'll stick with Ippudo.

Ivan Ramen Slurp Shop on Urbanspoon

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