Ivan Orkin, chef and owner of Ivan Ramen, helped jumpstart a ramen revolution in New York when he opened his first stateside spot in 2013. Orkin, who has lived and worked as a chef in Japan, has a wide-ranging palate and is an avid supporter of NYC restaurateurs, ramen-focused and otherwise. Check out his favorite restaurants on Caviar and find out what makes them worth the hype.
Ivan and Nicholas Morgenstern became friends because of ice cream. Ivan was a fan, and kept showing up at Nicholas's counter. But Morgenstern's isn't just renowned for his premium sundaes. “Just when I thought I figured Morgenstern’s out, owner Nicholas comes up with an amazing burger program that rivals any in the city,” says Orkin, of Morgenstern's other concept, Morgenstern's Burgers, Pies, and Fries. His recommendation? “Get a burger and a pint of Rick and Marty ice cream, and the experience is complete … at least until the next time.”
Ivan Orkin launched his eponymous ramen restaurant so he could bring the Japanese ramen shop experience to NYC. Being a regular at your own restaurant is a sure sign that there’s quality and care in every bite (or slurp).
The always-bustling Daily Provisions from Danny Meyer’s Union Square Hospitality Group has been a neighborhood hit since opening in 2017. They’ve got four lively locations around Manhattan, and the intimate spots serve up a variety of breakfast items, pastries, sandwiches, and dinner items, which makes it an anytime-of-the-day favorite.
Even in a city that is practically synonymous with pizza, there’s always room for improvement. Enter Orkin and culinary consultant David Poran, who teamed up with former Ivan Ramen chef Michael Bergemann, to open Corner Slice in 2017 in the Gotham West Market. The secret to its praises from food critics in Eater, New York Magazine, The New York Times, and Serious Eats, lies in its proprietary crust recipe, which guarantees a crispy crunch in every bite.
There have always been great pho spots in NYC, but Hanoi House has put Vietnamese cuisine front and center and garnered all kinds of media praise. The unassuming St. Mark’s Place establishment is renowned for its bold flavors and laid-back atmosphere.
For nearly a decade, Il Buco Alimentari and Vineria has been a magnet for relaxed, rustic food. “My pal Justin Smillie is back at the helm here and he doesn’t disappoint. He’s introduced his namesake pizza that you can get to go, and he continually raises the bar with new seasonal dishes that are so good you can’t wait for your next visit.”
Almost 30 years ago, Joe’s Shanghai set in motion the soup dumpling movement in New York, first in Flushing and later in Manhattan. The newest location on the Bowery, barely a few years young, is still run by founder Mei Ping Matsumura and chef Kiu Sang (that’s “Joe”), and of course serves those signature dumplings along with a robust menu of Shanghainese classics.
The best chefs are only competitive with themselves, which is why Orkin happily frequents the ramen and bun destination from chef David Chang. A paradise for pork lovers since 2004, the East Village restaurant is a great place to pick up a few pork buns or a bowl of noodles. Soon enough you’ll have eaten your way through the whole menu.
Chef Shigetoshi “Jack” Nakamura has been called “Japanese ramen royalty” by New York Magazine, and for good reason. Nakamura has been creating satisfying and stunning ramen for more than 20 years and counts both Orkin and David Chang as fans. He was hailed as one of only four "Ramen Gods” in Japan and started his own shop when he was 22. He later brought his talents to Manhattan, opening this must-try ramen spot in 2016.
This West Village temaki bar from partners Taka Sakaeda, Jihan Lee, and Lisa Limb aims to create an accessible experience, and it succeeds. Founded on principles of quality and creativity with a respect for traditional techniques, Nami Nori specializes in open-style sushi hand rolls complemented by a well-curated selection of appetizers.
This unassuming East Village restaurant has been serving Japanese comfort food to satisfied customers since 2016. Chef Norihiro Ishizuka brings 60 years of experience to the table, a fact not lost on Orkin. Of the noodle-centric spot, he says, “When people ask me where to get Japanese food in New York, this is where I tell them. It is hands down my family’s number-one go-to restaurant for udon. Really, really good."