Published 16 June 2022
by Henry Southan
CODE caught up with Ivan Ramen (real name Ivan Orkin) who was in town for a special one-night only chef collab dinner at Bone Daddies. The star of Netflix Chef’s Table told us what makes a perfect ramen, where he likes to eat in London and what his favourite comfort food is.
A ramen is actually really hard to make because it has to be very well balanced. In order for it to be really enjoyable to eat the soup needs to sort of stick to the noodles when you slurp it up. If there’s not enough fat and flavour in the bowl then the noodle kind of tastes naked. A perfect ramen should really have all these balances and there should be harmony in the bowl. There’s so many different styles, different flavours, different broths and toppings and noodles that you know, I think it’d be a little cocky to say that one kind or another is a proper bowl. There’s so many different kinds. But I think that’s always the way I start. There needs to be harmony and balance.
I haven’t been in London for a while but I went to St. John which has been on my bucket list. I’ve had the pleasure of hanging out with Fergus a couple of times and I have all of his books. I’ve read them cover to cover many times and I’ve always wanted to go. I’ve just been having trouble getting back to London for whatever weird reason. It was way beyond anything I’d ever imagined. It was so very delicious. We had the best time. The staff were lovely, we had a great time chatting. Every dish we ate was great and we ate way too much and I’m still full.
Instead of death row, I’ll say deathbed, hoping that I’m not on death row, and that I’m actually just dying peacefully in a bed. It’s hard to say but I suppose I would default to the perfect sushi meal. There’s a lot of things I really love, but a really perfect sushi meal is so fantastic. Either that or very good pizza. And I know they’re really different, one’s quite elegant and the other one, maybe not as much, but I’m particularly obsessed with pizza. So maybe if whoever made these rules up would let me have both I would do both.
My comfort food is funny. I grew up with a mum who didn’t care for cooking much. So I have no mum comfort food. So all my comfort food is from my wife and from my family. She’s from Japan, and I lived there for many years. When I’m sick, I have a bowl of Okayu which is a sort of rice porridge. I love omurice, which is chicken ketchup rice with an omelette on top and ketchup all over it. I love a big bowl of udon in a nice dashi broth. At home we eat Japanese food 70-80% of the time and so my comfort food really is all of these sort of Japanese comfort meals.
Boy, I would hope so. Now that this pandemic is sort of behind us, hopefully there’ll be a new normal and we’re moving through to something new. We are working on a franchising model at the moment. We’re here in London, we’re in Paris, we’re in Brussels. We’re kind of bopping around the world meeting people and seeing how it’s possible to expand the Ivan ramen brand. So we would very much like to have a couple of shops everywhere so we could, at a minimum, make a little money and have a reason to travel.