When the cook at Ivan Ramen Slurp Shop slid a large, steaming bowl of ramen in front of me, my eyes pored over the rubber band strands of rye noodles. Roasted tomatoes, hard boiled egg, and ribboned chashu pork floated on pools of fat in the broth.
This is not your college dorm room Cup Noodles.
The ramen noodle industry has exploded in popularity in the U.S. in the last couple of years, thanks to a number of pioneering chefs. From Keizo Shimamoto’s Ramen Burger to David Chang’s Momofuku empire, “shina soba” — or “Chinese noodles” — has surpassed its status as a university cuisine staple to become a global culinary icon.
There may be just one thing holding the hordes back from America’s burgeoning ramen shops (there are more than three dozen in New York City alone): It’s difficult to eat. I felt very intimidated by the bowl in front of me. But whether you’re chopstick-challenged or embarrassed by rogue noodles dangling out of your mouth, you can learn to slurp ramen without looking silly.
I sat down with Ivan Orkin, the New York-born owner of Tokyo’s top ramen shop, and David Poran, co-owner of the newly opened outpost Ivan Ramen Slurp Shop, to chat about “The Art of the Slurp” — Orkin’s step-by-step guide to enjoying ramen.
Here’s how to eat ramen like a pro.
1. Take your chopsticks and pull a small amount of noodles from the bowl. Grab less than you think you need.
2. Lift so that the noodles are completely separated from the bowl. If they’re still “tangled with their friends” once the chopsticks are at your mouth, the noodles will tug while you try to slurp, Poran said.
3. Dip the noodles back into the bowl to mop up some of the broth and fat. Mmmm.
4. Bring the noodles to your mouth. Shape your lips like you would to aerate wine or sip really hot coffee.
5. As you slurp the noodles, “envision them riding a tunnel of air into your mouth,” Poran said. Slurp quickly, slurp loudly.
6. Find the rhythm of the noodle. This is one of Orkin’s ramen philosophies, meaning that you should naturally fall into a ritual. Slurp a little ramen, take a bite of pork, drink some broth, and repeat.
7. Once you’ve finished the noodles, bring the bowl to your mouth and empty the savory broth.
8. “There are no rules,” said Poran. Ramen is meant to be enjoyed, not fussed over. So do what feels right to you.
Thanks to Kristin Hunt for demonstrating the proper way to eat ramen!
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