Saturday, June 28, 2014

[Ramen Adventure #5] Ivan Ramen: Upscale Ramen Joint

The first week Ivan Orkin opened his actual ramen shop (not to be confused with its slurp shop location in Hell's Kitchen) in Lower East Side, I immediately rushed myself over for its famous triple garlic mazemen.

Ivan Ramen has a super sleek interior; you won't believe you're going to eat Japanese food here! A hostess at front would sit you down when you enter. As always, I chose to sit at the bar/counter because I love to get a good view of the kitchen. (I'm not a stalker. I just like to see how every kitchen performs in general)

Looking at their menu, the prices are on the expensive side. The only reasonable priced appetizer are the roast pork musubi and pork meatballs. So I ordered the $6 musubi (another name for onigiri rice ball) along with the $15 triple garlic mazemen.

Roast Pork Musubi, $6
Toppings: roast pork, roast tomato, salted plum wasabi

The musubi is like an unfinished sushi to me. A tiny ball of rice is placed in the middle of a triangular seadweed, topped with warm roast pork and plum-flavored tomato. The musubi tastes really good actually. The only down thing is there are only 2 pieces in 1 order.

Triple Garlic Mazemen, $15
Broth: tonkotsu broth
Noodles: whole wheat noodles
Toppings: pork chashu, scallions, bean sprouts, garlic flakes

Up next, I tried the garlic mazemen everyone has been talking about. When the bowl is placed on your table, you can immediately smell a fragrant garlic scent; the whole bowl is loaded with savory garlic flakes! Unfortunately, even after an appetizer and a bowl of ramen, I was still not full. So when I decided to order another bowl of ramen, I did feel a little embarrassed. Even the hostess gave me a "wow" look when she took my order (LOL).

Classic Shoyu Ramen, $13
Broth: soy sauce + dashi + chicken broth
Noodles: rye noodles
Toppings: pork chashu, scallions, bean sprouts

The classic shoyu ramen is an extremely simple dish: a piece of pork chashu and a bunch of scallions laying on top of rye noodles. The broth has a dense soy sauce and dashi flavors, however, it's not good enough to stand out unlike the garlic mazemen, which is a must-try on Ivan Ramen's menu.


Despite the inadequate portion sizes and the expensive bill for 1 person, Ivan Ramen delivers an unique side of the ramen we never seen before. It's definitely not a traditional Japanese restaurant. If you want to enjoy your Japanese meal in a modern, chic place, visit Ivan Ramen and you won't be disappointed.

25 Clinton St, New York, NY 10002

Friday, June 27, 2014

[Ramen Adventure #4] Ramen.Co By Keizo Shimamoto: Dream Come True

In January, I found out through a customer at work that Keizo Shimamoto, creator of Ramen Burger, is opening a ramen shop in the Financial District. I saw that coming ever since they debut their burger of summer 2013 at Smorgasburg: thousands of people are willing to wait in line every weekend just to have a taste of the original Ramen Burger, even until now. With Keizo's background and his influence in the ramen community, his new restaurant is going to be a strong newcomer in the city.

Keizo and his staff at soft-opening week
Ramen Burger with chips
This new ramen shop, named Ramen.Co, was finally opened in April and is now opened daily until 8pm. A majority of the customers come for the Ramen Burger, but I'm more excited to try the ramen. Keizo truly loves ramen and has always had a ramen dream (watch the video here). Knowing his love and dedication to this Japanese comfort food, his ramen won't disappoint us.

And it didn't. During their soft opening, I came into the restaurant 30 minutes before they close at 2pm and still saw crowds lingering inside the restaurant. The place is like a food court: you order up front, and cooks (including Keizo himself) will cook your food at each mini food stations. Not many seats are available: there are roughly 4 little tables near the entrance then a bar that fits about 10 people. I was worried if I had to get my food to go, but luckily one customer by the bar left right after I got my food so I rushed over, took his seat, and was ready to enjoy my bowl of Brooklyn Blend Ramen.

Brooklyn Blend Ramen, $12
Broth: tonkotsu shoyu soy sauce broth
Noodles: straight
Toppings: 2 pieces of pork or chicken, onion, scallion slices, seaweed

Said to be inspired by the art in Brooklyn, this ramen features a tonkotsu soup base with a blend of black garlic oil. The presentation looks strikingly similar to Bassanova's ramen, which I'm not surprised due to Keizo's previous work experience at Japan's Bassanova.

I always taste the soup first because it's kind of like the best thing about ramen. The soup is smooth and moderately rich. Not greasy or overwhelming at all. Al dente straight noodles are topped with 4 slices of tender pork belly, kikurage mushroom, fried garlic, and scallion.  Pork is cold, so you must soak it into the hot soup. I guess not many places grill their pork prior placing them in the bowl. Overall I was really satisfied and can't wait to try the other two ramen on the menu, Wakayama Shoyu and Hakata Shio.

You won't get the typical restaurant vibe at Ramen.Co., but it's the food that matters after all. Everything is organized and well cleaned so far. Not to mention Keizo is a very down to earth man who is driven to educate authentic ramen culture to the world. His story is inspiring and I'm glad to see his ramen dream come true! Can't wait to return to Ramen.Co!

FYI: After a series of testing, Keizo is currently selling hiyashi chuka (cold ramen) at Ramen.Co. For more information, you can check out this review here.

100 Maiden Ln New York, NY 10038

(Theme picture is from Keizo Shimamoto)

Hiyashi Chuka (Cold Ramen) Now Available At Ramen.Co

 After my initial visit in April, I know I'll be back to Ramen.Co for more awesome ramen.

I made my return when I found out about the new hiyashi chuka (cold ramen) on Keizo Shimamoto's Instagram. Almost all ramen shops would offer cold ramen during summer. But what makes Ramen.Co's version stand out is its simplicity and freshness. I got the cold ramen to go and it was still tasteful after a few hours. I believe Keizo uses a simple vinaigrette-based tare for the flavoring. It definitely brings out the aroma of fresh vegetables.

P.S. Keizo's kitchen also makes great eggs! Look at the yolk in the picture above!

(Theme picture is from Keizo Shimamoto)

Thursday, May 29, 2014

10 Impressive Egg Desserts You Should Know

Eggs are widely used in many types of dishes, both sweet and savory, including many baked goods. In this article, we'll focus on desserts that use eggs as the main and irreplaceable ingredient. You probably know some of the following ones already. But as you scroll down the list, you would be impressed by how eggs can transform food in many different ways.

10. Egg Custard 

Egg custard is a standard egg dessert in many cultures. But have you seen it in an actual egg shell?

 9. Crème Brûlée

The signature thing about creme brulee? The hard caramel layer that topped the custard!

8. Soufflé

A puffy French delicacy made with egg yolks and beaten egg whites.

7. Egg Tart

Buttery crust filled with warm egg custard, this is the most popular Asian dessert of all time!

6. Steamed Eggs

This is super simple to make: just add water and sugar into beaten eggs, then steam it!

5. Frozen Custard

Similar to ice cream but has a much smoother and richer tasting, frozen custard is made with eggs in addition to cream and sugar.

4. Ovos Moles De Aveiro 

(Portuguese Egg Yolk Confection)

A local delicacy from Aveiro District, Portugal, ovos moles are made of egg yolks and sugar.

 3. Egg Biscuit Rolls

Don't be confused with the American Chinese egg roll, this dessert egg roll (蛋捲) is very crunchy and flaky and is more known in the Southern region of China.

2. Deep-fried Egg White Filled With Red Beans


Originated from Beijing, this deep-fried dessert is made with highly beaten egg whites, flour, corn starch, and bean paste (or other sweet paste).

1. Egg Shaved Ice (月見冰)

This traditional Taiwanese shaved ice has a beautiful Chinese name: "moon sees ice." It's really simple to make, just add condensed milk over shaved ice, then crack a raw egg on top!

Enjoy this dessert article? Make sure to check out our articles on matcha green desserts and shaved ice too!

Happy National Egg Day! 

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

New Summer Ramen and Appetizer at Ganso Ramen

Ever since I visited Ganso a few months ago, I have fallen in love with their exquisite menu items. Now their summer specials have returned, of course I would make my return to the restaurant.

New Appetizer

The one new appetizer on Ganso's summer menu is Calamari Tempura ($8). What's the best thing about it? It's bonito mayo dipping sauce! It's amazing --- rich and savory. They only give you a little basket of fried calamari. At the price of $8, I wouldn't get it again. But for first timers, please order it because the sauce is the bomb!

Summer Ramen Special - Hiyashi Chuka

When summer comes, expect to see Hiyashi Chuka, aka Japanese cold noodles, at almost every ramen shop! Ganso's Hiyashi Chuka contains flavors of pork cheek fat and yuzu-soy sauce vinaigrette. These flavors made the dish so refreshing and light. Highly recommended. The only downvote would be its price ($14).

Friday, May 16, 2014

12 Crazy Sushi Art You Have to See

Sushi is simple, elegant, and obviously delicious. But some people like to be creative with this Japanese food, using different shapes and colors to create a plate of art you don't normally see at a restaurant. Some are artsy, some are just so crazy that you would be like, WTF did I just see?


What an educational sushi!


Hello Kitty fans would die for this


This guy likes his iPhone too much


I don't get this...


Nor this...seriously WTF?


This Obama sushi roll is actually pretty cute


Awww this is too cute to eat


You need some effort to make this Cleopatra sushi!


If you can make a Cleopatra sushi, why not turn some bald guys into sushi too?


This guy recreated Van Gogh's "Flower" with sushi -- talented!


I dig this "Like" button sushi!


And let's not forget "naked sushi," where you eat sushi and sashimi right off a naked model. Kinky...


Would you try to make these overly creative sushi? If you decided to make some, don't forget to share with us after you're done!

Monday, May 5, 2014

11 Must-Try Shaved Ice Around the World

Summer is just as brutal as icy cold winter: whenever you walk outside you would feel like you're being melted by hot summer air and all you want to eat is ice cream or popsicles. But have you ever considered shaved ice as another summer must eat?
Shaved ice is just a generic name for a bunch of ice-based dessert. It's believed that the Roman Emperor Nero invented this dessert: record shows he sent slaves to nearby mountains to collect ice then flavored the retrieved ice with a honey and fruits mixture. Nowadays shaved ice is generally made of fine shavings of ice or crushed ice top with various sweet condiments of syrups. This simple frozen treat is enjoyed by everyone around the world, but every culture has its own form and variation. 

Snow Cones & Sno-ball - America

Perhaps the simplest shaved ice among the others, snow cones are often flavored with just fruit syrups. Some regional variations would top the ice with a fruit-cream mixture (below) or marshmallow cream.


Piragua - Puerto Rico

Made in pyramid shapes, piraguas are sold by street vendors in Puerto Rican neighborhoods, especially in New York and Philadelphia.

Baobing/Chhoah-peng - China, Taiwan


Toppings generally include fresh fruits, syrup, condensed milk, grass jelly, sweetened beans, and glutinous rice balls. Some shops in Taiwan even made a savory twist on shaved ice. The owners use seafood ingredients as toppings and flavor everything with shrimp paste. The picture below is just one of their exotic examples.


Kakigori - Japan

The regular kakigori is usually flavored with plain or fruit flavored syrups. But a lot of shops in Japan sell different varieties of kakigori in the summer, like strawberry and green tea.

Patbingsu - Korea

Recently ranked by BuzzFeed as one of the top summer frozen treats to try, this Korean version of shaved ice features sweetened red beans and canned fruits as main ingredients. Believe or not, the starting price in NYC is $12 at Korean bakeries. Would you spend $12 just to try ice, beans and fruits?

Halo-halo - Philippine

You would recognize Halo-halo by its bright colors! Typical ingredients include ube (purple yam), taro/ube ice cream, nata jelly, red beans and flan. A Quiet Nerdy Thing provides a good ingredients diagram here.

Ais Kacang / ABC - Malaysia, Singapore

In the beginning, red beans were the only topping for ABC. Now you would often see basil seeds, corn, condensed milk on every ABC.

Nam Kang Sai - Thailand

The one thing that differentiates Nam Kang Sai from other Asian shaved ice is that the ice is always on top of the toppings.

Chuski - India

Ice on a stick! A low-cost summer treat in India, chuski is similar to regular snow cones except it can also be flavored with local flavors like rose and khus, then topped with condensed milk.

Raspados - Mexico, Colombia, Panama, Venezuela

These frozen treats are often topped with condensed milk and various fruit flavors.

Granizados - Costa Rica

When they have ice cream on the top, granizados are called "churchillls" instead.

Do you have other recommendation? Comment below and share with us!