Friday, February 4, 2011

Great Guys Behind Great Ramen - Bassanova & Ivan Ramen

I feel like I've been following Keizo's Go Ramen! blog at least as long as I've been blogging myself. Funny that it was Tokyo where we'd finally get to meet and not L.A... You see, the ramen crazed Keizo after trekking several times over through Japan on his ultimate ramen journeys, he had one day decided to return and live his ramen dream of actually working at his favorite shops and learn the craft of great ramen making. First under the wing of New York native Ivan Orkin's Ivan Ramen, and now currently at his favorite ramen shop Bassanova. How cool is that?

I had to try the famous Green Curry Ramen. The flavored aji-tama egg which I forgot to purchase a ticket for was on Keizo. Thanks dude! ;)

Wow. It's definitely creamy tonkotsu, and it's definitely Thai green curry, and I could even taste hints of distinctively Japanese gyokai fish flavors doing some dancing with the stars act with that of Thai nam pla. A wonderful balancing act of fusion going on here with a lot of thought and attention going into every detail. It's also quite powerful and rich and the thicker chewy noodles from Mikawaya Seimen holds it all together nicely. The flavored egg was wonderfully hanjyuku soft boiled and one of the best I've had.. (Another great read, one of Brian of Ramen Adventures post on Bassa.)

Thanks Keizo for the great experience and wish you the best in following your dream! Hope to visit again soon.

Next is Ivan Ramen which I've posted before in my shameless use of friends travel photos for my blog content. The NY native Ivan Orkin has successfully made a name for his style of ramen in the intensely competitive arena of Tokyo, and this feat is truly not to be taken lightly.

I really wanted to try his signature rye noodles but with the lack of research or forgetfulness I discovered it was only offered with the tsukemen. I got the Shoyu Everything Ramen which was still great. This was delicate and balanced and a bowl I could have everyday (毎日食べれる!).
It had enough of the guilty pleasures of what good ramen should offer while somehow feeling surprisingly healthy at the same time. The thinner wavy noodles worked perfectly with the soup and everything came together to become one single entity, which is also how a good bowl should be.. And I agree with the narrator on the linked vid, Ramen isn't so much eaten but inhaled.

Later I got to chat with Ivan as well and he was the coolest most easiest to talk to guy. He explained to me how he's not judgmental when it comes to ramen and that he simply makes the ramen that he would want to eat. In some cases using schmaltz or even vegetable oil to still give a similar mouth feel that people expect without having to rely on lard. His shop is one of the relatively few that actually make the noodles in house.

Ivan has published a book some time ago but in Japanese. But he did say there's a second coming out soon that'll be in English. Sweet. I'll be keeping an eye on that. :)

Thanks Ivan for your time. It was a great pleasure to meet and talk ramen with you! :)


K and S said...

green curry ramen sounds interestingly delicious :)

KirkK said...

Man that looks great! Let me know when Ivan's book comes out...... I'll want to grab a copy!

caninecologne said...

i liked your "photo"!

Dennis K. said...

Hi K&S, this version was well thought out. :)

Hi Kirk, I just emailed Ivan. Says the book probably won't be out till summer in Japan and end of the year in the U.S. I'll be sure to let you know!

Thanks CC! I missed your one with the jollibee mascot!! ;)

OkiHwn said...

Nice, nice ramen!

Sawyer said...

wow...looks like you ate quite well over there my friend. given all your knowledge, i'm waiting for a ramen post where you make your own =) ate a ichiban, pretending it was what you ate...i think there is one place in davis that makes ramen...will have to try it out one of these days. lovin all the posts though

Dennis K. said...

Hi Nate, they were! And I have just a few more to share soon.. :)

Hey Sawyer! Hope you're doing well. Na, I just try to share the little I do know. Way far from being any expert. Love it though and always eager to learn (eat) more and then share on my blog.
My friends tried making a chicken, kelp and dried fish based shoyu ramen from scratch and it was a heck of a lot of work (took the entire previous day tending the stock alone, rest over night then reducing the next day) but was very rewarding. If we ever do it again I'll be sure to document it. :)

edjusted said...

Dennis, great reviews. I'm glad you had the chance to try out Bassanova & Ivan first hand!

Dennis K. said...

Hi Ed! It was fun. The cold weather made it perfect visits too. At Ivan the sun was setting and crows were cawing! Was great. :)