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From Tokyo to New York City.

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Tokyo Shoyu Ramen

It was almost the end of our New York City trip when our lovely hosts brought us out to Ivan Ramen on Manhattan’s Lower East Side. I was excited like a little child before Christmas as I missed my chance to check out his original shop in Tokyo during my last trip with the boys in 2014. The place is fairly small but pretty nicely set up with some colorful twisted wall art and nicely dimmed, yet still sufficient lighting to take halfway acceptable pictures without using a flash. Let’s do this.

I had a bit of a hard time deciding, which bowl I should get as there was everything I love on the menu – shoyu, tsukemen etc., even a couple of seasonal dishes. My gut told me to go with something traditional after that brilliant chilled contemporary beef ramen at Momofuku Noodle Bar the other day. I have a copy of Ivan’s book, so I did tend towards his signature shio ramen, which is explained in a step by step guide on the last pages and I thought that if I ever get around to try making it, this could be a reference moment. However, a friend had already ordered one so I switched midst order process to a bowl of shoyu ramen instead. Excitement grew stronger and just the looks of it gave me confidence, that this was going to be good. The chicken-based broth was dark of soy, had depth and was full of salty flavor and light dashi aroma. So good. The rye noodles, they use for this one, are very thin with a lovely bouncy texture, the eggs were still a bit runny but just seconds away from that perfect waxy state and the chashu just melted away in my mouth. That’s also why I felt a bit offended by the guy on the next table, who, without even trying, just neglected all of his beautiful pork belly away on the side. What a waste. Moving on and after trying mine and every other bowl on our table, I realized, that here’s so much more goodness to have had here and that I really need to come back to this shop some day. So wait for me tsukemen.

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L.E.S. Buns

For starters we tried their L.E.S. (Lower East Side, I assume) buns, which combine the two cultures and cuisines this shop stands for, Japanese and Jewish, Tokyo and NYC. The Japanese influence was represented by the fluffy steamed buns and the crunchy daikon slaw, while the Jewish and NYC touch came from the wonderfully juicy pastrami and the ass kicking spicy mustard. Great combination of flavors, globalization right there on my plate.

Service here was super friendly, attentive and fast and the place is like a trendy but low-key New York version of a ramen shop you want to spend some more time in, than just your 10-15 minutes slurping on your bowl of noodles. Nice concept, amazing food, more complementing than contrasting, I’m sold.

Get Your Grub On!

Ivan Ramen NYC (open ever day)
25 Clinton Street
New York
NY 10002
United States of America
p: +1 646 678 3859
http://www.ivanramen.com/

Sitting in the park, waiting for you.

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Bacon Cheeseburger & Crinkle Cut Fries

One of the things I had to do whilst in New York was finally hitting Shake Shack. We arrived after the big lunch crowd so the queue wasn’t too bad and it took us just 15 minutes to reach the front and another 10 minutes for them to get our orders out. I must have mixed up something when placing my order as we did get the burgers without the lettuce, tomatoes and all. Just plain bacon cheeseburgers and unfortunately, I realized it a little too late to change it back.

It was a decent tasty burger, nicely sized and grilled. The buns were proper, didn’t dampen the flavours and overall held their part of the deal. The meat, however tasty, was a bit underseasoned for my liking. I know they take special pride in the natural flavours of their beef, but I just wished for a pinch of extra salt and maybe some pepper. The cheese was nice and tart and the bacon added some very welcome saltiness but could’ve been crunchier. Because of the missing freshness of the vegetables, this felt a bit greasy so I’ll have to make sure to order all the works next time. Reading this back actually doesn’t sound too flattering but I still really liked that burger, it just wasn’t what I had expected. The famous crinkle cut fries were good too but actually could’ve used a bit of salt as well.

I like their whole sourcing approach and how they try keeping things as natural and healthy as it is possible  when it comes to burgers and fries. Also, this branch must be fabulous to get out for a relaxing lunch if you’re working in the area as Madison Square Park provides enough shade and a relaxing atmosphere to get a nice break in between your day. One of the nicest fast food joints I have been too.

Get Your Grub On!

Shake Shack (open daily)
Madison Avenue and East 23rd Street
New York
NY 10010
United States of America
p: +1 646 474 2606
https://www.shakeshack.com/home

Banana Pudding and Red Velvet.

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Magnolia Bakery Takeout

Just down the street from our friends in West Village was the famous Magnolia Bakery so eventually, we had to make a stopover here and get some of their famed red velvet cupcakes and some banana pudding, which was highly recommended to me by my friend Baked HK.

The cupcakes were a bit of let down in my eyes as there were no distinct or exciting flavors present, the frosting was just sweet and it was all a wee bit too dry. The banana pudding in the contrary was just addictively yummy. As it was chilled and squashy (in a good way) it reminded me partially of a gooey fudgy ice cream and even though the mass was fairly dense and filling, the doughy biscuit pockets somehow balanced it all out and made it kind of light. The banana flavor was strong in this one and only some little sprinkles of dark bitter chocolate sauce were missing to make this perfect for me (note to myself).

Oh, and all the people working at the shop were really nice to us, answering questions, making recommendations and just being generally kind. The only problem I have now is how to get my hands on that crazy good banana pudding ever again. Please help.

Get Your Grub On!

Magnolia Bakery (open ever day)
401 Bleecker Street
New York
NY 10014
United States of America
p: +1 212 462 2572
magnoliabakery.com