On July 17, 2012, Ivan Orkin, perhaps the only Long Islander to become famous for running a duo of Tokyo ramen joints, hosted a one night pop-up at Momofuku Noodle Bar in Manhattan's East Village. The doors unlocked at 5:30 p.m. and shortly after 6 p.m. I was told there would be no more Ivan-brand ramen left because half the city, apparently plagued by a mid-summer flu pandemic, thought it would be smart to order hot soup on a 91 degree day. Sure, the sell-out was part hype (and part damnation of strict seasonality), but it also showed that New Yorkers wanted better Japanese noodles — and more of them.
Now, two years later, the Big Apple is well into the throes of a ramen revolution and helping to lead the charge is Orkin himself, with a sit-down restaurant on the Lower East Side and a leaner pay-before-you-eat outpost on the Far West Side. And amid our glut of good gluten, you can pretty much walk into either without a wait, though we'll revisit that statement come December.