Ivan Ramen and Russ and Daughters Open Restaurants on the Lower East Side

IMG_2858Japanese Animation at Ivan Ramen and below the wallpaper in the bathroom at Russ and Daughters is an homage to the numbers you take to establish your place in line at the original store (which can often be very crowded especially around jewish holidays).IMG_2882Whitefish Chowder with Piment D’ Espelette and MatzohIMG_2879At first glance Russ and Daughters and Ivan Ramen would seem to have very little in common: one is the restaurant off shoot of a hundred year old store that has provided smoked fish, herring, “appetizers” and Caviar to the Lower East Side, the other is a trendy spin-off of a Japanese Ramen mini chain.

Below is Ivan Ramen’s Daikon salad topped with dried shrimp and scallops that are made to taste like bacon.IMG_2859

IMG_2871Ivan Orkin is a Jewish kid from Long Island who moved to Japan and fell in love and succeed, against all odds, in opening up an insanely successful ramen shop in Japan (2 actually). Russ and Daughters is still a family run business, that has succeeded in staying open for a century by selling the ultimate New York Jewish mainstay: Lox and Cream cheese. It was the new generation’s idea to sell sandwich out of the shop that became so successful that they needed to open up a restaurant to accommodate the sandwich business. Pictured below was my favorite dish at a recent lunch: Hot Smoke/Cold Smoke, Kippered (baked) Salmon & Scottish Smoked Salmon Spread with homemade Waffle-Cut Potato Chips.  Oh baby we have come a long way from bagels and a smear.

IMG_2880Both of these eateries share a crisp, whimsical, elegant look, with idiosyncratic touches that given them warmth and a sense of place.  Russ and Daughters succeeds brilliantly at modernizing and evoking the store, only for a new generation:IMG_2871 Ivan Ramen uses back-lit panels of Japanese animation (like the one above) juxtaposed to a huge wall of Japanese collage to of set off the spare and clean lines of the rest of the room.IMG_2853Both offer high quality, often very clever food (Ivan makes his Ramen with Rye flour) and Russ and Daughters offers sandwiches with names like: The Heebster.  

Below a bowl of Ivan’s heavenly Ramen, which is all about the noodles, the broth was delicious but it was in a ration that almost made it seem like a “sauce for the main attraction: the noodle.IMG_2862Both of these restaurants have opened up to well deserved acclaim. Both have the feel, at least to me as a resident of the Lower East Side, as instant classics.  These two new places share a sensibility about making creative food based in old traditions, yet infused with exciting new life.  These are places that years from now when I am scooting around on my walker I know they will still be here, still with lines around the block.IMG_2873

 

About urbanfoodguy

I'm a self taught cook with a dedication to buying and eating food that is as humanely and sustainably raised as possible. Which is why in addition to recipes you will see a lot of environmental/political reporting here. I started cooking when I was about 6, it's something I always loved to do. Watching Graham Kerr - aka "The Galloping Gourmet" - was what got me started and I have never really looked back. Over the years I've been a private chef, a caterer, and a food stylist for magazines such as Bon Appétit, Food & Wine, Real Simple, Oprah, Martha Stewart's Everyday Food and many more. I've also worked in the prep kitchen for the Food Network on the Bobby Flay and Paula Deen shows. Now I work at home in my kitchen sharing with you here recipes that I create or that other people have created that inspire me and I think you will like. I love my neighborhood (the Lower East Side of Manhattan) and I love to travel. Because NYC is such a big place I tend to focus mostly on my 'hood and the ones that are close by: The East Village, Bowery, Chinatown and Williamsburg. My love of travel has no limits really, I'm always ready to get on a plane. I was lucky enough to have a business for many years that allowed me to spend a lot of time in South East Asia. These days I've been spending time in Mexico, Germany, Canada and the West Coast of the U.S., but check back you never know where I might end up. I do consulting, cooking classes, and freelance lifestyle writing so if you are interested please send me a note: urbanfoodguy@gmail.com
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