Ivan Ramen: Memoir & Cookbook

This week we're celebrating all things ramen to coincide with the launch of Ivan Ramen, Ivan Orkin's new cookbook. Over the next few days we'll be sharing a few of Ivan's recipes on The Bureau Of Taste and giving you the chance to win a free copy of Ivan Ramen. 

COMPETITION: To win a copy of Ivan Ramen just leave a comment at the end of this article answering the question: 'Why do you love ramen?' Entries close at 5pm on Friday 24th October 2014 so don't miss out!

Ivan Ramen is both a memoir and a cookbook. It starts with the story of Ivan Orkin, a middle-aged Jewish man from Long Island, who has managed to make a name for himself selling ramen in the most competitive of markets - Tokyo. His first introduction to Japanese food came when he worked washing dishes at a Japanese restaurant as a teenager. This interest in Japanese food blossomed, he moved to Japan and after some time opened his first ramen shop in 2007. Curiosity spread and appreciation of his noodles grew so much that he was able to open a second restaurant in Tokyo and two more branches in the US. He is now a fixture of Japanese TV programmes and the face of his own brand of instant ramen.

What follows this memoir is a collection of over 40 recipes. No detail is spared as Ivan lays out the recipes for the many components that make up his signature shio ramen dish. Once you've mastered the basics, the book offers creative ways to use up these left-over components as well as variations on popular Japanese ramen dishes.

An inspirational insight into the at-times cult-like world of ramen, Ivan Ramen, will open your eyes to the love and artistry that goes into creating a simple bowl of ramen noodles.


  • A steaming bowl of ramen always reminds me of my wonderful year in Niigata, Japan. Every Monday during winter, I ordered a spicy, huge bowl of kimchi-enhanced ramen from my local ramen-ya, which I’d slurp in the cosy shop reading the UK Sunday newspaper supplements my mum posted me every week from home – cocooned from the snow outside. Ever since then, those silky, slurpy noodles in their intoxicating broth bring me comfort and a glowing smile. Thank goodness for ramen!

    Silaja Birks on

  • I love ramen noodles because they are very tasty. I first discovered ramen noodles on a mountaintop in the himalayas, where I had been praying with fellow monks for three days. We staggered down from the peak where we had been seated and were overcome with exhaustion, when we passed a travelling salesman who had just put on a pot of ramen noodles for his dinner, which he kindly offered to us. We annihilated the noodles, and ever since I have been emotionally dependent on ramen noodles. Thank you.

    Payam Gammage on

  • I spent a year in France studying to be a Patisserie chef. Spending a year in such an unfamiliar environment with people I didn’t know was very stressful at times. That’s when I discovered a great ramen takeaway. It is the perfect comfort food. At one point I was having ramen 5 days a week. Ramen has gotten me through some very difficult times. I’ve decided to learn to make my own ramen and share the joys of ramen to my friends and family back in Surrey.

    Aaron D'Souza on

  • Working in kitchens you don’t get much time to eat until you get home late, and ramen noddles are the perfect ingredient for a quick tasty supper incorporating whatever you have in the fridge or cupboard

    Mike H on

  • Ever since I was able to stand up unsupported, I would hover around the kitchen and watch my mother cook. It was an endlessly fascinating process. She could take a bowl of flour, sugar, butter and eggs and transform it into a delicious cake. It was magical. If I was lucky, I got to help out, but always under supervision.

    As I got older, I was allowed to try making some simple things on my own. Ramen noodles must have been one of the very first things I ever learned to cook unaccompanied in the kitchen. I didn’t know they were called ramen, they were just packets of instant noodles that we bought from the local Co-op. They were easy to make – just boil the noodles in water for a few minutes, and sprinkle in the accompanying sachet of oh-so-delicious chemical-laden powder. It was heavenly. Soon, I progressed on to fancier things like Vesta curries (forgive me, but this was the 1970s), and then finally I started to make whole meals from scratch. Spaghetti bolognese was a favourite, as was sausage casserole, but when I wanted a quick snack, I would always fall back to my beloved instant noodles.

    Eventually, I left home for university. There, necessity meant I had to cook for myself far more often, and so I ventured out into less familiar territory – Indian food was delicious, I discovered. But, as each term drew to a close and the grant started running low, instant noodles were often a satisfyingly delicious fallback.

    University ended, and I set out into the real world. Now I had to work for a living, but in return, I got paid! I had enough money to start to buy more interesting food. I set about learning to cook many different things. I bought pans and wooden spoons and roasting tins. I bought a wok. I bought cookery books. A whole new world of eating opened up before me. Most importantly, I discovered that you could buy other kinds of noodles! Who ever knew that there were so many noodle dishes out there? I was in heaven! Before long, I discovered that I could make ramen that was even more delicious than those instant noodles of my childhood. I could use my own chicken stock, add some seasoning, garlic, finely sliced spring onions, a little chilli, and if I was feeling really fancy, an egg left to poach gently in the hot liquid. It was delicious.

    And so over the years, noodles have been a mainstay in my life – a permanent feature on my list of comfort foods, and of all the kinds of noodles you can have, ramen remains my firm favourite. It is the ultimate comfort food, deliciously soft noodles floating in a mouth-watering savoury broth. Who needs anything else? I could live off just that for the rest of my life. And to this day, I’m rarely without a packet of instant ramen in the pantry, just for when I need that quick fix.

    David Wilkinson on

  • its super slurpy deliciousness, always a comfort and a joy!

    LYNNE on

  • I say ‘Amen’ for top Ramen

    Matt Dolan on

  • I’m a huge fan of ramen noodles – there’s something so comforting about them. Traditional comfort food tends to conjure images of something really rich – at least for me anyway- but ramen manages to balance light, nourishing and comforting beautifully. The versatility is a bonus too and means you can tweak your ingredients to tick whatever craving boxes need ticking!

    Lauren R on

  • Ramen noodles add class to,the term pot noodle.

    Phil George on

  • I have a very tiring job as a heatlhcare professional, working a variety of shifts. It’s hard to get into a routine and so easy to eat unheathily when time to cook is limited. Ramen noodles can be cooked so quickly with some stir fry veg or a soup, with a variety of sauces so it is never boring and they are a true life-saver!

    Maxine on

  • Ramen noodles accompany you throughout your culinary life; first as a university mainstay, then as a quick fix dinner once life becomes hectic. Once you’ve grown out of those phases, ramen only makes a few guest appearances when you are feeling nostaligic, then when you have the time to dedicate to your kitchen you can take what was once a convenience food and make it into something special and guilt free – its a comfort food that comforts you through all your ages! like an old friend that grows with you – what’s not to love?

    Melanie Sgroi on

  • I had my first bowl of ramen last year and it got me thinking “why haven’t I tried this before?”. It is just so creamy, comforting, delicious, lovely, messy and varied dish that makes people happy. I actually went to Bone Daddies earlier this week just to get my ramen fix, and it got me thinking that maybe it’s time to learn how to make ramen at home? Just so I can have it every week at home and not take every friend I have to eat ramen every time we go to a restaurant, I think they are slowly starting to catch on…

    Christine Murphy on

  • For me, it’s simple. Ramen is comfort in a bowl.

    Mark Chu-Carroll on

  • Because ramen dishes remains me the tradiconal cooking of home, a dish that you can make when its cold outside and its healthy!!

    Maria Bejar on

  • I love ramen not only because it’s delicious, flavorful and fun to eat, but also because on a cold, wet miserable day like today, there is nothing like sitting down to a hot steaming bowl and just smelling all the wonderful flavors. It warms you up and hits all the right notes. Turns any lousy day around!

    Marla Hoffman on

  • Jazz ’em up or keep them simple, night or day, ramen noodles rule!

    Maggie Hobbs on

  • I love ramen because, when travelling in Japan, I found out that in Ramen Shops talking is essentially forbidden while eating a bowl – everyone sits in silence, eating their bowls to respect work the ramen maker has put in to create such a wonderful dish! I always liked that as a tradition and eating a bowl of ramen reminds me of the importance of traditions in Japan and my time there.

    Iain Gethin on

  • love ramen, it’s the best comfort food!

    Jo on

  • It’s simple! I love it!

    Tihomir on

  • Thank you for your varied and delightful entries!
    Our lucky winner is Iain G – we’ll be in touch soon.
    Best wishes,

    Jessica on

  • I just love it – pure and simple. It is clean and healthy whilst being utterly delicious and I can make it as spicy as I like…

    Eileen Wise on

  • One ramen a day keep doctor away. I never had a more complete meal in a bowl, simply love it.

    juan flores on

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