There are many light styles of soup. Tonkotsu isn’t one of them. Everything that’s been strained out of your fancy French consomme – fat, calcium, and marrow – is emulsified into your tonkotsu. This explains why it has the texture of silk and looks like a lard-infused latte; fat rises to the surface like globules of edible Elmer’s Glue. And against all odds, its popularity can reach Cronut-like levels; New Yorkers will queue up at Ippudo for the delicacy in June, a sign of coming cardiac apocalypse and a rebuke to our collective notion of seasonality.
Now don’t get me wrong; I have nothing against hot soup in the warmer months. But there has to be a limit, and tonkotsu, depending on how it’s made, can evoke a fettuccine alfredo over cream of mushroom soup. Lucky for us, Ivan Ramen’s founder has these problems solved, and he’s put tonkotsu on his July menu to prove it.
“Tonkotsu has always made my stomach do a little bit of a flip flop,” Ivan Orkin tells me via phone from Tokyo. He’s the Long Island guy who rose to fame selling ramen in Japan before taking New York by storm in late 2013. The Orkin style of ramen is largely clean and clear; the chef is known for his double soups that are half-dashi, half-chicken broth. And he’s largely steered clear of pure tonkotsu. “It always made me a little bit sleepy. It was always a little too heavy for me as a regular style.”