At Ivan Ramen (25 Clinton Street, 646-678-3859), owner Ivan Orkin gets up to all sorts of East-meets-West shenanigans, like coating cubes of fried tofu in Coney Island–style chili and serving Chinese thousand-year deviled eggs. In the same vein, his Herbie’s International sandwich has us wishing Mel Brooks would Kickstarter a Young Frankenstein sequel, because mad genius Orkin has resurrected one hero of a hoagie.
Based on a sandwich first served at Herbie’s restaurant in Loch Sheldrake, New York, and once popular throughout the Catskills (at the height of their popularity decades ago), the sandwich — named for a sibling restaurant that once operated in Canarsie — stuffs heaps of thinly sliced Chinese-style barbecued pork onto a miso-garlic toasted hero roll. Available during lunch and brunch, it’s served with a shiso-spiked citrus slaw, a slick of sinus-searing Chinese-style mustard, and a ramekin of syrupy roasted garlic duck sauce. Its flavors are unsubtle in a seriously satisfying way, with sumptuous fluctuation between sweet, meaty, and spicy tastes from bite to bite. Like everyone else, we love ramen, but Orkin’s cultural experiments always grab our attention.
The Village Voice is counting down to our Best of New York City issue in October. We’re combing the city every day, one dish at a time, to guide you to the most delicious food in NYC. These are our 100 Favorite Dishes for 2015, in no particular order, save for the top 10. To read about previous dishes, browse our 100 Favorite Dishes page.