Oct 13

Pulled Pork & Roasted Tomato Donburi (Rice Bowl) à la Ivan Ramen

in Japan, Japanese, LFM Videos, Main Course, Meat, Recipes By Region, Recipes by Type, Rice & Noodles, Side Dish, Slow Cooker, Travel

Pulled Pork & Roasted Tomato Donburi

Moist and tender pulled pork with roasted tomatoes served over a bowl of hot rice, and topped with sliced leeks.  Sound good? I hope so, because it is!  My recipe for pulled pork and roasted tomato donburi (rice bowl) is my attempt to recreate a dish that I ate in Tokyo this past July.  On our last day in Japan, we made a visit to Ivan Ramen, a ramen shop owned by Chef Ivan Orkin in Setagaya-ku, Tokyo.  The restaurant sits on the corner of small alley, about a two minute walk from Rokakoen Station on the Keio subway line.

Little alley in Setagaya-ku, TokyoIvan Ramen, Tokyo, Japan

Although this station is only about a 15-minute subway trip away from Shinjuku Station, one of the busiest stations in Tokyo, Rokakoen is small, and the neighborhood surrounding it is quiet, without any of the chaotic hustle and bustle of Shinjuku.  To find yourself in this neighborhood, you either have to be visiting someone who lives there or heading to Ivan Ramen to eat.

What makes Ivan Ramen unusual, is that it’s owned by a foreigner.  In a country where tradition reigns supreme, a foreigner opening a ramen restaurant is a hard sell, being so far from what the Japanese would expect from an “authentic” ramen restaurant.  But it appears that Orkin has made the sale, as Ivan Ramen has been in business since mid-2007, and Orkin recently opened a second restaurant, Ivan Ramen Plus, in 2010.  Orkin’s motto is slow food fast, serving his customers food made from scratch in his restaurants, including his noodles, with the best quality ingredients he can get.  Orkin uses a broth made from whole chickens and dashi for his ramen, a lighter alternative to the pork broth that many ramen restaurants use.

Ramen, Donburi, and Ice Cream at Ivan Ramen

I had a bowl of ramen with a special roasted garlic broth and cha-shu (Japanese simmered pork) and Mr. Fuji and I shared an order of Pulled Pork and Roasted Tomato Donburi (豚ローストトマト飯 — Buta Rosuto Tomato Meshi).  The ramen was rich, the broth thick and silky from the roasted garlic, accented by several whole roasted garlic cloves, and the cha-shu melted in my mouth.  The donburi was a magical combination of hot steamed rice topped with succulent pulled pork and roasted tomato halves, inducing me to eat more than I should have because I couldn’t stop myself from taking “just one more bite.”  We finished the meal with a scoop of their homemade lemon ice cream, which was seasoned with a hint of salt, a surprising detail that transformed the ice cream into something extraordinary.  We got to the restaurant early, and so there were only a couple of other customers.  This was lucky, as very often the restaurant has a line of customers patiently waiting for their turn to occupy one of the 10 seats inside the small restaurant.  Orkin wasn’t there, but one of the chef’s present, a younger Japanese guy, was friendly and engaging, patiently answering all of my questions, and making the experience even more enjoyable. It was a wonderful way to end our culinary adventures in Japan.  Take a peak:

Since returning home, I’ve been slowly working on recreating some of the flavors we enjoyed at Ivan Ramen.  Today I’m sharing my recipe for Pulled Pork and Roasted Tomato Donburi with you.  It takes some advance preparation, since the pork needs to be slowly cooked in a slow cooker, but it’s worth it!  None of the elements take very much work, just patience while you wait for them to be finished.  So until you are able to make a trip to Ivan Ramen, do yourself a favor and cook up some pulled pork and roasted tomato donburi.

Pulled Pork & Roasted Tomato Donburi ala Ivan Ramen

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Pulled Pork & Roasted Tomato Donburi

Makes about 4 servings

Recipe Notes: This recipe makes more pulled pork than you will likely want for four servings, but I’ve found that if I use a smaller piece of meat it sometimes ends up a bit drier than I like.  The size of roast indicated will give you perfectly moist meat, and then you have leftovers which are perfect leftovers to include on a sandwich or in tacos.

For the Pulled Pork:
2.5 pounds pork shoulder roast
2 teaspoons coarse sea salt
2 teaspoons liquid smoke flavoring

For the Roasted Tomatoes:
4 tomatoes, halved horizontally
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
4 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil

4 cups freshly steamed Japanese rice
1 leek, cut into thin matchsticks
Shichimi togarashi (Japanese seven spice), to garnish

1. Make the Pulled Pork: Pierce the pork roast all over with the tip of a sharp knife. Place the roast in a large slow cooker and rub the salt all over the meat. Drizzle the liquid smoke over the meat. Cover the slow cooker and cook on high heat for 6 hours, turning the roast over once half-way through the cooking time. When the meat easily shreds with a fork it is ready. Remove the meat from the slow cooker and shred with two forks, adding drippings from the slow cooker as needed to moisten the meat.

2. Make the Roasted Tomatoes: Preheat the oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. Place the tomatoes, cut-side up on a baking sheet, then sprinkle them with the salt and pepper. Drizzle the olive oil over the tomatoes and then put them in the oven to bake until the tomatoes are tender, about 15 minutes.

3. Assemble the Rice Bowl: Divide the rice into 4 bowls. For each bowl, top the rice with some of the pulled pork, two of the roasted tomato halves, and some of the leek matchsticks. Then sprinkle with a bit of shichimi togarashi and serve.

{ 19 comments… read them below or add one }

Fresh and Foodie October 13, 2011 at 1:19 pm

Delicious! What a fantastic experience — your version looks just as wonderful as the original.


Fuji Mama October 13, 2011 at 2:03 pm

@Fresh and Foodie, Thank you! The original is better, especially because it means you are in Japan! :)


Geez Louise October 13, 2011 at 1:19 pm

what an unlikely combo? clearly i know nothing about the culture… smokey pork over rice~ sounds delicious, i would eat anything over rice.


Fuji Mama October 13, 2011 at 2:05 pm

@Geez Louise, Another reason why I love you—a fellow rice fan!


LiztheChef October 13, 2011 at 2:00 pm

I’m all over this gorgeous recipe – saving for cooler weather. Your post really takes me to Japan – wonderful.


Fuji Mama October 13, 2011 at 2:06 pm

@LiztheChef, Maybe we’ll get the chance to take a trip together and I can take you to go eat the original!


Bev Weidner October 13, 2011 at 2:05 pm

GOOD heavens, YES.


Fuji Mama October 13, 2011 at 2:07 pm

@Bev Weidner, My thoughts exactly! LOL


Meg October 13, 2011 at 3:25 pm

my mouth is watering just by looking at your photos. This looks like a must try recipe in my house.


Fuji Mama (Rachael) October 13, 2011 at 10:45 pm

@Meg, Let me know if you make it!


Barbara | Creative Culinary October 13, 2011 at 7:55 pm

Not only does this sound yummalummadingdong but I can do this! Whoo hoo is I believe the word(s) because I can’t always say that when I ready your recipes! Love it. Pulling pork out of the fridge tomorrow to get some pulled pork made!


Fuji Mama (Rachael) October 13, 2011 at 10:44 pm

@Barbara | Creative Culinary, Yes, you can definitely do this!!!


Jayne October 13, 2011 at 8:05 pm

Hi Rachael, I can’t get liquid smoke over here. Can I just sear the meat before slow cooking it to get the smoky flavour? I’m really excited to try this out. More excited than I expected. LOL.


Fuji Mama (Rachael) October 13, 2011 at 10:46 pm

@Jayne, Although you won’t get quite the same effect, searing the meat before slow cooking it will definitely help! Also, if you use a smoked salt, that would be wonderful as well! Let me know what you end up doing and how it turns out!


Jayne October 24, 2011 at 7:48 pm

@Fuji Mama (Rachael), Just to report back, I made some pulled pork on Saturday. I can’t express how yummy those were! I salted and peppered the slab of leg tenderside then seared it before slow cooking it for about 5.5hrs. Absolute delight. I got about 6 good packets of pulled pork in the freezer and I just took out a packet to serve for lunch today. You know, when I was packing them away, I couldn’t stop myself from nibbling. :-) Thanks Rachael.


Abigail (aka Mamatouille) October 14, 2011 at 8:17 am

What fun fusion food! Ivan sounds like a neat guy.


kitchenvoyage October 17, 2011 at 5:43 am

Already in my list of must try to cook. Fantastic!


Jayne October 17, 2012 at 7:34 pm

Hey Rachael, I’m just here again to report back. (Can’t believe it’s been a year!!) Last time I made this, I seared the meat to get some spoky flavour in. Recently, I found liquid smoke in a gourmet store here FINALLY! I tried this recipe again last might, searing the meat, adding one sliced yellow onion, a whole bulb of garlic and peppercorns instead of ground pepper. I tell you, when I woke up this morning, I was greeted with the most delicious aroma. Having some in a Sprout Pulled Pork Sandwich as we speak. Thanks so much Rachael. :-)


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