Dan Zelkowitz’s New York dream began, as so many do, with a tipsy night on the Lower East Side.
“My wife and I had a drink, and were wandering around,” sometime last winter, the 27-year-old restaurateur and Orthodox Jew tells The Post. “It was freezing cold, and there were these huge, long lines outside of all the underground ramen places. She said, ‘Man, I really wish I could have that.’ ”
The next morning, he headed to Chinatown’s Asian supermarkets with one aim: Creating a delicious bowl of ramen that was also kosher. He was pleasantly surprised to find enough Jewish-law-friendly Japanese ingredients on the shelves to fuel some at-home kitchen experimentation.
After a few tries, Zelkowitz nailed it: a beautiful bowl of noodles in a rich, flavorful broth made entirely with kosher ingredients. Getting the broth just right was the biggest challenge. Many of the popular ramen joints in the city rely on pork-based broths, but pork isn’t allowed under Jewish law. Zelkowitz’s broth is chicken-based and has 40 some ingredients.
After he nailed the soup, the millennial dutifully posted a photo online. Soon, observant friends immediately started hounding him, hungry for a bowl of Japanese noodles that wouldn’t put them on bad terms with their rabbi.
Their insistence inspired him — and one year later, he’s opened Boru Boru, an Upper West Side restaurant that’s the city’s first Orthodox-friendly ramen joint. He hopes it will shake up New York’s Jewish restaurant scene.
“Kosher restaurants have basically been opening up the exact same concepts for the last 10 to 15 years,” he says. “It’s so boring.”
The menu includes the “boru” (“bowl” in Japanese) that started it all: Tokyo-style ramen ($22), made with chicken broth and a jammy ramen egg. A drizzle of house-made chili oil ($1) adds satisfying heat. Less traditional plates include a pastrami ramen with piquant, pickled mustard seeds ($25) and an addictive oxtail fried rice topped with bone marrow ($24). Noodles are sourced from a Flushing factory that keeps kosher.
When the spot’s liquor license comes through (in March, hopefully), diners can chase their meals with Zelkowitz’s playful cocktails. He’s particularly excited about a litchi-rose martini named after his 1-month-old daughter, Olive — “my other baby,” he says.
Zelkowitz has opened nine other eateries in the city, from high-end sushi counters to sports bars, but Boru Boru is the first one that’s kosher.
“I’ve [worked on] so many restaurants,” he says, shaking his head. “Now, I’ve finally opened one up where I can actually eat the food.”
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