Ichiran Ramen 一蘭
Even if you haven't been to Japan, there is a possibility that you or your friends may have heard of Ichiran Ramen. Besides Tokyo, Ichiran Ramen's chain restaurants can be found in Kyushu, Kanto, Kinki, Chubu, Chugoku and even overseas such as Brooklyn in New York, Hong Kong Tsim Sha Tsui, Hong Kong Causeway Bay and Taipei, Taiwan.
Ichiran Ramen 一蘭 is a Japanese ramen food-service chain business specializing in tonkotsu pork-based broth and thin Hakata-style ramen. Interestingly that Ichiran's unique selling point is the concept of partitioned seats in-store.
If you are a solo-diner, you may find the privacy provides a comfortable space for you to enjoy your meal. I guess the policy behind is to minimize the human interaction such as restaurant's staff and other customers to enjoy your ramen. If you would prefer to dine in with a group of friends and enjoy chatting during your dining experience with the waitress/ waiters and people around you, Ichiran may not be what you are after.
I have visited a few Ichiran Ramen restaurants in Tokyo and found that there were always queues in Ichiran's restaurants. It would not be a good idea to queue with starving stomach, I gave up once because of that. One tip for that is to go to the next Ichiran branch nearby which may not be as crowded.
If you wonder how to order the ramen, below steps may illustrate:
- Join the queue
2. Ticket Vending Machine
- Once you get into the entrance, you may find the ticket vending machine usually is just nearby.
- When it is your turn, insert money into the machine and choose your meals by pressing the buttons. i.e. Choose your ramen, extra, beverage etc. Hold on your tickets until it is requested.
- You will be filling in forms with your cooking preference such as the amount of oil, the softness of the noodle, the saltiness of the soup etc
4. Seats Availability Status Board
- You may check out the Seats Availability Status Board if seats that are available.
5. Be Seated and to be served
- Bamboo Curtain will be lowered once you have been served so that you have your absolute privacy.
It was interesting to have solo-dining experience like this but I didn't want to waste my time queuing since I could simply buy the Ichiran Ramen packages.
Nowadays, I just went straight into the restaurants and bought some packages to cook when I returned home. The packages contained the noodle packs, broth packs and chili powder packs. I simply followed the instruction to cook, add any extra ingredients to my liking and VOILA - a bowl of Personalized Ichiran Ramen served at home! If you follow the instruction correctly, you will get rich broth (watch out for the water volume - not to dilute it) and the right softness noodle.
It was delicious!
There are many Ichiran Ramen restaurants in Japan, I've been to the restaurants in Shinjuku and Shibuya:
Shinjuku Station Central East Exit
3-34-11 B1F Shinjuku-ku Tokyo-to 160-0022
Koyasuran B1F 1307 Udagawacho Shibuya-ku Tokyo-to 150-0042
You may check out the locations before you go:
*** Tips ***
* They have branches and some open 24hours. If one has long queue, you can always check out the other.
* The Ichiran Ramen package is rather heavy, make sure you do not exceed your luggage limit.
Japan is easily at the top of my travel list despite I have been there multiple times. I will update some travel information and tips from time to time.