Author: Sassy Eater.
Ichiran Ramen is very famous in Japan, by the way the ramen is served in individual seatings and the ramen taste can be adjusted accordingly to your preference. In silence, you select noodles of varying doneness, garlic by the clove, scallions of different thickness, and incremental doses of the chain’s signature chile sauce. The idea is that minimized interaction with the outside world does wonders for your slurping experience.
Ichiran Ramen which serves pork bone or tonkotsu ramen, is known as one of the best ramen in Japan. It is a chain of restaurants born in Fukuoka Prefecture (Hakata) way back in the 1960s. Hakata ramen is characterised by its thin, long, firm noodles, and usually whiter in colour. Ichiran Ramen noodle is hand made and the broth is customized with a special spicy chili sauce.
Upon entering Ichiran, you are greeted by the ramen shop vending machine. The machine has a very intuitive interface, just insert the money and push the buttons of what you want, you can order the standard ramen plus many extra toppings (boiled egg, extra seaweeds, extra spring onions, mushrooms, etc) and other drinks beside plain water. Water is free and each seat has its tap to fill the glass. You insert your money, press the button corresponding to your desired food item, and take the dispensed ticket to your seat.
Ramen at Ichiran cost 790 Yen per bowl (IDR 95K or S$10 when this review is made). For the first step of enjoying the inhalarating journey, order the top left one, Ramen and Half-Boiled Salted Egg (910 Yen).
The Harajuku branch had an electronic seating chart placed near the entrance showing which seats are empty to avoid wandering around looking for a seat. Look out for the kanji character in blue that reflects ‘empty’, but staff should be around to help you.
Once at your seat, you’ll find that Ichiran has done as much as possible to reduce interactions among customers. Each of the counter seats has a partition on either side so that the only indication that others may be in the shop is the slurping sound. I’m drooling now!!!
Every seat is isolated from the staff of the restaurant that is on the other side of the counter, through a curtain that is opened only to collect the tickets and serve what you ordered. Therefore when you have an ‘Orgasmic Ichiraning’, no-one will be able to look at your face. Amen
To call the staff just touch the button in front of your seat, and then give them the tickets you bought before, so you even don’t need to speak to order. After one of the staff members slips you a ramen customization sheet, the window will be shuttered. In complete solace, you are free to choose your ramen preferences at your own pace.
Below you can see an image of the form. Whatever you choose in the form doesn’t change the price that you have already paid at the vending machines.
You have the choice of noodle firmness from very hard to very soft. In addition, at Ichiran, you can choose the level of spiciness, richness and flavor, whether you want roasted pork included, and the amount of garlic, spicy red sauce and green onion.
Some Singaporean foodie friends of mine suggest that for first timers, pick medium or regular for most items, and half for red sauce. But from my experience of ‘Ichiraning’ countless times, the BEST way to have an ‘Orgasmic Ichiraning’ is to choose Strong for Flavour Strength, Rich or Ultra Rich for Richness, Regular for Garlic, number 1 (regular) or number 2 (double when you’re feeling brave ) for Ichiran Original Red Sauce. For kids I suggest 0 (none) or 1/2 (half). And for the Noodles Texture, choose medium or firm to get more chewiness.
Then press the button in front of you and pass your meal tickets that you get from the vending machine together with the ramen customization sheet.
Wait for the window to fly open again and your ramen will be placed in front of you. You can now free to slurp and ooooh and aaaah…. to fully experience your ‘Orgasmic Ichiraning’ with no distractions. Thin and springy home-made fresh noodles slide through a creamy goodness of the rich and deeply flavoured broth, peppered with a touch of spice… the sliced pork being so thin, tender and flavourful… and the perfect runny egg… It’s the Best Orgasmic Ichiraning ever!
If you find that one serving of noodles isn’t enough, you can order ‘kae-dama’ (second serving) at your seat in cash by filling Kae-Dama form. In my countless visits, I was always caught in a situation to decide on whether I should do a second bowl. And most of the time, I did Kae-Dama, and I slurped and indulged like there’s no tomorrow . Don’t judge me.
With branches across all Japan, including Osaka, Kyoto, and Tokyo, you will have easy access to an ‘Orgasmic Ichiraning’.
Ichiran Ramen Tokyo we visited
Shinjuku: Peace Building B1F 3-34-11 Shinjuku Shinjuku-ku Tokyo-to 160-0022
(3 min walk from JR Shinjuku Station Higashi Exit)
Opening Hours: 24 Hours
Shibuya: Iwamoto Building B1F 1-22-7 Jinnan Sibuya-ku Tokyo-to 150-0041
(3 min walk from JR Shibuya Station Hachiko Exit)
Opening Hours : 24 Hours
Harajuku: Sanpo Sogo Building 2F 6-5-6 Jingumae Sibuya-ku Tokyo-to 150-0001
(3 minute walk from JR Harajuku Station Omotesando Exit)
Opening Hours: 11am – 11pm