If you would ask a tourist where they want to eat ramen in Japan, Ichiran restaurant would always be included on the list. I was so intrigued on my why this restaurant is making a fuss, so when I went to Japan with my sisters and friends last April, I made sure that it is included on our dining list. It was in Osaka when we first checked it out, we eventually backed out when we saw the long line of people who are craving to dine there. It didn’t surprised us though, since when you are in Japan, you really have to queue in order to get in to famous restaurants, especially during meal times. We learned our lesson, so we always make sure that if we will eat on popular places like this, it should be on odd hours.
During meal times, you will already see people lined up outside and on the stairs of the restaurant. The queue can sometimes take up to one hour. There was no line when we visited.
Ichiran Ramen Experience in Japan
Ichiran Restaurant can be found in various places in Japan. We were in Tokyo when we finally got to try it. I believe we went there around 4:00pm and we were lucky since only a few people were dining, so there’s no need for us to fall in line. The restaurant’s unique set up, fun way of ordering and tasty classic tonkotsu ramen, are just some of the reasons why people, including me, are desiring to dine here. I am so excited to walk you through the experience, so here it is.
1. Ordering your food. Upon entrance, the first thing that you have to do is order your meal through their self service machine. Insert your money, select your choice of ramen and any add ons (egg, pork, noodle refill, rice and others) that you would like. The machine will print a ticket that you will hand out to the server once you are seated. In case you forgot to order something, don’t worry, because you can still order that from the server. During our visit, I ordered the regular ramen at JPY 890 (USD 7.86).
There’s a guide for ordering found at the top leftmost part of the machine.
2. Wait to be Seated. There’s an electronic board on the wall which shows the available seats. We didn’t took notice of this when we visited because the restaurant was not busy that time. We just walked inside a room and selected our seats.
The illuminated green button means vacant seats.
Each customer will dine in individual booths. The reason behind this for you to concentrate only on your ramen. The wooden side dividers are collapsible though, so you can still chat with your friends while eating.
Here’s the set up of the restaurant.
Each booth looks like this. There’s a water dispenser on the side and in front of you is the window where they will slide your food.
3. Fill up the form to customize your ramen. Once seated, forms (Japanese and English) will be handed, which you have to fill up to customize your ramen. You can choose the flavor strength, oil content, spice level and noodle texture. You also have the option to add garlic, green onion and sliced pork. This is also the time when you can order something else, there’s a separate form that you have to fill up if ever you changed your mind and want some add ons. Once you’re done, press the button in front of you then put the ticket and your forms near the window, and the server will pick it up.
Here are my forms. Left: My preference for my ramen. Right: My additional order, hard-boiled salted egg.
4. Enjoy your Ramen. Once your ramen is ready, the server will slide it over your window and they will close the blinds. This is the time when you will slurp and enjoy your ramen. After you finish your noodles and you felt that you want more, you can press the button once again and order from the server. In case you ordered additional noodles at the self service machine, they will slide it as well to the window.
My Classic Tonkotsu Ramen with pork and salted egg.
When my ramen was served, I felt a tinge of excitement. My first sip was divine. The soup was creamy and filled with the savory flavor of pork broth. The spicy red sauce made the flavor even richer. My noodles were perfectly cooked the way I like it, firm. The pork was soft and tasty as well. Good thing I added hard boiled salty egg since it made a difference and it perfectly went well with my ramen.
Before and After. This only proves how I enjoyed it.
5. Buy the Pre Packed ramen. Once you finished your bowl of Ichiran ramen, your instinct will tell you to bring home some. I’m serious, you will crave for this once you get home, so buy some if you have the chance.
Before we headed out of the restaurant, we used their loo and we were surprised to see a lot of tissue rolls on the wall. Don’t know why they have a lot like this, maybe somebody can explain to us why. LOL.
Ichiran Ramen Experience at Home
Fast forward to 7 months after our visit in Japan, I finally decided to cook the pre packed ramen that I bought from Ichiran. I have this attitude towards food sometimes, that when I like it, I wait for the perfect time to devour on it (who else are like me?).
As much as possible, I would want to make the taste of this ramen the same as the one that I had in Japan. So what I did was to research on how to properly cook it. Good thing, there’s an instruction to follow on Ichiran’s website which you can check out here. I made some revisions when I cooked it though. Read on to know how I did it.
1. Gather and Prepare all the ingredients. Apart from the pre packed ramen, I have also prepared other ingredients such as pork (I used 4 strips of unsmoked bacon) and hard boiled eggs. I also made sure that I have a measuring cup in order to ascertain the exact quantity of water for the soup.
The ingredients that I have prepared. The Pre Packed Ramen includes 2 packs of Thin Straight Noodles, a packet of soup and a small pack of spicy red powder.
2. Boil the Water in a Pot. According to the website, you should only put 450ml of water to your ramen. But I found it too salty, that is why I added a bit more later on, around 100ml.
3. Add the Packet of Soup, Pork and then the Noodles. If you will abide by the instructions on the website, you should first put the noodles on the boiling water, followed by the soup. But I interchanged it and added the soup first, then I simmered the pork in there so that it will absorb the flavor of the soup. I waited for a few minutes before I added the noodles.
Left: Simmering the ramen. Right: Finished Product
The whole process took me less than 15 minutes. Even if I didn’t followed the instructions, I was happy that I got the taste that I was looking for. The soup was creamy and flavorful; the noodles were firm; the pork absorbed the flavor of the soup; but I failed on the eggs. I cannot make it as tasty and salty as the one that they serve at Ichiran. Nonetheless, it was a success and I hope that I have bought a lot of these pre packed ramen.
Have you tried dining at Ichiran? How about cooking their pre packed ramen? Let me know your experience on the comment section below.