[Japan] Ichiran Ramen 一蘭 is known as one of the best ramen in Japan, if not the best – mass market wise.

Not exaggerating, but my friends would get the urge to fly to Tokyo just have a bowl of this rich Tonkotsu soup based noodles.

Ask any Hong Konger or even Singaporeans which is their favourite ramen from Japan, the answer is likely to be Ichiran. Though the Japanese themselves would have extremely varied replies.

The shop was founded in Hakata Fukuoka way back in the 1960s. Hakata ramen is characterised by its thin, long, firm noodles, usually whiter in colour. Also my favourite type. Think Ippudo Ramen.

Its winning formula can be attributed to the creamy smooth classic pork-based tonkotsu soup, topped with Ichiran’s original red pepper sauced mixed with 3 type of spices.

For those who have never bought ramen from a vending machine before, the experience can be quite stressful, especially when there is a long queue behind you.

Here’s what to do so that you do not get lost!

Step 1: Purchase ramen ticket from vending machine
For more crowded shops, you may have to queue even before purchasing the meal tickets from the vending machine.

Get your notes and coins ready to buy the ramen ticket, and any accompanying ingredients such as egg, extra spring onions and seaweed.

Step 2: Queue
This can take anything from 10 min to half an hour or more (perhaps accompanied by other tourists with armed with guide books.) Come during off peak periods.

Step 3: Customise ramen
Circle the order chit on the preference of your ramen, such as flavour strength, richness, garlic, green onion, amount of red sauce and noodles’ texture.

For first timers, pick ‘medium’ or ‘regular’ most items, and ‘half’ for red sauce.

Step 4: Look out for vacant seat panel
A lighted up panel will show which seats are available. Look out for the kanji character in blue that reflects ‘empty’, but staff should be around to help you.

Step 5: Proceed to booth
Booths are all individual seating. There is a retractable window in which all you see are the staff’s hands. They will speak to you in Japanese. Say “Hai, arigatoo!”, pass your order sheet and ramen ticket.

Wait 5 minutes, and eat.

The very first time I had my Ichiran Ramen, it was a really great good bowl. Indeed one of the best. First sip of the creamy goodness, peppered with a touch of spice, and I told myself “I can have this tomorrow again.”

Thin and springy home-made fresh noodles slide through the milky rich broth, which remained piping hot almost throughout. The sliced pork was thin, tender and tasty.

My ‘half-portion’ red sauce was spicy enough, and was indeed the all-important element which differentiated Ichiran from the-other-good-ramen-down-the-street.

What I did not like was the individual booth seats, which Ichiran claimed that customers would then just focus on slurping on their noodles without distractions. Nothing separates between you and your ramen.

But it made me feel liked I was part of some factory chain. No interaction. No feel.

The egg was ordinary in comparison. And I was sure there are many other ramen shops, perhaps off the radar, better than Ichiran. This is Japan after all.

Overall, a simply delicious bowl of ramen from Ichiran, definitely one of the best tonkotsu I ever had, but perhaps lacking some soul.

Ichiran Kyoto
Takoyakushi OKI Building 1F
598 Uraderacho Higashiiru Takoyakushidori Nakagyo-ku Kyoto-shi Kyoto-fu 604-8041
(3 minute walk from Hankyu Kyoto Main Line Kawaramachi Station Exit 9)
Opening Hours: 24 Hours

106-3 Yawataminamiyama Yawata-shi Kyoto-fu 614-8054
8 min away from Second Keihan Highway’s Interchance Yawata-higashi Exit
Opening Hours: 24 Hours

Ichiran Tokyo
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
Google Maps – Ichiran Shinjuku

Shibuya: Iwamoto Building B1F 1-22-7 Jinnan Sibuya-ku Tokyo-to 150-0041
(3 min walk from JR Shibuya Station Hachiko Exit)

Roppongi: Roppongi GM Building 2F 4-11-11 Roppongi Minato-ku Tokyo-to 106-0032
(2 min walk from Oedo Line Roppongi Station, 2 min walk from Hibiya Line Roppongi Station
Opening Hours: 11am – 6am

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

Other locations: Ueno, Shinbuya Spain-zaka, Shinbashi, Ikebukuro, Tachikawa, Machida, Shimokitazawa, Kichijoji

Other Related Entries
Ippudo 博多一風堂 (Ebisu, Tokyo)
Ramen Santouka 山頭火 (Shinjuku, Tokyo)
Menya Musashi 麺屋武蔵 (Shinjuku, Tokyo)
Mutekiya Ramen 無敵家 (Ikebukuro, Tokyo)
Rokurinsha 六厘舎 (Oshiage, Tokyo)

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