Ichiran Ramen is one of the known Ramen House for tourists in Japan. The restaurant offers limited seating so expect longer queue and waiting time especially during dinner. We started to queue in Shibuya branch around 6:00PM and there’s already a line outside. One of the policy of Ichiran is no seating reservation for group and you are required to queue altogether until you get your seats. After 40 minutes, we were able to get inside and gave out our menu order.
The Ordering process
The ordering process is one of the coolest thing that I’ve experienced in Japan. To order, you need to place your meal orders on the machine. You need to pay for your order first, claim a stub which you will eventually show to the kitchen personnel.
Using the machine is simply straight forward as well. First, insert your bills or coins on the designated slot. Second, press the ramen servings of choice. There are actually one ramen base in Ichiran, the only difference with the options is the other one has hard boiled salted egg and the other is just plain noodles and soup. Third, select additional toppings and sides on the options. Then finally, retrieve the meal ticket / stub that you will present on the staffs and or retrieve your change if applicable.
Before going inside the dining area, a crew will hand out an order form where you can select taste, richness and texture based on your preference.
The seating arrangement
The seating arrangement is special as well. There is no usual dining table setup but instead you will be seated on a single separated booth designed like a computer shop or a study booth on a library. Each booth is connected to the Kitchen but is just separated by a curtain.
The restaurant in Shibuya is pretty small. They can only accommodate 20 customers at a time. Each aisle has 10 single booths to cater customers and the aisle is pretty crowded and basic yet authentic and has it’s own unique charm.
Each booth is actually connected to the kitchen, the only division is a bamboo roller mat curtain that the staff manually rolls up every time a customer finishes the meal and for them to clean up, and then rolls down eventually once a new customer arrives on the booth.
The food experience
Once you got your spot inside, place your meal stub and preference form on top of your booth table and press a red “hello” button. The staff inside the kitchen will fetch and will prepare for your food then. After a few minutes, your food will arrive! HOORAY! The gestures of the staffs in the kitchen are one of the kindest and genuine act I’ve saw in Japan. They will gave a small bow while placing your bowl and simply rolls down your curtain mat for you to enjoy your little privacy while eating. If ever you want to add some on’s like additional noodles and sides, you can press the red “hello” button to caught the staffs attention.
With regards to the food, I’m not a foodie expert here, but the taste of the Ramen in Ichiran is simple, bit spicy, the richness is enough and not overwhelming and the noodles is perfect. I can comfortable say that this Ramen can be a comfort food for me especially during rainy season. A recommended experience for first timers in Japan.
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