Ichiran 一蘭

The second one to be featured on ramen-otaku has slowly inched towards the #1 spot, but just not there yet. #2 on my list is Ichiran, and not surprisingly, this is also Fukuoka-based Hakata ramen. My first Ichiran ramen experience was at the Roppoingi shop (thanks Yamamoto-san), and surprisingly, my first impression was above average at best. I'll explain why.

What makes Ichiran unique perhaps isn't because it's fancy. At Ichiran, simplicity wins. It is truly a no-frills, order, eat, and leave ramen shop. You can almost say it is fast food ramen, but by no means is this fast food quality. Where Jangara offers choices of soup flavor and toppings, Ichiran offer option to customize you bowl of ramen to your liking. There is only one soup base, the bowl of noodles includes chashu, menma (bamboo), negi, and their secret sauce. That's the menu, no more, no less. Once you pick what you want from the machine and pay, here is where the magic begins.

There is usually a line at Ichiran, which to their credit, it's because it's damn good. While waiting, there is a board which lights up if a seat becomes empty, and at which time, you can proceed and sit down in your booth. When I said no-frills, I mean no-frills. You sit down, give them your ticket, the bowl of ramen comes, you eat, and you go. There is very little interaction with the servers. But when you do sit down, you get a sheet of paper, which you can choose how oily you want your soup, how flavorful you want your soup, how spicy, how much negi, whether you want chashu or not, and the hardness of your noodles. I have tried the different options, and it does make a difference.

While I was not blown away after the first time, it has really grown on me. The soup is simple, but so, oh so good, and words would not do it justice. The chashu is not the best, but definitely more than adequate. The noodles are absolutely wonderful, and the hanjyuku tamago (soft-boiled egg) is to die for. I almost get kaedama (second order of noodles) every time I go there. And being in convenient locations at Shibuya and Roppongi, and open 24 hours a day (YES, you just can't beat that), nothing hits the spot like a bowl of Ichiran ramen after a late night of drinking.

Okay, writing these reviews is perhaps as hard on me as it is on you, as I am not in Tokyo right now, and what I would do for a bowl of Ichiran right now. If you are in Tokyo, and craving an amazing bowl of noodles, you cannot go wrong with Ichiran.

Locations: Numerous throughout Japan
Hours: Most are 24 hours
Website: http://www.ichiran.co.jp/
Ordering system: Machine
Availale in English? Yes (ask for English once you sit down)

1 comment:

kgao said...

i could not agree with you more about craving ramen while not in tokyo. although i think ichiran is #1 ;) thanks for writing this! the pics are making my mouth water......