For my first authentic ramen experience in Japan, I went to Ichiran. This ramen chain specializes in Tonkotsu ramen. I didn’t actually know much about Ichiran except that everyone seems to go when they’re in Japan. They only serve one type of ramen here and I was surprised by that because I’m used to having a variety to choose from. However, that does make the ordering process a lot faster!
As usual, you order from a vending machine like the one pictured above. You insert cash and then select one of the options and then the machine will print an order ticket for you. If you need to add sides, you will need to insert money again and get another ticket. The ramen is very affordable and only costs 890 yen. There is also an option to order a set which comes with ramen, a chashu rice bowl and an egg.
Once you have ordered, you wait in line for a table and fill out an order sheet to select your preferences for the noodles, broth, level of spiciness etc. The sheet is written in English, Chinese and Korean so hopefully one of those languages works for you. We went for an early dinner at 5:30pm and didn’t have to wait long but a line quickly formed behind us. The location we went to was in Shibuya.
We were seated at a long counter with a small opening in front of the table where the staff can drop off your food. There are also dividers between the seats that can be removed if you are sitting with friends.Also at every seat, there is a cold water dispenser/tap so you can help yourself to water whenever you want and it won’t run out either. We really need something like this in Vancouver and it will save time from having the staff bring over the water!
The ramen broth was so good!!! It was incredibly flavourful, creamy and rich!!! As you can see from my photo, there is a layer of oil at the top of the bowl. The noodles were cooked to my request and it was the perfect bowl of ramen. I know the bowl looks big from this angle but the portion wasn’t actually that big. By the way, it doesn’t come with an egg so you will need to add it separately. I don’t actually eat ramen that often and maybe my standards are low but this was so satisfying!
My friend ordered the Matcha Almond Pudding for dessert and it was the perfect post-ramen treat. It was light and delicate with a good amount of match and almond flavour.
I would highly recommend a visit to Ichiran for ramen if you’re in Japan! With so many locations, you’re bound to come across one.