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Ichiran (一蘭ラーメン) is Ichiban! : The Ichiran Ramen Dining Experience

Ittadakimasu!

Ittadakimasu!

People from Fukuoka pride themselves with their cuisine.  This is not simply local bias, but a fact confirmed by Monocle Magazine which states that Fukuoka is where the culinary conscious crowd of Tokyo go for their gastronomic delight.  That is right, residents of the city with the most number of Michelin star restaurants fly to Fukuoka for their food cravings.

Fukuoka is known for many dishes but what stands out is its Ramen, particularly tonkotsu (pork bone) ramen.  I will go as far as saying that pizza is to Italy, as tacos are to Mexico, as ramen is to Fukuoka!  Thus, no trip to Fukuoka is ever complete without trying out Fukuoka Ramen. The Ramen experience is such an amazing experience that I recommend complete focus on the ramen, ignoring all distractions around you.  Fortunately, one ramen shop knows exactly how to make you do this.

Ichiran Ramen(一蘭ラメン) is a Fukuoka based ramen chain that not only makes one of the best tonkotsu ramen in Fukuoka, but also provides the customer with a unique experience in ramen dining.  Its  freshly handmade noodles and its special sauce made of red chili and more than 30 other ingredients, cooked slowly over several days and nights, make it a landmark in Fukuoka.

The ordering system is also unique.  You first pay for your order at a vending machine located at the entrance of the restaurant, and fill out a form on what type of ramen you want (tenderness of noodles, amount of spice, amount of onions, level of flavor etc.).  Once you are given  cubicle (yes, a cubicle, the better to focus, remember?), you hand over your sheet and wait for your dish to be served. No need to talk to anyone, handy for you non-Japanese speaker you.  The website interesstingly has this to say about this system: “Since you can order without having to raise your voice, this is an especially popular system with our female customers.

It is quite a unique experience, and while the restaurant is English-speaker friendly, the fast paced nature of it might just make you confused.  So, to better prepare you for your first Ichiran experience, we want to share with you a little “How to Order at Ichiran Ramen” Guide we made:

1. Pick what you want to order. (Clue: Make sure to order Ramen): You can also order side dishes such as egg, extra noodles, extra onions etc.

Ichiran vending machine

2.) Pay: Insert the corresponding amount and get your food stub.

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3. Wait for space to be available. Each square represents a seat on the restaurant.  In this particular branch (Hakata) they are divided into three rows.  A lit square means that a seat is available. In this case, Seats 9 and 6 on Row 3 are available.  If there are two or more in your party, you can request to be seated together.  In this case, others may be asked to go ahead of you until consecutive seats are available.

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4. Once you are called, enter the corresponding hall and find your assigned seat.  You will then wonder if you are about to take an exam.  Coat hangers and tissue dispensers are found at the seat’s rear.

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5. Once you find your place, familiarize yourself with your surroundings.  To your left is the water dispenser and a glass.  To the right are the chopsticks.  Right in front of you is the Form where you place your preference (thickness of noodles, flavor, etc).

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6.  Fill up the form. Note: An English version with instructions is available by request.  Press the call button, wait for an attendant and say “Eigo no Menu kudasai.” or simply “English” and they will understand.  After filling it up, press the button again to submit your form.  Here is a sample form with some recommended choices.  I would go for “rich” fat content and “tender” noodles though.

7. Calmly wait for your meal to be served.

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8. Go from here…

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9. To here…

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10.  Go home and plan your next visit.

Ichiran Ramen has many branches nationwide, but nothing beats experiencing it right here in ramen wonderland, Fukuoka.  Here are the address of some of them

Tenjin Branch:

1-10-15 Tenjin , Chuo-Ku, Fukuoka / phone: +81 92 736 5272

Canal City Branch

1-2-22, Sumiyoshi, Hakata-ku, Fukuoka (Canal City Theater bldg.)







11 Comments

  1. Jamaipanese says:

    awesome little tutorial here. I always wanted o try real true ramen prepared inf front my eyes. These tips will be useful if I make it to Japan.

  2. James says:

    LOL! This looks like a Love Hotel for Ramen!!

  3. No Nihonggo says:

    This place gives you complete anonymity; you don't get to see the server's face or the faces of the other customers. Yeah, agree with the comment above.

    The ramen looks very very good!

  4. Sea says:

    This place looks great! I'll remember this place for my next trip to Japan. Thanks for sharing.

  5. Soma says:

    That is cool, when I was in hakata last I was bitterly disappointed at the Tonkotsu Ramen – went to so called Ramen Stadium around Canal City way. I had had Tonkotsu in my home town up North and thought it was fantastic, but the stuff I had in Fukuoka was just far too “rich” to bear (butakusai!), but if this ordering system had of been available I may have got the real deal!

    Great tip.

  6. […] in Fukuoka, it is TONKOTSU RAAMEN. Famous Tonkotsu raamen restaurants are:  Ichiran(一蘭) (Read our article about it!), Ippudo(一風堂). Famous as they are, they are used to tourist from overseas and there are […]

  7. cooper says:

    I just wrote a letter to ichiran asking them to open stores in america. does anybody know how i can send it to them? there is no "contact us" on their website. i love their food so much but i can't go back to japan for a long time. please reply if you know

  8. The need of the day is that people have to consider the fact that they are being educated for their own reasoning, they have different style of thinking from others, and so all they need is to enhance their skills by the help education.

  9. […] I found out here, Ichiran Ramen is a very popular Fukuoka-based chain that reportedly serves one of the best […]

  10. […] As I found out here, Ichiran Ramen is a very popular Fukuoka-based chain that reportedly serves one of the best […]

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