Japan: Ichiran Ramen 一蘭

Photo 27-12-15, 9 26 48 PM

The grey skies and cool weather these days may be “sweater weather” or “cuddle weather” to many others, but to Explodingbelly, it’s “ramen weather”.

All I think about when it’s dark and cloudy outside is how good it would be to have a piping hot bowl of ramen. Maybe that’s why I’m fat. And speaking of ramen, my thoughts would bring me back to my best ramen experience EVER – Ichiran Ramen. It seems like my Japan trip has shaped some of my best food experiences, from burgers at Shake Shack to Taiyaki and now THIS.

In fact, I was really expecting my best ramen experience to come from Japan, because DUH. Ramen is Japanese food right. Haha! But this experience was incredibly unforgettable as I thought Ichiran might be just WAY OVERRATED, so I went into the place with pretty neutral expectations.

What makes the Ichiran experience different from the usual ramen experiences I’ve had are:

Photo 27-12-15, 8 38 32 PMI never thought a ramen place could operate throughout the night, but this one did.


We stood under the chilly lung piercing winds for a good 1 hour before the queue started moving. We were at the outlet at Shibuya, which I later found out that it’s usually more crowded. There’s also another outlet in the area, which have lesser crowds so maybe you guys should go hunt for it!
Photo 27-12-15, 9 41 32 PMI only saw this after a good 1 hour. IT IS CRAZY.

3. The ordering system Photo 27-12-15, 8 45 15 PM (1) I think this may be a common practice in most Japanese eateries, but this was my first! I don’t know why I didn’t encounter these ordering machines in my other meals, but YAY THIS WAS FUN. And STRESSFUL, especially with the queue behind you.

I was seriously panicking cause I had to take time to find my money, count, learn how to use, and try not to look like a stupid noob.

But you’d realize that it’s actually quite simple once you’ve done it once, just put money and press press press lor. Do note that Ichiran only serves Tonkotsu ramen!Photo 27-12-15, 9 48 13 PMYou’ll then receive these little order tickets that you have to show to the server later. Meanwhile, more waiting around is needed. Photo 27-12-15, 10 01 19 PM While you are closer to your turn, you’d be handed these little chits to customize your ramen. So now you can’t complain if it is too salty, or noodles too hard etc.

This was my choice! For beginners or people who don’t take spice too well, go for half or 1 for the Ichiran Red Sauce! It’s a little spicy BUT I think that made ALL the difference for me. The ramen was good BECAUSE of the red sauce. Photo 27-12-15, 9 10 00 PMThese is something that shows the availability of the seats. So once you see the green light, it should be your turn soon!

4. The seating booth
Photo 27-12-15, 10 18 05 PM This is probably the highlight of the ichiran experience because everyone gets to be a loner here, and you don’t have to feel awkward eating alone. EVERYONE EATS ALONE HERE. So apparently this is done so that you can experience the ramen fully without being distracted by your talkative mouth. HAHA!Photo 27-12-15, 10 18 28 PMI feel so at ease with this lonesome experience. Photo 27-12-15, 10 19 11 PM You also get to refill your noodles if you have some leftover brothPhoto 27-12-15, 10 20 25 PM Once you’re settled, you’ll then press the button in front of you, and pass the customization sheet to the server behind the blinds, and wait for your noodles to be served!

5. The ramenPhoto 27-12-15, 9 26 38 PM Now for the moment of truth. This is how it would be served, I ordered an extra side of egg and mushrooms so it looks like this!Photo 27-12-15, 9 27 15 PM I’d have done a shot of me pulling the ramen but I cannot control camera plus chopsticks at the same time.  Photo 27-12-15, 9 26 08 PM (2)
I just needed to post many pictures of the ramen because I enjoyed every bit of it. I was intending not to finish the noodles because it was late at night but I accidentally slurped it all up.

I loved how there was a good bite to the noodles while it stayed smooth and slurp-worthy. Like I’ve mentioned earlier, I LOVED the sauce with the soup. It gave it an additional fiery kick, and was just so creamy and addictive!

The tonkotsu were thinly sliced and was really tender. However, that wasn’t the element that impressed me the most! The egg we ordered had to be peeled on our own, and the yolk wasn’t as runny as I expected it to be! A little of a downer, but GIVE ME MORE BROTH, it’d make up for everything!

After you’re done with your meal, tap the button in front of you again to get your bowls cleared, and if you’ve ordered a dessert, like us, pass them the little green tray! In return, you’d get your Matcha Pudding!Photo 27-12-15, 10 39 05 PM Yes, this is a Matcha tofu, which is served chilled!Photo 27-12-15, 10 40 23 PMSmooth, soft texture with a hint of bitterness from the matcha! The flavor of the matcha was well-balanced and not too overpowering, I think it is palatable to people who aren’t fans of matcha!

In my opinion, I didn’t think Ichiran is overrated because…  THEIR RED SAUCE. HAHA! Even though I haven’t had a lot of ramen in Japan, in comparison to the one I had at Ippudo, this was seriously way better than my experience at Ippudo. For first-timers to Japan, I’d definitely recommend Ichiran for a must try experience, because even I do crave for their ramen from time to time after returning to Singapore! They have over 40 outlets around Japan, I think it wouldn’t be difficult for you to locate one near you!


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