FOOD, HOLIDAYS, Uncategorized JAPAN: HOLY HELL, ICHIRAN RAMEN! 25 February 2010

When in Japan, you just gotta eat ramen.

Who can resist the slippery noodle-y goodness?? And so, we hunted down a ramen place. Or rather, Mum did πŸ˜› She asked around and someone divulged this niche little ramen shop called Ichiran Ramen. For people that don’t know about it, you’d wonder why there was a long queue of people, standing patiently outside to go into a tiny nondescript basement. ALL FOR THE RAMEN, BABY!!!

We would’ve walked straight past it if we didn’t know about it. It’s a teeny tiny steep staircase (so small you have to grip the walls on either side whilst you carefully make your way down) that goes down into the depths of a basement. It is so small, it’s like a mini cellar. After queueing (I think it took about 30 mins), you’re greeted by a brightly lit vending machine at the bottom of the stairs, and a closed door. You jab at the buttons indicating the stuff you want to order (no English whatsoever, but fortunately there are small photos), and it spits out the appropriate tickets.

Then, it’s another wait patiently outside the closed door, until the door bitc.. I mean.. waitress, opens it and beckons you in, admist a flurry of apologies for the wait (the Japanese, always so polite!). There’s a small, dark standing area that you wait in (again!). During this time, she hands you a slip of paper with boxes and options, fortunately with English on it. You choose from stuff like the texture of your noodles, the richness of the broth, the ingredients etc. It’s like DIY ramen – awesome for picky eaters πŸ˜›

There are about 15-20 seats total, in a space so cramped that you can barely sit properly. It’s jail-style, with 1 person per cubicle. You perch on your tiny little seat, with your legs squashed in under the counter, and push your slip of paper through the hole where the chefs are. Mere moments later, a steaming hot bowl of ramen is pushed back through the hole and onto your counter.

And then you tuck in.

And oh boy, do we slurp away!!!

They do a mean ramen. Their specially aged noodles have a smooth texture and are thin and tender. The broth is creamy and so tasty, but not too salty – I must note that it isn’t as flat-out fatty/rich as Tenjin Hakata Ramen’s version though, which I prefer. The sliced pork is 3 small pieces, and I whole-heartedly wish for more because the pork is DIVINE, better than Tenjin Hakata Ramen’s version. The pork slices are buttery soft and tender, perfectly flavoured and melts in the mouth. I’m fascinated with a curious red sauce in the middle of the bowl, which I stir into my broth, giving it a kick of spice and the fragrance that steams up makes me dizzy with pleasure. I learn it’s red chili mixed with more than 30 ingredients (!) which are cooked slowly over several days and nights.

I’m a big fan of the half-boiled egg that we buy separately. After peeling off the (snow white) shell, you slice it open and enjoy the hard-boiled egg white and the runny egg yolk. It’s a killer combination. The cool and bland egg offsets the flavour explosion of the ramen beautifully.

Easily one of the top meals I’ve had in Japan. Not only a gastronomical delight, but the sheer fun and adventure of going into a tiny basement and huddling in a cubicle makes the experience memorable πŸ™‚


At Shibuya’s crossing, one of the busiest in the world!
Yet, NOBODY shoved me like they do in Shanghai, in far less busy streets..

Ichiran Ramen, like a dirty little secret hidden in the basement.

Getting into the queue…

…which extended into the depths of Ichiran Ramen

Ordering from their vending machine. A ticket pops out which you then give straight to the chef!

The TINY cramped eating area

Each person has their own eating space, separated by dividers.
The chefs are on the other side, cooking and serving through the holes

My ‘lil eating space. Not good for claustrophobics!

Their own specially brewed tea, and a semi-boiled egg with instructions

A steaming hot bowl of heavenly ramen

Thank you and goodbye!


32 Comments

  • mizdivine posted on February 25, 2010 at 3:26 pm

    what an interesting concept!

    Reply
    • beverly posted on February 26, 2010 at 1:32 am

      Yeah, it makes great use of a VERY tiny space!

      Reply
  • tiffanyx posted on February 25, 2010 at 3:55 pm

    wow wow wow!

    aye babe, im SO gonna print out all your tokyo entries and bring them with me when i go in nov!!

    Reply
    • beverly posted on February 26, 2010 at 1:33 am

      MUST go here… it’s right in Shibuya so not hard to get there, and it’s a great experience πŸ™‚

      Reply
      • tiffanyx posted on February 26, 2010 at 1:37 am

        OK! thankie thankie!! =)

        Reply
    • babyflite posted on February 26, 2010 at 6:53 am

      I also suggest downloading a Japanese dictionary onto your iphone. I can read/speak a little Japanese so I didnt use it that much but it came in pretty handy for Merrill. A lot of hole in the wall places only have menus in Japanese so even just having a dictionary for the katakana will help heaps. Just read it out lot and you can usually figure out what it is.

      Reply
      • tiffanyx posted on February 26, 2010 at 6:58 am

        not too sure if i wanna bring my iphone along cos i dont wanna incur overseas data charge.

        katakana is the chinese characters right? heh thebf has to depend on me then! hiak hiak!

        Reply
        • babyflite posted on February 26, 2010 at 7:40 am

          Just turn off your data roaming and you’ll be fine. Kanji is Chinese characters, katakana is used when the pronounciation is very close to English. For example, cheese = チーズ(chiizu), beer = ビール (biiru). There are probably only around 100 characters so not too hard to look it up.

          Reply
          • tiffanyx posted on February 26, 2010 at 7:56 am

            really?
            then can i still use twitter and stuffs?

            ahhhhh~~ ok will listen to you and get the app before we go! πŸ™‚

          • babyflite posted on February 26, 2010 at 10:14 am

            You can if you find a wireless network but with data roaming disabled you wont be able to access the 3G network.

          • tiffanyx posted on February 26, 2010 at 2:50 pm

            thanks erica! πŸ™‚

  • mizdivine posted on February 25, 2010 at 3:26 pm

    what an interesting concept!

    Reply
    • beverly posted on February 26, 2010 at 1:32 am

      Yeah, it makes great use of a VERY tiny space!

      Reply
  • tiffanyx posted on February 25, 2010 at 3:55 pm

    wow wow wow!

    aye babe, im SO gonna print out all your tokyo entries and bring them with me when i go in nov!!

    Reply
    • beverly posted on February 26, 2010 at 1:33 am

      MUST go here… it’s right in Shibuya so not hard to get there, and it’s a great experience πŸ™‚

      Reply
      • tiffanyx posted on February 26, 2010 at 1:37 am

        OK! thankie thankie!! =)

        Reply
    • babyflite posted on February 26, 2010 at 6:53 am

      I also suggest downloading a Japanese dictionary onto your iphone. I can read/speak a little Japanese so I didnt use it that much but it came in pretty handy for Merrill. A lot of hole in the wall places only have menus in Japanese so even just having a dictionary for the katakana will help heaps. Just read it out lot and you can usually figure out what it is.

      Reply
      • tiffanyx posted on February 26, 2010 at 6:58 am

        not too sure if i wanna bring my iphone along cos i dont wanna incur overseas data charge.

        katakana is the chinese characters right? heh thebf has to depend on me then! hiak hiak!

        Reply
        • babyflite posted on February 26, 2010 at 7:40 am

          Just turn off your data roaming and you’ll be fine. Kanji is Chinese characters, katakana is used when the pronounciation is very close to English. For example, cheese = チーズ(chiizu), beer = ビール (biiru). There are probably only around 100 characters so not too hard to look it up.

          Reply
          • tiffanyx posted on February 26, 2010 at 7:56 am

            really?
            then can i still use twitter and stuffs?

            ahhhhh~~ ok will listen to you and get the app before we go! πŸ™‚

          • babyflite posted on February 26, 2010 at 10:14 am

            You can if you find a wireless network but with data roaming disabled you wont be able to access the 3G network.

          • tiffanyx posted on February 26, 2010 at 2:50 pm

            thanks erica! πŸ™‚

  • starbucksweetie posted on February 26, 2010 at 12:47 am

    I’m amused at the instructions, like you don’t know how to peel a boiled egg πŸ™‚

    Reply
    • beverly posted on February 26, 2010 at 1:34 am

      Haha true! I guess they have huge attention to detail, so they figure extra instructions won’t go wrong..

      Reply
  • starbucksweetie posted on February 26, 2010 at 12:47 am

    I’m amused at the instructions, like you don’t know how to peel a boiled egg πŸ™‚

    Reply
    • beverly posted on February 26, 2010 at 1:34 am

      Haha true! I guess they have huge attention to detail, so they figure extra instructions won’t go wrong..

      Reply
  • joni_to0622 posted on February 26, 2010 at 9:00 pm

    I remember I ate ramen almost everday when I was in Tokyo for 10 days 2 summers ago! πŸ™‚ mm..i could eat it everyday!!!!!!

    Reply
    • beverly posted on February 27, 2010 at 3:14 am

      Wow that is hardcore, lol! We didn’t have it everyday cos wanted to fit in other Jap food, but I do think ramen’s one of my faves πŸ™‚

      Reply
  • joni_to0622 posted on February 26, 2010 at 9:00 pm

    I remember I ate ramen almost everday when I was in Tokyo for 10 days 2 summers ago! πŸ™‚ mm..i could eat it everyday!!!!!!

    Reply
    • beverly posted on February 27, 2010 at 3:14 am

      Wow that is hardcore, lol! We didn’t have it everyday cos wanted to fit in other Jap food, but I do think ramen’s one of my faves πŸ™‚

      Reply
  • j0s1e267 posted on March 8, 2010 at 5:57 pm

    I LOVE ICHIRAN!!!!!! It is my absolute fave ramen ever! I prefer it over Jangara too! I saw Hakata Tenjin ramen but didn’t try, next time!

    Reply
  • j0s1e267 posted on March 8, 2010 at 5:57 pm

    I LOVE ICHIRAN!!!!!! It is my absolute fave ramen ever! I prefer it over Jangara too! I saw Hakata Tenjin ramen but didn’t try, next time!

    Reply
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