The very origin of Ramen has been debated over the years. But regardless of whether Ramen did originated from the Chinese or Japanese, one can’t deny that it was the Japanese that made it world famous and a trip to Tokyo today would no longer be complete without a stopover at a Ramen shop for some tasty authentic Japan Ramen .
But the question is, if you are only planning to visit Tokyo for that many days and you would too want to try the many other dishes such as Sushi etc that Japan is famous for, where can you find the best Ramen in Tokyo?
Well, don’t worry cause our Singapore Travel Blog has just the answer for you; Ichiran Ramen!
Ichiran Ramen is a chain Ramen shop that can be found not just in Tokyo, but throughout Japan as well. Over the past couple of years, Ichiran has, probably due to it’s increasing popularity, opened an increased number of outlets throughout both Tokyo and Japan. It is now no longer uncommon to see 2 Ichiran Ramen stalls opening just a few mins walk away from each other to help battle the increasingly long queues.
But even with such a widespread of outlets throughout Tokyo, queues to get into one can still be relatively long with waits of over 45mins before you even get to be seated. The good news however, is that Ichiran Ramen opens for 24 hours and if you want to beat the lunch/dinner time crowd, you can always have it slightly earlier/later, or even for supper when it’s generally the least crowded.
The Best Ramen in Tokyo is not just unique in it’s Ramen itself but by the whole dining experience that is different to anything else our Travel Blog has seen in all our travels. From the moment you enter, you’ll realize that despite it’s popularity, Ichiran was not built for you to eat in, dine and merry with your friends and family. It was built for consumers to sit, eat and go for higher turnover.
There would be no service staff there to take your order. Consumers would insert their money into this vending machine and click on what they wish to have and a coupon would be issued at the end of it. Ichiran used to only serve just Ramen and your options were just whether if you wanted an extra egg or extra noodles, but over the years, probably in a bid to increase profit margin per customer, they have added in options such as beer and desserts.
Depending on the amount of people in the queue, you would either be issued a form while you are waiting in the queue or after you are seated, which allows you to select, choose and customize the Ramen to your personal taste and preference. Options include, Flavor Strength, Richness, Garlic amount, choice of Green or white onions, noodle texture (Hard, Medium, Soft), whether or not if you want chilli and how spicy you want it to be. I personally LOVE their Red Spicy Sauce and never ever go without it!
Certain Ichiran Outlets has also introduced the sit in table dining in the past 2 years but it was the counter dining seen in the above video that brought Ichiran to it’s fame. The single seated counters allow for single person seating so you wont feel awkward or have to face the trouble of reserving a seat when you are dining alone. If however you are dining in a group, with a click, you can easily push aside the counter panels so you and your family/friends can have a conversation whilst dining.
Another extremely interesting and intriguing concept that Ichiran Ramen uses is this amazing system which till date I can’t say with absolute certainty that I know how it works. They have a system/billboard machine that tells the staff which seat is empty and how long/if the person eating is almost done with their food. And with that system alone, customers can wait outside and not have to stand and wait at the cramped hallways pressurizing the diner to finish his/her meal. I’m guessing it’s with the use of sensors etc but I honestly can’t be certain.
Once at your seat, simply place the coupons you’ve bought along with your filled in form of how you want your Ramen to be on the table and a staff would just come and take it from behind the counter. They would serve you your egg first in which you would have to crack and peel yourself if you had ordered any. It would just be literally minutes before the staff returns from behind the counter and serves you with your own customized Ramen. They would even close the bamboo curtains after serving just so you can eat undisturbed.
A point to take note however, is that if you had requested for extra noodles, do NOT finish your bowl of soup as the extra noodles would just be literally the noodles that you would use to add into your current bowl. (Watch the video)
When you are ready for your extra serving of noodles (I recommend you doing this when you are 3/4 done with your first bowl as it does take a few mins for them to prep and bring your noodles), just use the extra serving plate issued to you and simply place it on dark red patch and a staff would know that you want your noodles served. [Check out 1:40 of video]
When you are done, it’s almost magically that the staff would once again appear from behind the counter and clear your bowl as you are standing up to leave.
We personally LOVE Ichiran and can’t get enough of their tasty soup served with noodles that are customized to our preference! We have tried many many Ramen stalls across Japan and Tokyo and nothing else comes close. There was once, when our Travel Blog had Ichiran 4 times in 3 days and that’s just how good it is!
Ichiran also offers packet options where you can buy their noodles (Chilli sold separately) back home and cook it for yourself. But based on our experience, perhaps also due to the fact that we are not super good cooks, we have found that buying home and cooking it yourself doesn’t taste quite as good as the real thing!
So the next time you are in Tokyo or around Japan, don’t forget to stop and give Ichiran Ramen a go when you see their iconic red and green symbol hanging and our Singapore Food Blog assure you that you wouldn’t regret it!
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