Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Ichiran Ramen

I went to Kyushu about 2 years ago and although I've always been partial to Sapporo Ramen, I was blown away by the good ramen we found in Kyushu.

Our favourite is Ichiran Ramen (一蘭拉麵).

I think I can safely say it is one of the best ramen I've had.

It is definitely one of the most interesting ramen experience. For the following reasons:

1. You buy a ticket which you use to exchange for your ramen, from a machine at the entrance of the restaurant. There is only 1 choice of ramen - Ichiran Ramen. You can pay for extra noodles, extra onions and so on.. but you only have 1 choice of ramen.

2. Before you step in, you need to take a look at this board where there is a layout of the seats in the restaurant. (Only in selected stores) You can tell if the seat is empty, occupied or if the previous customer is about to leave from the board.

3. You take a seat in the restaurant on your own, no matter how many people you are with. Yes, the seats are designed to be like those library seats, with boards to your left and right so that you eat and appreciate your noodles with full concentration. At least, that's what I think the owners intended.

4. You get a little slip of paper where you can specify your exact preferences for the noodles and soup - from the amount of onions you want, the doneness of the noodles, the spicines and so on..

5. A little notice in front of you tells you that you:
- Can ask for more noodles after you have finished yours for a small cost (just give their your bowl of soup)
- Can ask for a perfectly done soft-boiled egg at small cost
- Have a maximum of 1 hour to finish your noodles (Not that you'd need an hour.. but still, it's an interesting thing to say...)

A bowl of Kyushu Ramen - They serve it in this 
very special rectangular porcelain bowl with a cover

Top right: The library-like seats
Bottom right: The ticket machine where you 
buy a ticket for your noodles

Ichiran Ramen has lots of stores now around Japan - see http://www.ichiran.co.jp/index.html for more details.

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