I promise you, this will be my last blogpost on Ichiran Ramen.
The previous experience in Shinjuku was not very pleasant, but given the long queue for instant versions of their ramen in Singapore, my entourage wanted to try it to see what’s the fuss about.
The ordering process is mechanical and cold. It is the same with most ramen shops, but it is worse because you might as well buy from a instant ramen vending machine. And when you come in a group, it’s difficult to sit together because of the mechanical process.
Once you are seated, an unpeeled egg is given to you. It’s a smart distraction while they prepare you wait for the ramen to be prepared according to the doneness and savoury levels. So the whole row of us competed to see who can peel the perfect egg.
We ordered a side of yakibuta or stir-fried pork slices with scallions to share and imagine the looks of others as we passed the plate of pork around their unique (and patented) flavour-concentration booths.
Here’s a side-track story of the “flavour-concentration booth”. It involved an innovative store manager named Yoshitomi, and his experimentation to improve business in his store. He noticed that customers compliments or complained about the noodles if they can see who was preparing them. If Yoshi was preparing it, they complimented the chef. If he was walking around the store, they would complained the noodles were off that day. But there was absolutely no different between the preparations because every step was measured and monitored. So it’s the perception.
Also female customers were not comfortable to enter into one of these male-dominated eateries because of the tightness of space. They felt that they were being stared at and constantly covered their mouths while eating the noodles, so they didn’t enjoy themselves.
So these booths removed both problems – you do not know who is preparing the noodles and you do not need to see who’s next to you as you concentrate on your bowl of noodles.
The focus of the ramen was the noodles and stock, so they serve their ingredients on the side. A small side dish of nori, charsiu and julienned wood fungus is presented together with the ramen.
Each bowl of tonkotsu ramen is served with its signature 赤い秘伝のたれ red secret sauce with minced garlic. You have to assemble the rest of the ingredients into the bowl of ramen yourself.
Some like to eat them separate, I like to see a full bowl of ingredients before tucking into the ramen. And I even ordered a separate serving of scallions (yes, it’s chargeable).
Remember the egg? While it was not soft centred like some other ramen store, it was still quite soft as compared to what some stores in Singapore serve.
While it was not customary to drink every last drop of soup (I poured mine into another bowl), but you will see the famous haiku at the bottom of each bowl.
While it was a good bowl of ramen, there are many other good examples in Japan and one should not limit your perspective but just going after the brand names.
Date Visited : Nov 2019