Back to the topic of travelling to Japan, Living Nomads will accompany you to explore the traditional culinary world of the Land of the Rising sun. Can you guess what dish is on the plate right now? Sushi, Curry rice, Tempura or Sashimi? They are not right! The most unique dish when going to Japan that you definitely have to try is the traditional Ramen noodles with the Ichiran brand. So, what is Ichiran Ramen and how to order Ichiran Ramen? Let’s check out our Ichiran Ramen review to explore one of the most unique ways to eat noodles in the world to find out the answer! Have you ever heard of this famous brand? Let’s find out!

Inside Ichiran Ramen shop in Tokyo | ichiran ramen review
Ichiran Shibuya, Tokyo
A set of Ramen noodles at Ichiran
A set of Ramen noodles at Ichiran
| ichiran ramen review

What is Ichiran Ramen and Why try Ichiran Ramen when you go to Japan?

Besides Sushi and Sashimi which are so familiar when we talk about Japanese cuisine; Soba, Ramen, Udon and Somen are the names of famous noodles originated from the Land of Rising sun. You must definitely take the time to enjoy one of the most popular dishes of local people as well as tourists from all over the world: National Ramen noodles. However, eating Ramen noodles without going to Ichiran Ramen chain restaurants is a waste of a trip abroad!

The famous Ichiran Ramen of Japan
The famous Ichiran Ramen of Japan | ichiran ramen review

Ichiran Ramen (一蘭) is the name referred to as the “landing zone” that makes perfect sense for lonely lives, who hate the whole world and do not like to communicate with people (!?!) Anyone who wants to find a quiet place, avoid being disturbed and bothered in order to enjoy their favorite food, Ichiran is the best choice. If you have ever been to a Japanese restaurant, surely you will be impressed by the professionalism and friendliness of the service staff. You will receive warmly greeting right at the entrance with the familiar greeting from the staff: “いらっしゃい ませ” (Irasshai mase), then a little by little dedicated and caring guide for customers. For anyone who are picky or hard to please, they will cannot disregard when coming to Ichiran Ramen, everything seems to be turned upside down! Japan has a lot of weird things, so this eatery is definitely not the same to any other eating places.

| what is ichiran ramen

Ichiran Ramen review: How to get to an Ichiran Ramen restaurant?

Ichiran is originated from Fukuoka province, located in Kyushu, South of Tokyo. Found in 1966 with broth made from 100% natural Hakata pork bone, today, it has nearly 100 chain restaurants across Japan and around the world. And of course, in Tokyo, it is not so difficult to find an Ichiran restaurant.

Outside of an Ichiran Ramen Restaurant
Outside of an Ichiran Ramen Restaurant | what is ichiran ramen

The easiest way is go to a train station, you can find an Ichiran branch full of people in and out. These restaurants are open 24/24 so you can come anytime. We used to go to an Ichiran restaurant which is located right at the entrance of Ueno station.

However, one big disadvantage is that the restaurants are usually very crowded, people line up a long queue, sometimes you have to wait for more than 30 minutes to make your order. The scene is not so different from the holy milktea shops in many Asian country. Also, don’t expect to jump the queue, because you are in Japan and Japanese people love politeness. The way that customers willing to take time queuing for just eating ramen proves the strong attraction of this traditional noodles. For that reason, you definitely have to try it.

Long queue in Ichiran Osaka ramen
Long queue in Ichiran Osaka ramen
Long queue in Ichiran Hiroshima ramen
Long queue in Ichiran Hiroshima ramen | what is ichiran ramen

Transport: The best way is to prepare yourself a holy JR Pass All Japan, one kind of ticket that is economical and convenient for tourists coming to Japan. With this ticket in hand, not only can you eat Ramen, but also travel across Japan by Shinkansen, tram or bus. Buy tickets here: JR Pass for Whole Japan (7, 14, or 21 Days).

If you still don’t how to use JR Pass All Japan, refer to this link: JR Pass — Top 11 things about Japan Rail Pass you need to know.

In addition, if you have a passion for the Metro lines, want to eat noodles as well as experience the superior Metro system in Tokyo, Living Nomads provides you with all day Metro ticket for foreign tourists. It covers a large area by going through 13 Metro lines and 250 stations and easily access to famous destinations such as Shinjuku, Shibuya and Ueno (this station sells Ichiran Ramen ^^). Link to buy Tokyo Subway Ticket (24, 48, or 72 Hours).

JR Pass All Japan
Japan Rail Pass | what is ichiran ramen

Ichiran Ramen review: What is so special about Ichiran Ramen?

You are coming to read the coolest part! One more time, the service style of Ichiran is unique throughout Japan, especially for those who are lonely ^^. The motto of the restaurant is to have the least interaction between people the best! You can never see or talk to a staff! Right from the moment you step into the restaurant to the moment you leave the restaurant, you are not able to call a staff member to come out and assist you. Those who come here for the first time may feel lost because of feeling “being abandoned”.

Ichiran ramen
The mysterious waiter is serving Ichiran ramen to you | how to order ichiran ramen

All chiefs and waiters are hiding behind the sedge curtain in front of where you sit, which is big enough to cover them and leaves only their hands to bring the noodle bowl for you. Don’t be worried, the ordering and payment processes have been all planned clearly and thoroughly, ensuring that tourists can understand to order noodles so most of the waiters do not need to speak up.

Ichiran Ramen
One of the strange spaces in Ichiran Ramen | how to order ichiran ramen

The next special feature is the layout and arrangement of the seating space of the restaurant. Following its motto of operation, the restaurant sets up a long table and uses curtains to devide the table into small compartments, which is just enough for only 1 person! Even if 2 very thin people going together, they cannot fit into one compartment. This ensures that you can enjoy your yummy hot noodle bowl without being bothered. Simple but true, right? You come to ramen restaurant for eating ramen, no need to bother about other things ^^ And we think that this seating arrangement is perfect for those who have just broken in love, want a quiet place and look for food to comfort them.

Sitting compartment Ichiran ramen
Sitting compartment Ichiran ramen | how to order ichiran ramen
Ichiran ramen
Separated sitting compartment for each customer to enjoy their noodle bowl

By the way, because of this unique feature, you should definitely prepare a 4G sim card to be able to check in the lonely noodle bowl and post it in social media. Not to mention that you can do web-surfing while waiting for the food to be ready.

A set of Ramen noodles at Ichiran
A set of Ramen noodles at Ichiran | ichiran ramen tokyo
Mouth-watering with this ramen noodles bowl
Mouth-watering with this ramen noodles bowl | ichiran ramen tokyo

You can register to buy the 3G sim by following this link. After getting off the plane, you get the sim and insert it into your phone to be able to use it. In addition, if you go in a group, renting a portable wifi transmitter is not a bad idea.

If you are interested in virtual living check-in on Facebook, it is best to rent a colorful Kimono, dress it up and come to an Ichiran Ramen restaurant. This national costume of the Land of the Rising sun will create extremely perfect atmostphere for you to fully enjoy the delicious fragrant bowl of traditional noodles. So everyone will know you going to Japan ^^.

A small tip is that choosing a right Kimono for your size is a bit difficult and the price is also very diverse, if you want to find more information on this, you can refer to how to choose you best Kimono here.

Tourist wear Kimono eating ramen
Tourist wear Kimono eating ramen | ichiran ramen tokyo

Ichiran Ramen review: How to order Ichiran Ramen?

As we mentioned earlier, because of minimizing communication, the ordering and payment processes at Ichiran restaurants have been specified. If the restaurant is not so crowded, you are lucky, you can order as soon as you arrive; however if you are unlucky, you have to queue for more than 30 minutes. But waiting is worth, be patient ^^

System guide to order noodles at Ichiran ramen
System guide to order noodles at Ichiran ramen | ichiran ramen tokyo

You can order food by using an automatic machine just like a drink vending machine. The screen will displace pictures and names of each kind of noodles and topping such as meat, seaweed, plain rice… If you can drink, you should order a draft beer. Draft beer goes well with ramen noodles and it is always the best combination! After selecting the order, you can pay directly at the vending machine and get a printed meal receipt. You can pay either by cash or e-cards (such as Suica or Pasmo). Remember, if you are confused, just ask a nearby person how to use it, don’t shout for help, no staff to help you here ^^

Japanese people are well-known for being attentive and meticulous in every job, the ordering process is not an exception. After paying and receiving an invoice, you will move into the restaurant and find yourself a “sitting compartment”. On each compartment, there will be a sheet of paper that is the same as a survey at supermarkets. The purpose of this sheet is for chef to know better your taste in order for making a perfect noodle bowl for you. Do you eat onion? Eat less spicy or hot spicy? Prefer soft or medium noodles…This sheet of paper will help you for all these little details. Or, you can order drinks or desserts or add other dishes by using this sheet. Because this sheet of paper is written in Japanese, English, Chinese and Korean, so don’t worry!

Preference taste survey at Ichiran Ramen
Preference taste survey at Ichiran Ramen | ichiran ramen review

After completing all the order stuffs, you just need to ring the bell, hand out your invoice and the taste survey paper through a small gap next to the curtain right where you sit, a staff waiting behind the curtain will receive your order and after a few minutes, your order in accordance with the requirements of customers will also be served through this gap. After that, staffs will lower the curtain down in the cruelest way, leaving you alone with your noodle bowl! As such, if you come to Ichiran and expect a fun atmostphere to chill, you come to a wrong place! Come here only for eating!

Ichiran Ramen, bell
Bell to call staff at Ichiran Ramen | how to order ichiran ramen
Extra item order sheet, Ichiran Ramen
Extra item order sheet, Ichiran Ramen | how to order ichiran ramen

Ichiran Ramen review: The unique flavor in Japan

Ichiran only sells a single type of Ramen named Tonkotsu ramen – which is Ramen noodle with broth made from pork bones. Each bowl of noodle are fragrant without being greasy. Just like the characteristics of Japanese people, each bowl of noodles served to customers will be decorated thoroughly, making it simple but eye-catching. It is a mix of yellow color of noodles, green color of spring onions, white color of eggs, red color of typical sauces, all mix together with the fragrant smell of broth. Only mention this but already mouth-watering!

Ichiran ramen
Traditional ramen with pork slides, spring onion, garlic and red sauces | ichiran ramen review

We are learnt that the temperature of the broth as well as the time to skim the foam off need to follow an absolute strict and precise process. Only if one of these requirements is not met, chefs have to give up that broth and prepare a new portions.

And just like the fame of this unique traditional noodles, no matter where you eat at any Ichiran chain restaurants across Japan, one thing is for sure that the taste is exactly the same. Because the receipt for this broth is only held by three Ichiran key employers. The receipt is kept secrect completely, so definitely do not afraid that you eat “fake ramen” ^^

After eating, if you do like it a lot, you can buy some instant Ramen packs to save for the day back to your home or give it as a gift to your friends. But of course, they cannot have the experience of eating ramen alone like us ^^

Instant ramen at Ichiran Ramen
Instant ramen at Ichiran Ramen | ichiran ramen review

One last thing, you can try Ichiran Ramen at some restaurants in Tokyo such as these two locations:

Ichiran Ramen Shinjuku

Address: Japan, 〒160-0022 Tokyo, Shinjuku City, Shinjuku, 3 Chome−34−11 B1F・6F ピースビル
Opening hours: 24/24
Phone: +81 3-3225-5518

Outside Shinjuku Ichiran Ramen
Outside Shinjuku Ichiran Ramen

Ichiran Ramen Shibuya

Address: Japan, 〒150-0041 Tokyo, Shibuya City, Jinnan, 1 Chome−22−7 岩本ビル B1F
Opening hours: 24/24
Phone: +81 3-3463-3667

Outside Shibuya Ichiran Ramen
Outside Shibuya Ichiran Ramen | ichiran ramen review

Note the Ichiran Ramen chain restaurants right into your Japan travel must-do List ^^.

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Are you looking for more Tokyo travel guide and top things to do in Tokyo: Tours, activities, attractions and other things? Read more: Tokyo travel blog — The fullest Tokyo city guide for a budget trip for the first time visiting Tokyo, Japan.