Enjoy Japan’s most popular ramen like a pro
Ichiran Ramen is a unique – and delicious – Japanese eating experience. It can also be a bit daunting if you’re not used to it, but never fear, Klook is here! Read on for expert tips on how to go about slurping up bowls of noodle-y deliciousness.
So, what exactly is Ichiran Ramen?
Forget about the instant ramen you've had in the past. This ramen is next level. Beginning as a food stall in Fukuoka in 1960, Ichiran Ramen opened its first shop in 1993 and is now one of Japan’s most popular restaurant chains. It's most famous element? Flavour-layered pork-based broth called tonkotsu ramen.
Having perfected their ramen recipes over the years, it’s no surprise that Ichiran Ramen is now at heavenly levels of deliciousness. Bowls of rich pork broth are topped with handmade noodles created from a unique flour blend, and the original 'spicy red sauce' is aged for days to develop its wide flavour profile. The broth is constantly monitored, simmered and skimmed to create the richest possible taste.
These ramen experts apply sky-high standards to every stage of the process, including making sure the food goes from the kitchen to your table in just 15 seconds. This tight limit ensures the sensitive, fresh noodles reach you in the exact texture you ordered. That’s why all seats in the restaurant are within arm’s length of the kitchen.
If we’ve whet your appetite, check out Klook’s recommendations for Kyoto’s best eats to plan your culinary adventure.
How to order Ichiran Ramen
Step 1: Buy a ticket for your ramen from the vending machine. You pick the ramen base, plus any additional items like pork, egg, mushrooms and seaweed, then drinks, like tea or beer.
Step 2: You’ll be guided to an individual booth separated from your neighbours by dividers that can be lowered if you’re in a group. The Ichiran Ramen experience is all about helping you focus on your food with as little disturbance as possible. Mindful eating: Japanese style! Not to mention great for introverts!
Step 3: Next, you’ll be a given a piece of paper to personalise your order to your heart’s content. Want enough garlic to ward off a vampire? Like your spice hot hot, or prefer softer noodles? You’ve got it! You'll press a button on your table when you're ready for staff to take your order – all to ensure you can enjoy your tasty noodles in peace.
Step 4: Help yourself to water from your booth’s own tap.
Step 5: Your ramen's delivered to your booth. Tuck into your feast!
Step 6: Let us introduce you to a special word: kae-dama. Use this magic spell in Ichiran Ramen and you'll be brought an extra bowl of noodles to dip in your leftover broth.
Klook tip: Order kae-dama when you’re halfway through your original bowl so that your new noodles arrive just as you finish the first serving. Boom! Next level Ichiran Ramen experience unlocked.
Looking for even more food inspiration for your trip to Japan? Klook has done the hard work for you by compiling lists of the best eats in Osaka and Tokyo. You are so very welcome.
Where are Ichiran Ramen outlets located?
So how can you find this culinary delight? With 80 outlets in total, there are oodles of opportunities to try it out across Japan.
Ichiran Ramen outlets come in different sizes and styles, from smaller spaces with just a few counter seats to larger restaurants with private dining rooms. Some branches offer their own special variations on the classic bowl. Whether you’re a night owl or an early bird, Ichiran Ramen has you covered. Lots of branches are open 24 hours a day, and most others are open until late night or morning so you can get your ramen fix whenever the craving strikes.
Some branches let you book tables online, but others require you to queue. Ichiran Ramen’s popularity means there can be a very long wait to get in, especially if you're visiting at peak lunch and dinner times. A good tip is to check out the Ichiran Ramen website, which tells you which times and days are busiest at each outlet so you can save yourself some hassle.
Here’s where you can find Ichiran Ramen:
- Kyushu – 19 outlets
- Tokyo – 18 outlets
- Kanto – 12 outlets
- Kinki – 19 outlets
- Chubu – 10 outlets
- Chugoku – 1 outlet
- Hokkaido – 1 outlet
For the full list of Ichiran Ramen outlets, visit the chain’s website. After your mouthwatering bowl, how about some sake to round things off? One of Tokyo’s most popular evening experiences is a 6-hour sake tasting that you usually have to book a month in advance. Luckily, Klook has got your back. Book a spot and try as many different sakes as you like from a selection of over 100. Let the tasting commence!
Where else can you get Ichiran Ramen?
Let us introduce you to one of the wonders of Japan – the convenience store, or konbini. It might not be the first place that comes to mind when you think of tasty food, but you’d be seriously missing out if you overlooked these shops.
Konbinis like 7-Eleven are a great option for travellers on a budget who still want a delicious meal, or just those who want to mix things up and try out an authentic Japanese experience. The range of food on offer is impressive and includes the famous Ichiran Ramen in instant form. Whether you don’t have the time or patience to queue up at the restaurant, or – more likely – you just can’t get enough of that noodle broth goodness, you can grab the ramen in an instant cup.
Other 7-Eleven treats we recommend checking out include Mochifuwa Pancakes, little pancake parcels filled with syrup and butter that ooze out when you bite, or onigiri (rice parcels) wrapped in seaweed. Look out for different fillings like tuna or egg. You can also get warm food like sticks of karaage – Japanese fried chicken – the perfect snack for a chilly day.
For more budget food inspiration, check out Klook’s list of the 10 best snacks to buy at a 7-Eleven in Japan.
Expand your palate
We could slurp ramen noodles all day, every day, but Japan's tantalising cuisine offers so much more to make your mouth water. Check out Klook’s dedicated Japan page to plan your travels around this foodie heaven.