Concept Ramen on Hondori

A bowl of steaming noodles can be just the thing on a winter’s day, so the opening of a branch of Ichiran Tonkotsu Ramen on Hondori couldn’t have been timed better.

A word of warning though, queues have been out the door and down the street since it opened back in mid-December and I waited almost 40 minutes on my first visit. The word on the street is that it’s now 10-15 minutes from line to slurp.

Ichiran takes ramen-mania to its logical, if slightly odd, conclusion. From the moment you start filling out the questionnaire on various aspects of the noodles you desire (soup style, hardness, spiciness and so on), you know something is unusual about this place. English questionnaires are available, but in the interest of adventure just turn everything up to 11 by circling all the options on the right.

Once inside, purchase is by ticket machine. Ichiran is noticeably more expensive than rival ramen chains, with extra green onions, pork and egg pushing the price to around ¥1200. Clutching your questionnaire and food tickets, you are shown to your own private food porn booth to eat at the counter. There are dividing boards between each seat and a curtain is lowered in front of you so it’s just you and your noodles. This supposedly allows you to focus your mind on your food and also allows you the privacy to slurp in peace.

Unusual aspects to the experience aside, the food itself is indeed delicious and certainly ranks with the quality of the bowls at other ramen chains. The unique nature of Ichiran’s customer service style may not appeal to everyone, and most people in their right mind would raise an eyebrow at queuing so long for what is essentially fast-food, but it’s all part of the fun. Once it has become more established and the queues thin out it will become a regular favourite.

Opening hours: 11:00-06:00
English menu
Location: On Hondori shopping arcade. 30 seconds from Hondori streetcar stop going towards Peace Park.
URL: Ichiran English Page


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