So I have been wanting to relive the what I call 一蘭 Ichiran experience over again ever since I tried it in 福岡 Fukuoka many years ago. This is a classic とんこつラーメン Tonkotsu ramen shop that started from the 60s and have been dishing out ramen all over Japan over the years 24 hours a day.
The 一蘭 Ichiran experience starts from ordering your noodle and extra ingredients using a vending machine (or coupon machine). Then you wait in line for the server to assign you a cubicle. Yes you need to dine in a cubicle ALONE. Haha…
Once you are seated in a cubicle, you will face a wooden window where a server will appear from behind and collect your order. This is also the time when you can indicate your choice of thickness of noodle, hotness of sauce etc. Then you wait for the noodle to be served, again through the wooden window. This, my dear friends, is the 一蘭 Ichiran experience! 🙂
Wifey was worried that we had to share a cubicle since we only ordered one bowl, although with extra black fungus, cha siew and an onsen egg (because we just had a gyoza lunch!). That was what happened in 福岡 Fukuoka when we also ordered only one bowl (because it was supper time then, haha…) and had to squeeze ourselves in the small space.
But the server was very nice and gave us adjacent cubicles. While we were seated and waiting for our noodle, wifey suddenly observed (from another couple) that the partition between the 2 cubicles was actually movable! So that solved our mystery of “why are they so cruel to couples?” Haha…
The noodle was springy and the broth was rich and flavourful. The addition of the extra ingredients made the bowl more manageable which would otherwise be served with just noodle and broth with a couple of slices of char siew. Plus it was always welcoming to be sipping hot ramen soup in a cold weather!