I was in Fukuoka, Japan, 3 years ago and had the privilige of eating at Ichiran. I ate at the Canal City branch, and i must say that the experience of eating there was a very unique one!
At Ichiran, they really try to make the whole eating experience as, how should i put it….a very personal affair. You start off by placing a rough order through a vending machine at the entrance, before heading to your personal cubicle. Once in your cubicle, you get a sense that you’re about to take a test. Before you, you’ll see a pencil and a check list. Basically, the check list is for you to personalize your order. I chose a spicy version, with additional egg, along with extra noodles. If my memory isn’t failing me, i recall pressing a button to indicate that i’ve completed my order. And through some sophisticated behind-the-scenes communication system, a waiter will come to my cubicle, and take the little slip away. I took the liberty of sneaking my camera to take a snap shot of what it looks like behind each cubicle. It’s pretty cool! You get a glimpse of how they organise the orders and you’re reminded that we’re dealing with the Japanese here.
After a few minutes, a black box will arrive with your ramen in it. I guess there’s a first time for everything. For me, it’s a first i’m eating ramen out of a rectangular box.
Let me begin with the noodles. It’s really smooth and has a silky texture to it. I’m not sure what kind of flour goes into the noodles but they’re rather dense in texture. And the soup is really thick and has an almost creamy texture to it. The spicy sauce i asked for gave the soup an additional kick to the hot soup.
When eating ramen, another important part of the dish are the pork slices. The pork slices at Ichiran looked like they were taken out of the belly portion, and the alternating layers of meat and fats made it especially tender and flavourful.
The semi cooked egg, or Nitamago, is another quintisencial part of a bowl, or box, of ramen. I’ve tried preparing Nitamago once but it took sveral attempts to get that semi cooked egg yolk encased in a fully cooked egg white. Ichiran managed to achieve perfection in it preparation for this.
Overall, i’d say that Ichiran serves up really tasty boxes of ramen. A unique way of eating ramen, although i’d find it rather lonely when it comes to eating a meal alone. Perhaps, the purpose of the segregation is to help us focus our attention solely on the task at hand- savouring ramen. As for the ladies, there’s no longer a need to take controlled nibbles to preserve a demure image while eating. Just let loose and slurp the noodles up!
Address: 1-2-22, Sumiyoshi, Hakata-ku, Fukuoka (Canal City Theater bldg.)
Opening Hours: 10:00-24:00