It was 1960 when a ramen stall known as Futaba Ramen was opened in Fukuoka but when the first generation shopkeepers, a married couple were going to closed down, many of their loyal customers begged for them to continue their business.
Many wanted to make sure that the taste of ramen from Futaba Ramen would continue with a new successor and that person would become the president of Ichiran Ramen chain.
Then CEO Manabu Yoshitomi would open its first restaurant in 1993 and opened the “Ichiran” restaurant in Nanokawa, Minami ward of Fukuoka and then more chain of restaurants began to open in Fukuoka.
In 2001, the first Ichiran restaurant opened in Roppongi and then would open in Osaka, Aichi, Kumamoto prefectures. The store would expand to Hong Kong and by 2012, 40 branches have been open. In 2016, Ichiran Ramen opened their first restaurant in the United States ala New York City (almost double of what one would pay for it in Japan). And in June 2017, Ichiran opened a restaurant in Tapei, Taiwan.
The restaurant that I go to is the Ichiran in Ikebukuro which is far less crowded and I never have to wait in line.
Like most ramen shops, you put your money in and you make your purchase. But Ichiran has a snazzier pay machine, where you can see a good sized photo of what you will get and it has a touch screen.
Ichiran has their own packaged ramen that you can purchase and make at home. While not the same in taste, it’s still better than Top Ramen.
When you are seated, you’ll get a sheet that is in English, Chinese and in Korean to mark how you want your ramen. Safe bet is to go medium but if you like your ramen spicy, go for it!
You sit in stalls and you don’t really see the people who is serving you. A window is opened, you give them your order and the bring the food right in front of you.
But as for the stalls, it was to solve the problem of many female students not wanting to eat ramen in front of others, so the restaurant adopted a separate seating space since 1993 and to avoid people from disturbing others who just came to eat and not socialize.
The wait is not long and you can add additional tings for your ramen. As for beverage, there is like a water drinking area to the left and first thing I was served was a boiled egg.
Ichiran’s broth is delicious and it brings out all the flavors in the ramen. The broth is unctuous courtesy of the pork marrow bones and fat cooked with it (I mention this as I know some friends who are unable to eat ramen that has broth cooked alongside pork marrow bone as it gives them gout) and there is something about the broth that makes this ramen exceptionally delicious.
I have eaten at plenty of ramen locations and Ichiran is no doubt a favorite place for me to visit each time I visit Japan.
I know there are those who love Ramen Jiro, but Ramen Jiro may be too much for some people and the thought of not being able to finish a Japanese dish may feel that they are being disrespectful to the chef.
Ramen Jiro is no doubt one of those places where you feel that you can finish a bowl and maybe another because it’s so delicious.
And the fact that you can tailor the ramen to your liking with the ingredients offered is fantastic.
But if you are in Japan, Ichiran is a simply must-visit ramen restaurant. If it’s your first time, it definitely belongs on your bucket list of must-eat places in Japan.