I chatted with Bubbles and Ramen Girl about their experience at Ichiran, a well-known ramen chain in Tokyo. Ramen Girl said it was so good, it beats the soba place I recommended to them. I’ve wanted to try Ichiran last year, but I couldn’t figure out where it was located. Bubbles and Ramen Girl allowed me to let tag along for lunch the next day. Lately, I’ve been into angry tunes. For this post, let’s listen to “Fuck You” by Lily Allen.
Bubbles put the address in Google Maps and off we went! Past the seedy part of Ikebukuro and up and over a bridge. It’s a 12 minute walk from our hotel. On the way over to Ichiran, I pointed out my favourite cheap conveyor belt sushi restaurant. They both tried it a couple of days later and loved the food.
Ichiran is open 24 hours and specializes in private seating. The individual booths are designed for customers to sit and savour the full-bodied tonkatsu broth. In a note posted near my seat, Ichiran states that solitude allows for greater enjoyment. I don’t know if I buy into this theory. I could be sitting in a dumpster next to every single person in the world that has ever offended me I would still enjoy this ramen.
I ordered my ramen at the vending machine at the entrance. I ordered the regular size tonkatsu ramen (1, 020 Yen) with a boiled egg (130 Yen). If you have a moderate or ‘Western appetite’, I would recommend getting a large size. I gave my ticket to an employee and she led me to a private cubicle with a piece of paper on the table. I checked off my preferences and then pressed the service button for an employee to pick up my order. After a few minutes, a different employee opened up my cubicle window, placed my plate of food in front of me and bowed.
The broth is made from pig bones. The rich, fragrant smell hit me the moment my bowl arrived. The broth was served boiling hot, which I prefer as the fat doesn’t stick to the ramen as much when you slurp the noodles up into your mouth. The intense velvety flavours were tantalizing.
The red sauce in the center of my bowl is a blend of 30 different spices. Just awesome – the chili sauce had a heat that lingered on my tongue. I requested my freshly made noodles to be cooked to a medium and it was just how I like it – there was still a bite to it but the texture was smooth and silky. I also requested my egg cooked to a medium and I received a soft, gooey yolk. I was so excited my hands shook as I cracked the shell open. I was so eager I tore a bit of the egg white. Ramen Girl raved about the pork slices but I didn’t really think it stood out in comparison to the broth.
My ramen was so delicious I ordered a small refill (130 Yen) and another egg (130 Yen). I ordered my noodles cooked to firm and it was too hard for me, possibly because my broth had cooled by that time. Ichiran states that it takes 10 minutes to eat ramen and recommends that you order your refill when you’re halfway done your meal. When I return next year, I’ll order a large ramen with two eggs rather than a refill so the noodles and egg are cooked properly in the broth.
This whole meal set me back about 1, 400 Yen. I only went to Ichiran once on this trip because I have a bottomless stomach and ramen is so high in calories. Hitting the Sauce gives Ichiran two fat thumbs up. I’ll be back in 2019.