TOKYO | Long Lines to Ichiran Ramen

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On my previous work, we tried looking for ways on how to manage waiting times on restaurants. And based on my research, the average time that people are willing to wait is 7 minutes. This doesn’t apply for Ichiran Ramen, tagged by many as the best pork-based ramen in Japan. On my experience, locals and tourists stay and wait for hours just to get a seat.

ichiran ramen long lines
It’s rare to see ten people before you on Ichiran lines.

This made me curious and puzzled as to how great the ramen the noodle house offers. Imagine people spending a gruesome amount of time just to get a piping-hot bowl of pork ramen. Most travel-blogger friends who’ve been to Japan recommend the ramen house. A great fan of noodle soups, I was excited for the hefty bowls of freshly cooked ramen.

With my excitement, I made sure to visit one of their branches on my first day in Tokyo. So after watching the crisscrossing pedestrians on Shibuya Crossing, I searched for their branch few blocks away from the famous intersection. This was where I found a line extending to the streets. Having a hard time looking for the restaurant’s signage, I already knew that the line was for Ichiran. Waiting time was 40 minutes, the crew mentioned.

ichiran ramen tokyo vending machine
Put your money, pick your order.

Allowing blazing vehicles and rushing locals pass by the queueing area, we waited for about an hour. Gladly it didn’t rain. Waiting time depends on how long the customers before you savor their ramen during their turn. When you get inside the restaurant, don’t get too giddy yet as you’ll still queue for your seat’s availability. But remember that getting inside the restaurant is already an achievement and makes you closer to your goal.

ichiran ramen order stub
Don’t forget your order stub!

While waiting, you can go and check the menu available on the vending machine. Pork-based ramen, of course, is the highlight of their menu including a half-boiled salted egg, extra kae-dama (noodles), and thinly-sliced pork cutlet. After you get your food stub, a crew will approach everyone to hand a form. This form will be your ticket for a great ramen experience.

Preferences for the richness of the broth, noodle texture from extra firm to extra soft, level of spicy red sauce, and the inclusion of onions and Chashu. For extra orders, you can use the second page of the form.

ichiran ramen preferences form
Encircle your preferences before your meal.

A dashboard, with tiny LED lights, indicates the availability of seats inside the restaurant. The other reason for long lines is that most Ichiran restaurants only accommodate 20-30 people at the same time. When a seat is vacated, the crew managing the line will mention a number. Go straight inside and look for your designated booth. You have your own booth when you dine at Ichiran. This way, you can focus on the taste and flavors of the ramen and not be impeded by other customers.

ichiran ramen personal booth
You have your personal booth if you dine at Ichiran.

Once the crew gets your stub and form, wait for a couple of minutes before a piping-hot bowl of ramen appears in front of you. After that, the crew will lower down the blinds to ensure that they won’t disturb your meal. Your booth already has a water source just in case you need a cup to quench your thirst. No more calling of crews.

On my first try, I just picked all the default option. Rich broth, medium noodle, regular spiciness, and others. The super smooth noodles and the richness broth will make you speechless in every slurp. Since slurping sound while having noodles in Japan is an evidence of the quality of the meal, you can hear an ensemble of it during your stay at the restaurant.

ichiran ramen pork based ramen
A bowl of Ichiran’s pork-based ramen.

On a different day, walking back to Umeda Station from Umeda Building Skypark, I was planning to go to Dotonbori for another bowl of the famous ramen. However, I spotted Ichiran’s fancy signature bowl and confirmed it’s the ramen chain when I instantly saw a queue. Gladly, waiting time was not the excruciating for just 15 minutes.

ichiran ramen pork based ramen
A closer look!

On my second try, I did add more garlic and encircled the mild level for spiciness. As to the extra kae-dama, I asked for a firm one. Mild level for the hotness already brings a strong kick. If you’re not a fan of spicy food, just go with the regular. I like firm noodles but for you to be safe, just stick with the medium.

Ichiran already flaunts its several recognitions because of their ramen and a lot of people say it’s the best ramen they’ve tried in Japan. Yes, it’s definitely great and really the best I have so far. But as to the best ramen, I can’t attest to it because I only had four bowls of ramen while I was in Japan. And two of them, in Ichiran Ramen.

Ichiran Ramen Shibuya

1 Chome-22-7 Jinnan, Shibuya-ku
Tokyo, Japan
Contact No.: +813-3463-3667

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