Wednesday, October 15, 2008

一蘭 (Ichiran in Tachikawa)


Ichiran is an interesting place. You are presented with a very simple ticket ordering machine.

It's pretty much only 1 choice. Ramen. The other buttons are for extra pork or eggs. Get some eggs, they are great here.

But actually, this shop is the most customizable ramen you can have. Before you go in, check the seating chart outside the shop. It lights up when a seat is available. See an open seat, go on in. And zip those lips.

You will first notice that it is totally silent in here. And the seats have dividers, like little tiny cubicles. So sit down in your isolation chamber and get ready for the test.

7 questions... multiple choice. The next 15 minutes of you life depends on this moment.

You can choose all aspects of your ramen. Noodle size, noodle tenderness, soup flavor strength, spice level, garlic, with or without pork, and how oily you want it. Go for the middle choice all the way down if you want to be safe, or mix it up.

Ichiran fares from Kyushu, so expect a bowl of tonkotsu style. A totally average bowl that is. When you get your food, the door in front of you closes and you are in complete oneness with normality. The beige ramen zone.

Also... I was totally crammed in the little booth. The seat doesn't move, so my knees were jammed up against the counter and my ass was hanging halfway off the back. I was holding on to the counter with one hand, eating ramen with the other. At any moment I could have slipped and ended up on the floor in a heap of noodles and pork broth. Not the best way to go... but not the worst either.

Check out this excellent video of Ichiran.

There are Ichiran shops in many places in Tokyo. I'd say it's one of the most popular bowls of Kyushu style you can find. But the cramped seating means I won't go back (even though I did). By the way, I'm 6'4" (192cm) so this isn't really a problem for most people.

They are open late, so it is an acceptable post-drunk-party bowl. But if you want to really enjoy ramen, search out something a bit more special.

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