I was never fond of ramen, but my friends who I came to Osaka with say it’s unacceptable to not eat at Ichiran when in Japan! It’s actually my second time in the city, the first one being two years ago. I don’t remember why I didn’t try Ichiran Ramen during my last visit, but this time around we decided to take the thirty-minute wait.
There are two Ichiran Ramen stores in Dotonbori. There’s an outlet at the canal, and another inside the strip. We went to the latter as the line at the former was simply too long!
Upon entering Ichiran Ramen, we were provided an order form to fill up. The first page indicated how we wanted our dashi (seasoning), noodle texture (firm to soft), how much green garlic, if we wanted any chashu (sliced pork), and hiden no tare (spicy sauce). The second page served as a guide for us when we purchased add-ons at their payment vendo machine.
After getting our coupon vouchers, which is also our proof of payment for our orders, we proceeded to the long line waiting to be seated. There’s family tabling style and booth type seating options, go for the booth type for the experience.
Ichiran has a large display that shows which slots are vacant, as signified by the lighted green text 空. Red dots mean occupied, and blinking red lights represent nearly done customers. We were a group of six, so we chose 3F seats 23-24 and 27-30.
There was a whole row of ramen slots in the eating hall that looked like a traditional Japanese corridor. Each booth comes with a water dispenser, and removable wooden partitions for when you want to eat privately or dine with a companion.
Once seated, a staff from Ichiran will pick up your order sheet through the open window, then prepare the dish for you. I ordered extra pork, mushroom, and a half-boiled salted egg for my add-ons. While I was satisfied with my Ichiran bowl, my friends suggest to return a couple times until I come up with the perfect ramen combination. Since I am new to Ichiran, I played it safe and basically selected medium for all areas where we could customize.
See, when the order has been served, the staff pulls down the blinds to cover the window. No revisions can be made to your ramen from thereon.
Learning from this, I would actually attempt at firm or extra firm noodles for my future trials. My fiancé, Jacob, chose that kind of texture for his ramen, and we both fell in love with it. It’s the ideal chewy, bouncy texture that springs when slurped through the teeth. You’d also kind of want to finish it fast before the noodle becomes too soft from soaking in the hot broth.
I will also bring spiciness to the next level. I was conservative for this visit, but feel I can experiment with a lot more hot sauce then what was provided in medium. Though Jacob thought mild was already too intense for his liking!
The store is open 24/7. So while we’re in Osaka, we plan on going for breakfast during their less crowded hours to have another bowl of Ichiran Ramen just before we wrap up this trip to Japan. As touristy as it is, it is worth the hype and definitely a place to keep coming back to.