"You have to try Ichiran Ramen"
"Please go eat Ichiran Ramen"
"It won't count as a Japan trip unless you'd tried Ichiran Ramen"
I wasn't exactly a foodie, and if you'd seen my habit of munching bread and cookies on the go, you'd know I'd gladly give up food for a more fulfilling experience. (Pun intended)
However, we decided to give Ichiran ago because she's been dying for some great ramen, and I guess we'd really made time to find out what's the hype behind the major franchise that'd captured our hearts.
I believe Ichiran posts are there all around, so I won't go so much about the technical details of the Ramen brand. But what makes it so unique for me is actually what makes the dining experience special; you get an individual private booth. Believing that it allows us to fully focus on our Ramen, this actually works when you'd gotten all the distractions away, "including your smartphones", which... is actually not an easy feat.
Walking through the aisle, I'd seen the arched back of the salarymen tapping away over their smartphones, some even had their earphones on, while their phones are probed up via a portable phone holder. Younger teens are talking across the private booths, laughing, chattering in Japanese whilst waiting for the order to be served. We went there and decided to not talk while we're eating, even though we did have some premeal whispers before that.
"Yours is here!", I signaled to her before turning back to face my own booth. There's a half screen over right in front and I could only make out of the many unrecognizable limbs striding across the kitchen floors. It's as good as a sci-fi octopus preparing the meals. Not only it does gives the staff a great level of privacy, I think the lack of eye contact of human to contact makes the experience very different. However, you'll still get your human touch when they speak to you.
I looked at my bowl of noodles, the ramen still swirling around the bowl. I could imagine how the bowl must be tilted, soup and ramen dished in an overly dramatic anime style before it was perfectly maneuvered over to my booth, with the noodles still moving from its initial inertia.
"Itadakimasu", I held up and said quietly before digging in.
It was flavorful. Coming from a family who cooks really blandly, (sorry mum but I love bland food), I grew up eating really toned down home-cooked food and my trip overseas have been pretty intense thus far. The saltiness was hugging onto my tongue still as I took my first slurp.
It was delicious, but curiosity got better of me as there are some words underneath in the bowl. What a bait for me to finish the whole soup!
The hype and potential lunch/dinner queue aside, this place would be a perfect hangout for introverts who want minimal human interaction.