by Roaming Panda
We did it boys. We made it to the Mecca of ramen: Japan. Ramen has always been a staple in our pantry growing up. There is always a few packs ready to go for breakfast, lunch, lazy dinner, or a midnight snack. As an adult, my appreciation for ramen is heightened even further knowing the level of craftsmanship that goes into every bowl. I've tried a few variations at home and it is tough to capture the depths of flavor and complexity of the masters.
Our first meal in Japan had to be ramen, and it had to be Ichiran. Ichiran is a famous chain throughout Japan, and they even have a location in Brooklyn, NY. There are 2 locations in the area we were staying, both with equally long lines. The entire experience was unique from the vending machine style of ordering to the individual private ramen booths you eat at.
When you walk in, you are handed a form to customize your ramen's flavor profile. You can choose the firmness of your noodles, the richness of your broth, the level of spice, etc. Once you have your form in hand, you approach the ramen vending machine where you select your meal options. Choose from the ramen itself, the ramen with add on's, sides, drinks etc. It seems intimidating at first but just keep your wits about you, look at the pictures and descriptions and you'll figure it out. Once you make your selections, enter your cash and you'll receive tickets for your orders. Take your ticket(s) and your form and queue up to be seated.
Once you've made it to your magic ramen booth, place your tickets and form in front of you and call on the mystery men and women behind the magic veil to start your order. Your ramen will appear before your eyes in no time. Worth noting that the side walls in your booth can fold in if you do want to open up to talk to the person next to you.
Now that the ramen is in front of you, this is where the real magic happens. Before your eyes is this simple unassuming bowl of noodles that really doesn't look all that impressive, but take your first slurp and you are smacked in the face with flavor. Oooowwwweeeee!
The pork was soft, juicy, and flavorful. The broth was rich, creamy, savory, and packed with umami. The noodles were the perfect vehicle to absorb all the flavors and fat from the broth. It was delicious and it was perfect. Well worth the wait in line. Worth the hype. Worth making this our first stop. We did end up coming back a second time in the morning for breakfast. Pro-tip: they are open 24-hours. Go early in the morning to avoid the lines without sacrificing the experience.
Writing this makes me want to eat it again right now. Closest option would be the location in NY. Must plan a trip to NY. See ya there.