{Ichiran Ramen} A Dining Experience without any Human Interaction

November 18, 2016

Ichiran Ramen: A Dining Experience without any Human Interaction - Tonkotsu Ramen

The dining experience at Ichiran Ramen in Japan was one of a kind. I couldn't wait to share what it was about after I came back from our honeymoon trip in Japan! It was an eye-opener for both Will and I because we didn’t know that the restaurant was completely different than what we were both used to. From the moment we entered the restaurant to the end of the meal, we hadn’t been connecting with anybody else except with each other!

Ordering food from a vending machine

Ichiran Ramen: A Dining Experience without any Human Interaction - Ordering Food from a vending machine

We were greeted by a vending machine when we arrived to the restaurant. The machine didn’t speak Japanese but we were smart enough to know that we needed to order our food there. Pictures of all the menu items were displayed so the ordering process was pretty straightforward and self-explanatory. After we placed our orders, the machine dispensed some tickets for us. The most logical thing we thought we'd do was to pick up these tickets and head inside for seats. Because at this point, we still hadn’t seen a single staff yet! As we were wondering what to do with the tickets, we saw a digital seating chart that indicated which seats were available in the restaurant. We followed the floor plan of the chart to find out that their seats were actually stalls inside a narrow alleyway.

Eating at your own private stall

Ichiran Ramen: A Dining Experience without any Human Interaction - Eating at your own private stall

Each stall was designed for one individual with their own water tap, utensils and clothing rack. In front of the stall was the kitchen, where we could see all the actions from the kitchen or really, just the lower half of staffs' bodies. Good thing though, a bamboo screen could be pulled down to hide away the kitchen. Another divider could also be pulled open and close in between seats so you could either separate yourself from others or open up with friends dining together with you.

Ichiran Ramen: A Dining Experience without any Human Interaction - Eating at your own private stall
Fill out form to indicate ramen and broth preference

We filled out a questionnaire-like form to indicate our ramen preferences - you could personalize spiciness and richness of your broth as well as the noodle firmness. We loved this personalization! We picked everything regular the way it is since it was our first time here. Then, we placed our forms on the button in front of us and waited for the next thing to happen...

Bamboo screen and divider for privacy

Ichiran Ramen: A Dining Experience without any Human Interaction - Tonkotsu Ramen
You even crack your own soft boiled egg too!
Ichiran Ramen: A Dining Experience without any Human Interaction - Almond Tofu Pudding
Matcha Almond Tofu Pudding for dessert 390 Yen
Then, a hand rolled up the bamboo screen in front of us and reached over to pick up our forms from the other side. Before you think this was a haunted restaurant, I should clarify that it was actually hand of a staff member inside the kitchen that picked them up. It didn’t take long for our ramen to arrive at our stall either. As soon as our dishes came, the staff member rolled down the bamboo screen to give us privacy and uttered some Japanese sayings to us (I assumed he told us to enjoy our meal?).

The whole experience felt very private and personal as if nobody knew we came to eat. There was no human interaction at all and we actually didn’t find it strange. We thought it was quite brilliant and efficient. I could totally see myself eating at a place like this back home on my own, especially on days where I didn’t want to be disturbed or was too lazy to put my face on. I could just come have a quick bite and continue on with my life.

Even though, this experience might not be cool for everybody but visiting simply for their ramen was still worth it. The pork based broth was creamy and just tastefully rich. You might also want to add some of their original red sauce to the broth, it really enhances the flavour to ultimate heaven! No wonder they are so popular and have branches everywhere in Japan!

Would you give this experience a try?

Stay tuned for my travelogue to Japan for more cool and fun stuffs!

{Big fan of ramen? You'll enjoy my ramen series}

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About Me

About [span]me[/span]
Hello, my name is Lorita. This is a journal of my personal style, travel adventures, food excursions, recipe experiments, DIY tutorials and every little thing in life.