The popular Japanese ramen chain makes its debut in Brooklyn. Ichiran encourages “low-interaction dining” in its 30, single-seat booths so patrons can concentrate on the flavor of the ramen dishes without too much chit-chat. A few tables are available as well, if you are not dining alone. The ramen is great but prepare to wait, since the lines are typically huge.
Ichiran’s signature tonktotsu ramen bowl costs $18.90. This may seem steep, but keep in mind that this is a no-tip establishment. There are seven different customizable categories, such as spiciness, richness, and noodle texture.
The only other dishes available on the menu are a pork belly appetizer, a matcha tofu dessert, and a small selection of Japanese beers. If you find yourself with too much broth at the end of your noodles you can opt for the “Kae-Dama,” or noodle refill, at a half ($2.90) or full ($3.90) portion.
After nine years of plans and rumors, popular Japanese ramen chain Ichiran has finally opened its first US location in Bushwick, Brooklyn, and in addition to its specialty tonkotsu (pork) broth and handmade noodles, it’s also known for “low-interaction dining” — i.e. eating a meal without interacting with a single other person, not even your waiter.
In its “flavor concentration booths,” you can eat without the tedium of chatting to a companion, being welcomed by a host or even thanking a waiter. Arrivals are greeted by a lighted panel indicating which booths are available. Each diner is enclosed in a narrow space like a library carrel, in perfect solitude. Orders are taken and delivered by unseen servers. This sensory and social deprivation, the theory goes, allows for full savoring of the broth (pork bone only), the noodles (thin, not curly) and the toppings. It also encourages eating ramen in the Japanese manner — quickly, so the noodles do not overcook, and loudly, with slurping — without the worry of splashing or distracting a neighbor.
The restaurant, which has 61 worldwide locations, prides itself on serving just one type of soup: pork-bone-broth tonkotsu, which you have the option to order and eat without saying a word… Although the restaurant only serves one type of soup, Ichiran’s ramen is as customizable as it gets: you can adjust the strength of the dashi, the richness of the broth, the amount of garlic in the soup, whether or not it’s served with pork, the level of spiciness, the texture of the noodles, and add any extra toppings. All of this is done without speaking to a single person.