Forever and ever – Raamen
Taking international flights are all about temptation, not the sort of temptation you can easily ignore but one that takes a steely resolve to resist.
Many years ago after being refused a rental car for being in no state to drive (or walk) I made a conscious decision never again to over indulge on a flight. No matter how far I get upgraded there will be no gluttony of alcohol and mindless eating of trays of starch, Ben & Jerry’s ice cream and other nutritionally devoid items.
I will remain an inflight monk picking frugally at the offers seemingly devised by celebrity chefs, knowing that mine is the glory that awaits at the end of the journey.
Tonight, after 12 hours of travel our journey ends at the altar of raamen called Ichiran in Dotonbori, Osaka. This shrine has believers queuing outside until late at night. After a short wait we make it into the anti room of the shrine where we make our offerings at the “ticket machine”. Pressing buttons furiously gets change out of ¥1500 including trimmings and a frosty beer.
5 more minutes of waiting and we are given our numbers – “san”, “shi”. I walk past a dozen men with heads bowed, all chanting in homogenous tones, “Slurp, slurp, slurp”.
I arrive at my booth, a private affair so I can be at one with my belief in Raamen. It has the feel of a confessional – “Forgive me twice I have been to McDonalds, and once I was unfaithful: I cheated on my wife’s lunch and had a Bourke St Bakery sausage roll”. The voice on the other side sweeps away my tickets to consider my penance.
Absolution comes quickly with a steaming bowl of raamen, a perfectly boiled egg – along with printed instructions on how to remove the shell – and my long awaited cold frosty. I join in with the chant of the other worshippers – “Slurp, slurp, slurp”.
Like all good places of worship Ichiran Raamen is part of a chain so you can participate in many convenient locations.
And the taste: Totemo oishii desu.
Tips for newbies
- Buy your tickets at the vending machine by the door.
- 790 yen will get you a bowl or raamen with all the regular trimmings, however you can choose to buy extras like beer, half boiled eggs and nori.
- When you sit down you’ll be given an order sheet for you to customise your raamen. You can specify how firm you’d like the noodles, how weak or strong the broth, how rich (fat content), how much garlic, how much special sauce, if you’d like the chashuu – slices of roasted pork and if and how much negi or shallots you’d like. When you’re ready, pass your order paper and tickets to the faceless person on the other side and your food will appear within minutes.
- Pour yourself your own water. There is a dispenser at each booth and serviettes behind you.
- Make sure you watch the cool video on the homepage of the Ichiran website.
Ichiran Raamen, Dotomburi branch, Inakasoba Building
Souemoncho 7-18, Chuo-ku – Osaka, Phone: 06-6212-1805
I have to say that the best ramen we discovered in Osaka was a shop across the road from the entrance to Swissotel… The enterior hinted heavily at the Chinese heritage of ramen, and ramen was so spicy and strong flavoured!
That is cool, when I was in hakata last I was bietrtly disappointed at the Tonkotsu Ramen went to so called Ramen Stadium around Canal City way. I had had Tonkotsu in my home town up North and thought it was fantastic, but the stuff I had in Fukuoka was just far too rich to bear (butakusai!), but if this ordering system had of been available I may have got the real deal! Great tip.