Ramen eating is serious business here in Japan. It is one of Japan's most well known and popular foods - perhaps even more so than sushi. I love them both, so living in Japan is a dream for me. Before I moved here, one of my besties and I would eat dinner at Goma Tei in Honolulu every chance we got. I realize now that I was fairly ignorant about ramen and the fact that there are so many different types and different aspects to it. I'm still no expert, but I feel like I know a little more than I did before. For example, the different regions in Japan have their own unique ramen style based on the type of soup/broth used (e.g., miso, shoyu, shio). There's even a whole museum dedicated to ramen in Yokohama, but that's a post for another day (if you're interested, here's the website: Shin-Yokohama Ramen Museum. There are a few things about ramen consumption in Japan that are common to most places: (1) you order by machine: (2) ramen restaurants are generally not meant for socializing; (3) it is perfectly acceptable to slurp your ramen (sometimes it seems like the louder the better).
Everything you would need to enjoy this meal is right there in your cubicle area - water dispenser, a pen to complete the customization form and a buzzer to let them know you need something or when you are finished. As soon as I sat down, I was instructed by the guy on the other side of the counter to complete the form so they could prepare my ramen according to how I wanted it. The form was pretty intense (thankfully it was in English); it was almost like taking a test except there were really no wrong answers. Ichiran allows you to customize your ramen based on the following (1) flavor strength; (2) richness (fat content); (3) amount of garlic; (4) amount of green onions; (5) whether I wanted roast pork in it; (6) how spicy I wanted it; and (7) how hard/soft I wanted the noodles. Also, I had the option of whether I wanted to add egg, mushrooms and a variety of other condiments. After I completed the form, the bamboo shade was dropped to ensure maximum privacy - like I said, this was a serious ramen joint.
As per usual, it only took 10 minutes before my steaming bowl of ramen was put in front of my face. Although we were talking to each other up to this point (and not really abiding by the "don't talk" policy), once our food came, you could hear crickets. So how was it? I thought it was really yummy and I loved the fact that you could customize the ramen to your specifically tastes (and now I know why there was only one option on the vending machine), BUT I prefer my ramen to have a bigger/thicker piece of pork in it. Everyone has their own preferences when it comes to ramen and in fact some people that I know (I'm not going to name names ) are very adamant about which restaurant/establishment has the best ramen. Anyway, back to what I was saying, people have their own preferences based generally on one or more of these : (1) broth; (2) noodles; and (3) meat. Some people may not think the meat is an important part, but I am not one of them. While Ichiran was definitely a winner, unless I happen to be in Tokyo, I'll stick with my hubby's fave down here in Kamakura (we don't know the name because we can't read the kanji).