Ichiran Ramen, Kyoto, Japan

Ichiran Ramen: How to Order the Perfect Bowl

Ichiran Ramen may not be the best bowl of ramen out there, but I have to say it is certainly one of my favorites. However, the process of purchasing a bowl can be a bit intimidating for first timers, so we wanted to create a guide to show you exactly what to do to get yourself a piping hot, heaping bowl of amazingness!

Ichiran Ramen, Kyoto, Japan

While we were in Japan, we tested ramen every chance we got, and let me tell you…that was a lot–we even made a visit to the Shin-Yokohama Ramen Museum. The majority of our meals in Japan consisted of ramen because we are pretty much obsessed. Sure, we made sure to try other Japanese specialties as well, but ramen definitely won our hearts.

Ichiran Ramen, Kyoto, Japan

So, what is it about Ichiran Ramen that we loved so much? The entire process was fun, the ramen was delicious, it was affordable, and you could customize your order exactly the way you liked it. The ramen they serve is a classic tonkotsu ramen, which is a pork-based broth, and they are very particular about each and every ingredient that goes into their soup, from the water, to the home-made noodles, to the secret red sauce.  We ordered different combinations every time we visited, and I think we both finally found our own perfect bowl!

Jenna’s Favorite: medium flavor strength, rich richness, regular garlic, thin green onion, with sliced pork, 1/2 red sauce, and medium noodles.

Micah’s Favorite: medium flavor strength, medium richness, a little garlic, no green onion, with sliced pork, no red sauce, and soft noodles.

Ichiran Ramen, Kyoto, Japan

You can find Ichiran locations throughout Japan and in towns such as Kyoto, Tokyo, Osaka, Hiroshima, and many more.  The restaurant is set up for you to focus on the ramen and nothing else. You make your purchase on a machine and then wait in line for an open seat at your own little individual booth where you are served from a small window open to the kitchen. You never have any face-to-face interaction with an employee except during busy times when someone is managing the line. We were able to wait for seats next to each other, but I’m not sure if that is always allowed. It’s such a fun and unique concept and I loved every minute of it. The only bad thing? I now crave it all the time!

How to Order Your Own Ramen:

1) Insert your money and select a bowl of ramen and any add ons you would like. You can purchase kaedama (noodle refill) at the machine or at your seat later. The machine will spit out tickets that you will use to order your ramen once you sit down.

Ichiran Ramen, Kyoto, Japan

2) Wait for an open seat. There is a board on the wall that shows which seats are open, if any. An open seat will have an illuminated blue symbol. Find the corresponding seat and make yourself at home.

Ichiran Ramen, Kyoto, Japan

3) Fill out your form to customize your ramen exactly the way you would like. You can choose the texture of your noodles, richness and flavor strength of your broth, amount of garlic, amount of green onions, with or without pork and level of spiciness. On our first visit, we were handed English order forms, but the other times we visited we received Japanese forms. Because we had a photo of our English form, we were able to fill out the Japanese one with no issues, but here’s a photo in case you don’t receive a translated version.

Ichiran Ramen, Kyoto, Japan

4) Once you have your selections made, place your meal tickets and customization form near the window and ring the bell. Someone will come to pick it up and your ramen will be prepared fresh and just for you!

Ichiran Ramen, Kyoto, Japan

5) When your ramen is ready, they will slide it through the window and close your blind. Next step is to slurp up and enjoy! There is a water spout at each booth, so you can fill up your own water if you would like a glass or 20.

Ichiran Ramen, Kyoto, Japan

6) If you ordered any extra noodles, a good time to place your refill order, or kaedama, is when you are halfway through eating your current noodles. Be sure to save some broth. You order the refill by pressing the button again and either laying down your refill ticket or if you don’t have a ticket, a tray with the additional money for the second helping of noodles. Your noodles will be cooked to order and brought out shortly. You then dump them into your bowl and can continue to enjoy your steaming bowl of soup!

Ichiran Ramen, Kyoto, Japan

7) Once you are done, just head on out as there is nothing else that needs to be done. You are free to go about your day once again, only now you will be filled up with the warmth of a delicious bowl of ramen!

Ichiran Ramen, Kyoto, Japan

Have you ever tried Ichiran Ramen? What’s your favorite ramen spot?


  • Natasha Amar
    Posted at 08:22h, 10 June Reply

    Such an unusual dining concept! Thanks for sharing this, I can imagine it would be confusing for a first timer.
    Natasha Amar recently posted…Cap De Creus: Finding ‘Brava’ on Spain’s Eastern TipMy Profile

  • The Adventure Ahead
    Posted at 10:14h, 14 June Reply

    Just ordering the food looks like an adventure! How fun and different – our kids would really get a kick out of this. I love finding these types of things on our travels… something so different from how we do things back home, but so much fun!
    The Adventure Ahead recently posted…Cruising Around Craigdarroch CastleMy Profile

  • antonette - we12travel
    Posted at 15:36h, 14 June Reply

    OMG seeing this makes me so hungry! I never knew ordering ramen could be such a complicated thing but it seems logic, with so many options. Hopefully we’ll make it to Japan one day and then we’ll definitely refer back to this, figuring out what the easiest way to order is…

  • Lauren
    Posted at 17:13h, 17 June Reply

    What an interesting way to order food! Do you know if there are any vegetarian options with this? I’m curious about it… Japan is one of those dream destinations for me!
    Lauren recently posted…Apartment Review: La Farina Apartments Florence, ItalyMy Profile

    • Jenna Kvidt
      Posted at 15:02h, 23 June Reply

      I don’t think they had a vegetarian option at this spot–I believe all their broth is made from pork. I’m not sure how plentiful they are but, there are definitely some spots that serve vegetarian options! T’s Tantan is one that I read about, but we didn’t get a chance to try it. Would love to hear what you find if you go!
      Jenna Kvidt recently posted…Japan from Above: Observation Towers in TokyoMy Profile

  • Tota
    Posted at 01:50h, 25 February Reply

    whta base is good for ramen? Soya base or mito base?

  • tota
    Posted at 01:52h, 25 February Reply

    soya base or miso base?

    • Jenna Kvidt
      Posted at 00:18h, 27 February Reply

      I think they are all good personally! Just depends on what type of flavors you like I guess. The broth at Ichiran Ramen is Tonkotsu Ramen, which is a pork bone base.

  • 和斗音 美佳
    Posted at 04:48h, 19 June Reply

    Oh nooo! The refill noodles aren’t meant to be unceremoniously dumped into the broth! You’re meant to mix some broth into the refill bowl with the noodles, eat a few bites on their own and enjoy their own unique flavour, then you dip the rest of the noodles into the bowl of broth as you eat them – like cold udon.
    Also it’s good luck and very respectful to finish the broth. It reveals a cute message at the bottom! (It’s in Japanese though)
    Try those next time and see how you go!

  • Tony Chen
    Posted at 01:15h, 27 January Reply

    That’s a really weird eating habit from an American perspective, but definitely strange enough to try it. Jenna thanks for sharing this awesome restaurant!

  • Juno
    Posted at 21:51h, 15 March Reply

    I have tried Ichiran ramen once in HK. It is very famous thus the restaurant is full of customers. We waited almost one hour until we finally got seats! It is really worth it! I love it! I hope I can visit Japan to try all kinds of ramen one day.

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