Ichiran is a ramen shop in Fukuoka that boasts an exceptional reputation. It is known as the "originator of chili-infused ramen," "Japan's first membership-based ramen shop," and for its "flavor concentration system," among other unique features.
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At first, the counter that reminded me of a chicken farm felt unnatural, but I gradually got used to it. When I lived in Fukuoka, I didn't go there to eat very often. However, once I left Fukuoka, I found myself craving Ichiran's ramen. It has a different taste from the typical Kurume ramen, Hakata ramen, and Nagahama ramen, but it follows the unique regional style with its pork bone broth, firm noodles, and extra servings of noodles. There's no doubt that it's a representative ramen shop of Fukuoka.
In Fukuoka, there are other ramen shops such as Ippudo and Danbo that have multiple locations. As for the taste, I prefer Ichiran.
While many ramen shops have collaborated with convenience store chains to sell instant ramen, Ichiran had not sold instant ramen for a long time. They had bagged noodles and stick-shaped noodles, but they were mostly sold in their own shops or online.
Finally, in February 2021, Ichiran started selling instant ramen. It is available at major convenience stores like Seven-Eleven. I wonder if Ichiran fans nationwide had been waiting for this. It seems they achieved a surprising sales figure of about 400,000 servings in just a few days after the release.
When I went to a nearby Seven-Eleven to look for a bento box, I happened to see it. At about 500 yen with no toppings, it's surprisingly expensive for instant ramen. But if it's delicious, it's very appealing. The actual store is far away, and the ramen costs about 1,000 yen. So I decided to give it a try.
The quality of the picture on the package is so high that it's hard to tell it apart from the ramen at the actual store.
The non-fried noodles seem to recreate the perfect firmness.
Powdered soup, liquid soup, and the secret sauce are included.
After waiting for 4 minutes, I opened the lid, added the powdered soup and liquid soup, and mixed them. After mixing, I added the secret sauce.
As you can see in the picture, the secret sauce looks slightly different from the one at the actual store, with less graininess. But the spiciness of the secret sauce is well recreated. I wish they could improve it a little more.
The noodles are indeed different from the ones at the store, but they have a good texture. But that doesn't mean they're just hard. I thought the level of recreation in this instant ramen was amazing.
The soup also has a high level of recreation. Of course, the smell of the pork bone broth is inferior to the one at the store, but I can feel the Ichiran-ness.
It's indeed expensive for this price with no toppings. However, I thought dried green onions wouldn't go well with this ramen, and unless they put a lot of thought into it, the char siu would probably turn out completely different. In the end, this choice might be the right one at this point.
If I add my own green onions and add chili pepper to the secret sauce, it might get even closer to the one at the store.
In the current situation where it's hard to go to the store due to the coronavirus, Ichiran's instant ramen seems to be a great relief for Ichiran refugees. I think I'll buy it from time to time.