Eating Ramen Alone – The Ichiran Experience.

Working abroad isn’t bad. Working in Tokyo isn’t bad.   However when the weekend arrives this is what happens:

  1.  You live in CBD district where it’s surrounded by Offices and restaurants and Cafes that ONLY OPEN during Monday to Fridays.
  2. Colleagues spend time with Family.  Left all Alone.

It actually is a lonely feeling but after days of eating one pot noodles and what ever is selling at Lawsons or 7 – 11; due to many restaurants do NOT offer English Menus and even have signs not accepting Non Japanese Speakers you find yourself going to the Tourist Spots.  Shibuya.  Ueno.  Shinjuku etc. Japan is actually one of the most polite cultures I encountered and I’m Thai….  Thailand is a different concept – If you don’t speak the language they will guess something until they get it right.  I assume in Japan it’s not worth the hassle.

So i found myself getting off in Shibuya mercilessly trying to follow the google map. (which from personal experience and  my sense of direction had a part to play) It took me 30 mins to find – apparently google map doesn’t work so well in Japan and especially South Korea.

When you arrive its on the basement floor but theres a sign before you step down on the staircase.  Being remarkably early there wasn’t any ques as of yet.

You wont miss it! The sign is quite big.

Walking down a flight of stairs you will see a vending machine. This is how you order:

Choose your options according to preferences.
You can opt for plain or with Sliced Pork, wood ear mushroom, and seaweed.

They also have something called the second round noodles. Kan Dama – Which means after you finish your bowl they will refill it with 1 order of noodles – 190 Yen or half bowl of Noodles 130 Yen. Interesting! I assume it’s not to waste any of their thick broth. There are extras such as their special vinegar, half boiled eggs and extra onions for toppings.

Closer look at the additional toppings you can order.

After you paid, a waiter will show you to an empty booth.

Check your preference and hand your order with your receipt.
Choose how you prefer your ramen. Luckily it’s in english!
I ordered their premium vinegar. Quite pricey.

Walking to your booth there are hangers to hang up your coat as well as tissue paper and toothpick dispensers on the wall.

This is your little booth – Water dispenser is on left side.
They will lift up the bamboo divider to take your order and deliver your order.
The sides – My egg and a wet napkin is delivered first. Smells fantastic. Albeit a bit lonely.
Bowl is quite big and the red paste is a blend of some spice and red chilies i presume.

The food arrived and you can smell the porkiness. Mine was with 1 clove of garlic, extra rich soup, medium dashi and medium noddles. The noodles was on the thin side which i prefer i’m not a fan of too thick ramen noodles. The broth is very fatty. I’m sure there’s alot of pork richness in there as well as lots of pork fat emulsified into the soup and probably marrow. The mouth felt like cream. Light, yet a dense texture. The pepper paste wasn’t too spicy maybe should have ordered 10. I think the best way to go is to eat some of the noodles with the broth, then with the chilli paste and then with the vinegar to cut the richness. The egg was a half cooked egg with a slightly runny yolk, the pork felt a tiny bit dry to me although dunk it in soup and it’s fine. The wood ear mushroom i think helped give that nice texture. The vinegar has a slight body to the acidic taste. Expensive but you need some vinegar to cut through the fat. Quite an interesting experience. Lonely eating but not bad. Honestly i preferred this to Ipudo. However, i had Ippudo in Thailand so maybe it can’t be compared. Do buy their instant ramen home as a souvenir to friends and family. Maybe you can bring a bit of Japan back home.

Arrive early to beat the ques and dont get lost! Allocate about 1500 yen per person or 1000 with plain with no additionals.

Orochon Ramen — The Spiciest Ramen in LA..

Interesting stuff….  I’ve heard of the spiciest curries, both Japanese and Indian or maybe the hottest chilli contest but the spiciest ramen?  My best cuz in LA took me to this shop which was featured on Man vs Food, again coming from asia the portions are HUGE!  I chose the 3rd level spicy ramen in Shio broth while my two peeps chose the 4th level with miso broth.  The eggs weren’t properly cooked tho, it was hard boiled which is rare to see in Japanese ramen shops since they almost always featured onsen eggs or soft boiled eggs.  The shio broth was easy to eat i must say, not too thick while the miso was rather rich and salty.  I mixed the two soups together and found it perfect. The pork was cooked right, although i would prefer more Japanese scallions in my ramen.  The spiciness was more heat like peppery heat rather than the chilli heat us thais are used too.  I loved the experience hanging out with my cuz… It was great fun…  If you eat like an asian, well not american born asian, the portions are huge so sharing is fine.

Orochon Menu

Drinks Selection

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Ambience & Hall of Fame

Servers are nice, but i think drinks are a bit pricy.  If you order drinks it comes in a can, i guess i’m used to those refillable teas, but the fun comfy shop makes up for it.  It was crowded when we ate, but the tables were nicely spaced apart.  Simply you weren’t too squished together.  There’s both indoor and outdoor seating, if i remember correctly about 20 people outside and maybe 30 people inside?

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Calpico – Yogurty Soda…

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Green Tea – Non Sweetened

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A slight disappointment… Should be soft boiled or at least a really runny yolk…

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Shio Ramen – 3rd Level Spicy

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Miso Ramen – 4th Spiciness Level

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Delicious Level —- Empty Bowls… Go Figure…

All in all, a great experience.  Go look at the walls, it’s funny!  The small sized people are the ones who win pretty often!!  If i ever fly back to USA i’d definitely go back and try the spiciest level.  Might bring my own soft boiled eggs tho…