Is "Fancy" Ichiran Ramen in Ginza Special, or Just More Expensive?
If you're a fan of ramen, you've no doubt heard of (and probably been to) Ichiran, one of the most popular and widespread Hakata-style ramen shops in the world. But did you know that a new Ichiran opened in Ginza, Tokyo in October of 2019 that serves "fancier" ramen dishes? We went to see if there's really any difference.
Is the "Fancy" Ichiran Ramen in Ginza any Different? We Wanted to Know.
According to the official Ichiran website, the new Ginza location serves ramen with specially developed noodles and chashu that can only be eaten there.
Just how different is it really? We wanted to know, so we headed straight to Ginza to find out.
But First, We Dropped by a Regular Ichiran to Compare the Difference
We went at peak lunchtime (12 pm) and had to wait about 30 minutes to get in! It's quite a well-known and popular ramen shop, after all.
The Standard Ichiran 'Ramen'
They're easy to slurp and are the perfect thickness to match the soup, which is a fairly light tonkotsu broth that gets a wonderful kick from the secret red flavoring.
After eating the standard Ichiran ramen, it's easy to see why it is so well-loved by the masses. It doesn't have an overly powerful taste or smell that sometimes accompanies tonkotsu ramen and is easy to eat over and over again.
How does the ramen in Ginza compare, though? We headed to the Ginza Ichiran next to see for ourselves!
The Relative Fanciness of the Ginza Ichiran is Felt as Soon as you Reach the Entrance
Surprisingly, we didn't have to wait at all to get in when we arrived at around 1:00 pm. Perhaps the word hasn't spread about this place quite yet.
Just like in the regular Ichiran, we again ordered the 'Ramen' with everything as recommended.
Is it... Ramen?
In Japanese, these traditional stacked boxes are called 重箱 (juubako) and have traditionally been used for fancy donburi (rice bowls) called 'juubako donburi.'
It's a fancy touch to be sure, but is the ramen inside any different than normal?
Ginza Ichiran's version of the ramen is ¥1,180 compared with ¥980 for the regular Ichiran ramen. Is it really worth the extra ¥200, though?
Apparently, it's exactly the same soup as used at any other Ichiran, and the flavor was the same. If anything, the soup near the larger chashu was slightly sweetened by the sauce, but that's about it.
The Specially-Developed Noodles
The Special Chashu - This is Definitely Better!
- I live in west Tokyo and spend most of my time thinking about food or going bouldering.