After nearly a decade filled with rumors and false starts, Ichiran—the beloved Japanese ramen chain, famous for solely serving tonkotsu, and seating patrons at private cubicles—will finally open its first outpost in New York City beginning this week.
Though Ichiran operates 61 locations in Japan, and has been called one of the best ramen restaurants in the world, the chain will begin to build the foundation of its American empire in East Williamsburg, Brooklyn on Wednesday.
According to Grub Street, the new restaurant is located at 374 Johnson Avenue, just a few blocks from the Morgan Avenue L stop, and adjacent to the company’s production facility. The restaurant seats 82 guests, and while the outpost will ditch the Japanese branch’s practice of having customers order at a vending machine—and also offer group seating—patrons will still be able to sit at the company’s notorious “flavor concentration” booths.
In a process that feels reminiscent of sitting in a voting booth, diners sit down at private nooks, fill out menu cards, and customize their meal to their own precise preferences—options like scallion thickness, the number of garlic cloves used in the broth, and the dosage of Ichiran chile sauce drizzled on top.
Each booth at Ichiran is designed so that the diner does not actually see his or her server. Instead, a pair of arms comes by, takes each guest’s menu, and returns with a hot bowl of tonkotsu. Once the ramen is delivered, the server pulls down the blinds, leaving the patron alone with their thoughts, their soup, and their silenced cell phone (no talking!).
By eliminating as many outside distractions as possible, Ichiran lore says customers are able to enjoy the ramen with all of their senses. After a decade-long wait, New Yorkers will be expecting nothing short of a transcendent experience.
[via Grub Street]