After a pandemic-induced hiatus, Ichiran is back. The restaurant, which has long distinguished itself by feeding its guests only one dish — tonkotsu ramen — and in isolation (you consume your meal in an individual ramen focus booth designed to allow you to focus on the flavors of your bowl with minimal distractions) has reopened its midtown and Brooklyn stores.
The experience of dining at Ichiran may seem a bit off-putting, even Orwellian, to first-timers. For one thing your contact with humans is limited. As I observed in my September 2019 review, you wait at the front of the restaurant in a line that sometimes snakes outside until a number you have been assigned appears on a lightboard. You then walk to the booth with the corresponding number, where you will find a paper menu and pencil waiting for you. You check off your preferences and press a call button. A window at the back of your cubicle opens, your selections are verified orally, the paper is whisked away, and the window closes.
As for the ramen, it’s pretty good — the slightly milky broth powerful, even restorative, the thin slices of pork tender, the noodles (which are made fresh daily) appropriately slurpy.
Bonus tip: The restaurant will be gifting a free Tsuya Men Ramen kit to all eat-in customers who follow Ichiran on Instagram from Apr. 3 to Apr. 11.