The true origin of ramen is not clear. Some say it is originally from Chinese, some say it is invented by Japanese. It is true that after World War II, Japanese ramen was hugely impacted by Chinese ramen style and Chinese cuisine generally, since Chinese restaurants started to spread then when Japanese troops returned after the World War and Second Sino-Japanese War. The other truth known is Momofuku Ando, the Taiwanese-Japanese founder and chairman of Nissin Foods, invented instant noodle in 1958. This accelerate the development of Japanese style ramen or noodle soup, leading to the opening of the first ramen museum in Yokohama in 1994.
Now, ramen becomes a typical Japanese cuisine although all Asian countries have their own styles of noodle soup. Japanese ramen is also unique because the culture surrounding it. Ramen restaurants in Japan usually only serve ramen with nothing else. Thus, it gives consumers a casual environment and fast serving atmosphere. It is most popular among salary men because ramen places open late. The cost is low comparing with other cuisines and it is a place that single person won't feel awkward to enjoy the meal alone.
We would like to share with you Ichiran Ramen 天然とんこつラーメン一蘭, a famous and typical Japanese style ramen chain started in Fukuoka in 1966. The current chain has developed a unique otaku friendly environment with self-service style and a curtain in between the kitchen and the customer. Line up outside the store, all customers will be given a menu (in cities like Osaka that has a lot of international visitors, menu in Korean, Chinese, English are all available). You can basically customize your order by choosing broth flavor, richness, with or without garlic, onion, pork, special sauce volume and the hardness of the noodles.
The menu is not all and very important, you have to bring cash with you (many ramen places and even restaurants in Japan only accept cash). Then you will go to the vending machine when it's your turn, then simply select the type of ramen you will need. Typical styles include shoyu (soy sauce), shio (salt), miso, tonkotsu - the one Ishiran Ramen focuses on, and others. In some ramen places, you can also choose side dishes or toppings on the vending machine. Toppings typically include menma (bamboo shoots based), negi (base with chopped or shredded leeks or green onions), moyashi (bean sprouts), tamago (egg, hard-boiled, half-boiled or raw), seaweed, corn, butter, etc. Side dishes are usually gyoza (fried dumplings), friend or steam rice, etc. Dessert like green tea flavored pudding or ice-cream is popular at ramen places.
You will get tickets of things you ordered via the vending machine, along with the filled-in menu earlier, you will go to the seat assigned by the waiter/waitress, submitting everything there. At Ichiran Ramen, the curtain between the working area and you will be open so workers can come to take your order. After everything is served, the curtain will be down to offer a private dining experience for you. At a simple small stall type area like this, you will have the best authentic Japanese ramen. Mmm, every single drop of the soup, easy bite of the food inside is just amazing. A Must Try!