Forbes magazine suggested Ichira Ramen as the best ramen in the world. Ichiran Ramen Taipei opened on 15 June 2017, there was a continuous queue for 240 hours. See Asiaone’s 30 June 2017 article “Ichiran Ramen in Taipei beats its own record with 240-hour queue“. Ichiran Ramen Taipei is a 24 hour operation. We thought we should check it out and decided to try our luck by going mid morning. Hopefully we could avoid the breakfast and lunch crowds. Our plan worked quite well. There were only a few people in the queue. We were in after waiting less than 15 minutes.
Ichira Ramen Taipei is located in an area with many banks. It is on the ground floor of an office building where Standard Chartered Bank is located. DBS has a branch at the next building. While waiting we were given the menu and order form so as to have our orders ready by the time we were seated. The basic ramen costs NT$288. There are various add-on options.
We thought that the layout and operations of Ichira Ramen was as interesting as their noodles. There is no open dining area. The place is structured into a few sections. Each section contains two rows of dining cubicles. Each person dines alone in his own cubicle.
This is my dining cubical which contains a call button, a water tap and instructions. The service staff gets access to the window from a service area . My window looks across the people from the next section. We are separated by a service corridor. Silence is encouraged here.
The server picks up the order form from each cubicle and returns later with the noodles. Once the order is fulfilled, the bamboo blind is lowered and the diner is then able to eat in isolation. Proceed to the cashier with the tab to make payment. It was a mechanised system with very little need for verbal communication.
My noodles arrive soon after the order was placed. I had ordered the basic noodles (which comes with slices of cha siu but no egg) of average hardness and spiciness. What does the world best ramen taste like? At first there was disappointment as I was expecting a taste explosion even exceeding that of Ippudo. But there was no blockbuster taste. The tonkotsu broth was smooth and balanced. Average spicy level was already quite spicy enough. I would not want to go beyond that. The broth was salty but not as rich as that as Ippudo. The ramen itself was very good. Smooth and slightly chewy, it is as good as it can get.
Was it really the best ramen in the world. I think it is subjective. Ippudo has a stronger, more distinctive taste. Ichiran is smooth and balanced. It would depend on my mood as well. And also the length of queue – no matter how good I won’t want to queue long for ramen. There are also take away Ichira Ramen for sale. I bought a box and will show you the result when I get down to cooking them.