If your greatest fear is solo dining, a new ramen restaurant is ready to normalize the experience of chowing down with only your phone to keep you company. The Japanese chain ICHIRAN, U.S. location in Bushwick Brooklyn brings you closer to your ultimate dream of spending time alone with your beloved meal.
The restaurant plans on rolling out thousands of ramen bowls every day, a quota made possible thanks to their unique “Flavor Concentration Booths.” The booths allow customers to dine alone and not speak to anyone, including their servers.
Further imposing the Zen approach even more strongly, the dinning booth are designed and partitioned in a way, so that you don’t have to worry about interacting with the loner dinner seated to your left or right. The basic idea associated with the concept is to have your focus solely on your food, further allowing you to enjoy your food even more. Ichiran calls this “low interaction dining” in “flavor-concentration booths.” Ichiran says that this “encourages guests to dine alone and focus solely on the bowl of noodles in front of them.”
According to ICHIRAN, the seating “encourages guests to dine alone and focus solely on the bowl of noodles in front of them.” There’s no need to be embarrassed you couldn’t find anyone to join you for a meal, as you won’t even have to make eye contact with fellow strangers.
Diners speak to no one, not even upon arrival or to order. A light panel indicates available booths and food options are limited deliberately. The menu is a soup of long-boiled pig bones, and that’s pretty much it. The stock comes in three strengths, and the broth can be customized to five richnesses by dropping various quantities of liquid fat on top; noodles are made on location and served in five levels of softness with a few toppings. Customers check their preferences on a menu printed on a chopstick sleeve, which is then placed over an electronic eye in each table.
A pair of hands appear magically with a bowl. No faces, pleases or thank you’s.
Critics are divided on the actual quality of the food. “What we have here is a very plain bowl of noodles,” writes senior Eater food critic, Robert Sietsema. But Geoffrey Morrison, writing for Forbes, declared Ichiran the best ramen in the world, noting that its many locations in Japan have lines out the door during lunch and dinner.
Of course, there’s no shortage of ramen shops in Asia, or New York, and many offer far more options than Ichiran. So it’s probably not just the simplicity of the noodles and pork broth that clinched its success, but the rare opportunity it offers for quiet reflection in a hyper-connected frenetic world.
So, if you are ever craving a dining experience with the least bit human interaction and hassle free ordering, you know where to look for!