The tonkotsu pork broth ramen specialists branch out into new territory for foreign customers.

If you had to name one of Japan’s most famous tonkotsu ramen chains, there’s a good chance that Ichiran would be at the top of the list.

With locations around the country, Ichiran restaurants often have lines out the door, as their hearty bowls of pork-broth ramen are famously worth waiting for. And not only is their ramen delicious, but their service system is fun and unique too, as customers eat at solo booths, with meals and order sheets passed through a bamboo curtain.

This no-words-required ordering system makes it easy for anyone to order a top-quality bowl of noodles, and Ichiran has become increasingly popular with non-Japanese speaking customers as a result.

Now, though, the pork-broth ramen specialists have sent shockwaves through the noodle-loving community in Japan by announcing the unthinkable: they’ll be opening a 100-percent porkless broth ramen restaurant in Tokyo.

According to reports, the move is designed to accommodate the needs of their many non-pork eating customers. And while it might seem natural to jump to the conclusion that they’ll now be catering for vegetarians, they’re actually taking a very different approach, as Ichiran says the broth at the new store will be made from chicken. And the chashu roasted pork fillet will be replaced with a slice of beef.

According to Ichiran, Muslim visitors from Southeast Asian countries have become increasingly interested in trying Japanese ramen, and in order to cater to their non-pork eating requirements, Ichiran has been quietly testing and developing a porkless broth for the past two decades.

Now they’re preparing to bring the new ramen to the market, with their first store set to open in Tokyo’s Shinjuku ward in spring 2019. Ichiran says they plan to roll out many more of these 100-percent porkless broth ramen outlets around the country and overseas in the near future.

While the news is sure to please those adhering to a pork-free diet, pork-eating fans of Ichiran are also expressing their excitement at the prospect of trying out the new ramen. Whether or not it will have the same rich, meaty flavour as the original is yet to be seen, but one thing we’re really hoping won’t change is the chain’s legendary loo roll displays.

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