We show you how to set up your very own Ichiran ramen solo booth at home.

“Ah, if only I could go back to Kyushu!”

This is something our Japanese-language reporter K. Masami has been sighing about recently, as the government is currently asking people to avoid travelling during the year-end holidays due to a spike in coronavirus cases.

Not being able to return to her hometown, and a place she loves dearly, is something a lot of us can relate to due to travel restrictions around the world right now. But whether you’re a local missing Kyushu, or an overseas resident missing Japan, there is a way to fill the gaping hole in your heart — through food!

Masami decided to fill her heart through her belly with a specialty Kyushu is known for: tonkotsu ramen. And for her, like a lot of us, nowhere does tonkotsu ramen quite like Kyushu-born ramen chain Ichiran. It’s not just their hearty, delicious bowls of noodles that have people lining up outside their branches, it’s the way it’s served and eaten too, at solo counter booths called “the taste concentration counter“.

▼ Because slurping your noodles in private allows you to fully concentrate on the taste.

Ichiran must know how customers like Masami are feeling right now, as they’ve come up with a way for diners to enjoy their noodles at home — with the “Parent-child Ichiran Set with Children’s Donburi“.  Donburi is the name given to a large bowl, like the one used for noodles, and seeing as Masami didn’t own one of these at home, she put in an order for the set…because you don’t have to be or have a child to use it.

▼ When the set arrived, it had everything she would need to recreate the Ichiran experience at home.

The pack contained two “Ichiran Ramen Hakata Thin Straight Noodles“, Two “Ichiran Ramen Curly Noodles“, “Secret Red Powder“, and the “Children’s Donburi“. Masami was particularly thrilled with the donburi, as it looked identical to the ones used at Ichiran ramen joints.

▼ The chain’s special “secret red powder” was also a nice bonus.

Masami was keen to start cooking up the ramen, but she felt as if something was missing. That’s when she realised…the taste concentration counter! How on Earth could she get that Ichiran feel without the solo booth to hide her from the world and awaken her taste buds?

Unfortunately, the solo booth doesn’t come included with the set, so Masami made up her own, using some cardboard…

▼ …And a makisu bamboo mat usually used for rolling sushi!

Masami was pleased with the end result – sure, it wasn’t exactly like the real thing, but when she sat inside the space she’d created, she got the same feeling as being at Ichiran, and that was exactly what she was after.

She was finally ready to start cooking, so she opened the pack of straight noodles and cooked them up according to the instructions.

It didn’t take long for the meal to be ready, and Masami served it to herself through the bamboo screen — the same way it’s served at Ichiran.

While the ramen would no doubt taste great in any bowl, having the Ichiran ramen bowl to eat from made the dish seem ten times more special.

So how did it taste? Masami sat herself down at the Taste Concentration Counter, picked up a heap of noodles, and slurped them up excitedly. The taste was…Ichiran! It may not have been as fresh as the ones served at the store, but the signature flavour was definitely there, filling her taste buds with rich, meaty flavours, and filling her heart with joy.

Masami isn’t usually one to sing her own praises, but she couldn’t deny that she’d done a pretty awesome job at recreating the Ichiran experience. The bowl and the homemade Taste Concentration Counter really added to the experience, and Masami now says she plans on eating other meals at the counter, to see if it helps to enhance the flavour of other dishes too.

With more and more people eating at home these days, the Parent-child Ichiran Set with Children’s Donburi has been popular, and is only available in limited numbers for shipping within Japan, so you’ll have to act quick if you want to get your hands on them!

Available at some Ichiran stores and online for 4,300 yen (US$41.53), the set is a great way to feel like you’re in Kyushu right now. But no matter where you are in the world, you can always add an Ichiran vibe to your noodles with your own handmade solo counter at home, where you won’t have to worry about receiving puzzling notes from a stranger in the booth next to you.

Photos © SoraNews24
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