We taste a tonkotsu ramen 20 years in the making.

Earlier this month, Japanese ramen chain Ichiran made news when they announced they would be releasing their first-ever instant ramen. Over 20 years in development, the new noodles promised to capture everything we love about the chain’s tonkotsu pork-broth ramen, but would they really be up to delivering such a momentous task?

This was something we were curious to find out, so we stopped by our nearest branch when the new noodles were released on 15 February and picked up a pack to go. We were lucky we arrived early because the product proved to be so popular a lot of places sold out later that day. 

One of the things that really piqued our interest about the instant ramen was the fact that it contained the chain’s secret hot sauce–a sauce so special only four people in the entire company know how to make it.

▼ Those four individuals are said to have joined forces to specially prepare the sauce for the new instant version.

Our expectations for the instant ramen were high as we opened up the pack to find three sachets: one containing the special hot sauce, one containing powder for the broth, and another containing liquid for the broth.

Following the instructions, we added the sachets to the noodles inside the bowl and poured boiling water over them. After a short four-minute wait, we peeled off the entire lid and were greeted with a golden, glistening liquid tinged with mouthwatering globules of pork fat, all good indications of a good, rich tonkotsu broth.

One of the hurdles Ichiran faced in bringing their noodles to the instant market was perfecting the fatty thickness of the soup, which is why each pack comes with a sachet each of powder and liquid, to give extra body to the broth.

We dived in with our chopsticks and slurped up a good mouthful of the broth with the noodles. The first thing that hit us was the smooth texture, which was instantly comforting, while the moist, chewy texture of the noodles also stood out as an element worthy of praise.

▼ The quality of these noods was excellent.

As for the broth, this too was excellent, packing a punch with hearty pork flavours and a high level of umami goodness that had us licking our lips with satisfaction after each mouthful. Thinking back to the noodles served at Ichiran branches, we reckoned the instant version was as close as you can get to actually eating there.

▼ The real thing, for comparison.

Fans of Ichiran definitely won’t be disappointed with the chain’s new instant ramen, and cup noodle fans will be happy to shell out the slightly extra expense for a quality instant experience. Priced at 400 yen (US$3.79) each, the noodles can be purchased at convenience stores, supermarkets, Ichiran stores, and online.

While these new noodles are perfectly satisfying when eaten straight from the bowl it comes in, diehard enthusiasts may want to use an authentic bowl from Ichiran to enhance the dining experience. And you can always top it all off with an Ichiran calendar and a homemade Ichiran solo booth to enjoy it in as well!

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