Korakuen Iekei Ramen Truck Yaro Since 2021 celebrates Japan’s culture of decorated trucks

There are a number of ramen restaurant chains in Japan worth visiting, each with its own unique selling points and individual charm. Korakuen is one of those restaurant chains, and they’re known for marching to their own beat of the drum with out-there menu items like Mochi Ice Cream Ramen and gyoza with chocolate cookies.

As it turns out, Korakuen’s menu items aren’t the only things that are out-there, as the chain opened two rebranded stores, one in Chiba and one in Saitama, last November, under the name “Korakuen Iekei Ramen Truck Yaro Since 2021“.

Truck Yaro” (“Truck Rascals” or “Truck Guys“) refers to the popular ’70s film series of the same name, which saw a pair of truckers driving around Japan in highly decorated trucks, helping women out during their travels and inevitably falling in love with them. The films became so popular that they sparked a trend amongst Japanese truckers known as “dekotora” (“decorated trucks”), where the large goods vehicles were decorated with all sorts of lights and extra adornments.

▼ There’s even a famous dekotora known as the “Aki Kannon”, which went on display in Shibuya for a limited time last year.

Korakuen Iekei Ramen Truck Yaro Since 2021 tips its hat to the movie, and dekotora culture, with a number of unusual design details, despite its relatively staid exterior.

▼ The branch in Kashiwa City, Chiba

▼ The sign at the front of the store says, “Love for trucks and ramen by Truck Yaro”

Stepping inside the restaurant reveals an exterior you don’t see at other branches of Korakuen — there are round marker lights, usually used to indicate the width of a vehicle, lined up along the booth partitions.

▼ And on the ceiling, tail lights!

If you look closely at the ceiling, you’ll see the patterned lining often used on the driver’s seat of long-distance trucks. This is a nice way of adding a sense of warmth and comfort to the otherwise metal-heavy interior.

Speaking of metal, the “non-slip iron plate” used on truck beds is a primary feature, giving a tough, hard look to the partitions throughout the dining area.

The highlight of the space, however, is the projection mapping, which shows the image of a dekotora on a feature wall.

▼ After a while, the truck transforms into…a bowl of ramen!

The projection mapping is a very clever addition to the interior, and though the whole space may seem less flashy than expected, it reminds us that the key to a perfect dining experience, as any ramen restaurant owner would know, is balance. The design features are just right for the space — not so overwhelming as to put diners off their food, and not so understated as to disappoint fans of dekotora.

▼ Would this mastery of balance be seen in the food as well?

Using the tabletop tablet, we ordered the Truck Yaro Ramen (680 yen [US$4.70]) with a side of gyoza (220 yen), and got a free bowl of rice as part of a special deal for those who order ramen.

▼ When it arrived, it looked fantastic, and we couldn’t wait to tuck in.

The first thing that caught our eye was a fun message printed on the seaweed that read: “Love for trucks and ramen by Truck Yaro“.

Aw. That touching message warmed the cockles of our truck-and-ramen-loving hearts, and as we gazed at it, we tried one of the gyoza, which was crispy on the outside and soft and moist on the inside — just how we like them.

As the name of the restaurant suggests, the specialty here is Iekei ramen, a type of ramen first created in Yokohama that contains a pork marrow and soy sauce broth, and straight, thick noodles.

▼ The broth here didn’t have the same heartiness as the Iekei we’re used to eating, but it was still rich and flavourful.

The noodles were flat, chewy and slightly thick, and went well with the broth. We’re not sure if we’d go so far as to say these matched the style of an authentic Iekei, but it was a good bowl of ramen nonetheless.

Ramen is a staple dish for truckers, who can pull up and enjoy the hearty dish as a quick meal while on the road, so it’s nice to see so much love for the two come together at this branch of Korakuen.

If you want to feast your eyes on even more dekotora, there’s plenty to see at the national dekotora association!

Restaurant Information

Korakuen Iekei Ramen Truck Guys since 2021 Shonancho Store / 幸楽苑の家系らーめんトラック野郎 since2021 沼南町店
Address: Chiba-ken, Kashiwa-shi, Minowa 759
Open: 9:00 a.m.-10:00 p.m. 8:30 a.m.-10:00 p.m. (Sat and Sun)

Photos © SoraNews24
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