Don’t line up with the other tourists — locals know a secret way to beat the crowds.

If you’re a fan of tonkotsu ramen, then Hakata in Fukuoka, on the island of Kyushu, is a destination you’ll want to put on your bucket list. Hakata is the birthplace of tonkotsu ramen and one of its most famous exports is Ichiran, a ramen chain that specialises in the dish.

So it makes sense that tourists who visit the area might want to eat at a branch of Ichiran in its hometown, which makes one particular location, Tenjin Nishidori in the downtown area, particularly popular with visitors.

Located out on the street, its iconic signage draws the tourists in, with long lines out the door every day. However, there is a way that visitors can avoid the queues, if they make like the locals and avoid this location altogether.

Our reporter Masanuki Sunakoma was in the area recently, and after seeing the long lines he wanted to spread the word about a nearby Ichiran that’s far less conspicuous, meaning you can walk right in without waiting.

▼ Before taking us to the hidden spot, he snapped a photo of the crowd on the street waiting to eat at the Tenjin Nishidori branch, just for comparison.

Despite the huge signage, there are only 28 seats at this branch, so long queues are the norm. However, rather than wait half an hour in line, diners can skip the crowds by taking a seven-to-eight-minute walk to the Tenjin branch (marked on the top right, below).

The Tenjin branch is located in the basement of a swanky 21-floor building known as the Tenjin Business Centre.

This building has 19 stories above ground and two below, with Ichiran located at the very bottom. Unlike the other branch, you might walk by this one and totally miss it, as the signage is limited to a small noren curtain on one side of the building.

▼ Head under the curtain and you’ll see an overhead sign guiding you to the basement.

▼ Enter through the glass door and head down the stairs…

▼ …then go down another flight of stairs…

▼ …and another…

▼ …and you’ll arrive at the Tenjin branch of Ichiran!

The number of seats at this location is 28, the same as the other location, but as you can see, there are no lines here at all.

▼ According to the information board, there were 10 vacant seats at the time of our visit.

That’s a huge difference to the branch over at Tenjin Nishidori. Granted, business hours here are shorter — Tenjin Nishidori is open from 10:00 a.m. to 7:00 a.m. the next day, while this branch is open from 11:00 a.m.-11:00 p.m. — but during the busy lunch and dinner hours this place will be your saving grace every day.

▼ Less waiting time means more eating time, which is always a good thing.

So if you ever find yourself hankering for a bowl of Ichiran in Hakata, now you know how to skip the lines filled with tourists and escape to a quieter, underground Ichiran frequented by locals.

Of course, you don’t even have to venture out to eat Ichiran anymore, so if eating at home is more your thing, you can always recreate the chain’s solo-booth dining experience right in your very own kitchen!

Restaurant Information

Ichiran Tenjin / 一蘭 天神店
Address: Fukuoka-ken, Fukuoka-shi, Chuo-ku, Tenjin 1-10-20 B2F
福岡市中央区天神1-10-20 B2F
Hours: 11:00 a.m.-11:00 p.m.

Photos © SoraNews24
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