Ramen, noodles in soup, is an extremely popular dish both inside and outside of Japan. It is quick to eat, filling, and very tasty, particular if you are drunk. There are ramen stalls all across Japan, open late night, and stereotypically eaten by business men (salarymen as they are known in Japan) on their way back home from work. As you may know, you are expected to slurp up the noodles noisily from your chopsticks (even with the time spent in Japan, I never did learn how to slurp noodles). Today I will introduce Tonkatsu ramen, or pork bone ramen, which is particularly famous where I lived, in Fukuoka. As they originate from that region, they are also called Hakata Ramen.
Tonkatsu Ramen contains broth made with pork bones and collagen (claiming that it is good for your skin). Because it is broth it is filling and an extremely appropriate dish during cold weather. My favorite ramen place in Fukuoka was Ichiran. It’s a very interesting restaurant. Allow me to explain:
- First you stand outside of the restaurant and select and pay for the item you would like from a ticket machine (it’s like a vending machine
- Then you wait in line with your party until they have room for you
- When they have room they rush you in, yelling, as in standard Japanese practice, that there are new guests here. All the staff will yell their welcome.
- You are led past rows of stalls. They are like work cubicles. You sit in one and your companions sit in others. Basically, you can’t see your friends and you are isolated in a stall.
- Right in front of your cubicle is a curtain. Behind the curtain is the kitchen. You slip your ticket through the curtain.
- The person behind takes it. You can grab water at your personal water fountain in your stall.
- After a while, the curtain opens briefly and your food comes in.
- The rest of your meal is eaten by yourself in silence. Even if your friends are right beside you (it’s all walled).
- If you want more, or refills, you fill in a form, ring the buzzer in your cubicle, and the person behind the curtain will take your order
The first time I went there I thought it was totally bizarre!!!