Japan's ramen king Ichiran — famous for its individual seating booths, bright red chili oil, and deep devotion to tonkotsu — is slated to land in NYC sometime this year. As rabid ramen fans already know, the team announced that they would open a shop in East Williamsburg and one in Chelsea, but left out any and all crucial details about where everyone should start lining up for those bowls of noodles. A hefty amount of internet dumpster diving reveals that the team is applying for a liquor license at 386 Johnson Avenue, right near the Morgan L stop and another at 123 West 20th Street, a sort of residential Chelsea block. Neither license appears to be official yet, but both are moving along that treacherous application path in that direction.
There's been some pushback on the Chelsea project, which SLA documents show would be a 116 seat 2-story restaurant with 42 of those booths and 74 "table seatings." Neighbors and the community board want the restaurant to close no later than 10:30 p.m. and include an indoor waiting area, so the sidewalk isn't clogged up or noisy. But, provided the restaurant complies, that application could get a sign-off from the state.
Things seem to be going a bit more smoothly across the river where Ichiran may be opening more than just a ramen-ya. The Commodore's Chris Young, who just opened Mexican tiki bar El Cortez around the corner says he spoke with a construction manager for the space around the new year and was told that a Japanese restaurant and factory were moving into the space. Also, that "the lot next to us was going to be a hydraulic parking lot for it." A large commissary kitchen seems perhaps a bit more likely than a full on factory, but anything is possible with a restaurant group that already operates more than 50 outlets.
Meanwhile, the Ichiran team is hiring a GM and staying mum about its New York projects for now, but according to its Facebook page the ramen booths should land late this year and or early next year. Until we know more, sate your ramen cravings with this menu — courtesy of the restaurant's SLA application. As to be expected, it's all about that tonkotsu.