Ichiran’s solo ramen booth restaurant is now open in Midtown at 132 West 31st St. between Sixth and Seventh avenues.
The Japanese chain with a cult following began its U.S. expansion in Bushwick in October 2016, where it was promptly met with long lines. While that location offers a combination of communal tables and the chain’s hallmark solo dining booths, the Midtown location goes totally solo with 46 one-person booths for diners to slurp ramen in isolation. The new outpost is right near Penn Station, primed for a quick ramen meal before and after transit.
The booths are like ramen cubicles, equipped with posters displaying facts about the restaurant’s famed tonkotsu broth ramen, order forms, and pens. Called “Ramen Focus Booths,” they are part of founder Manabu Yoshitomi’s philosophy that people should eat ramen without the distractions of other people. Still, plenty of bells and whistles go along with the system, like a booth seating chart that lights up with numbers to show where diners to go before their meal and lights and beeps throughout meal. See pictures of the Midtown location here.
Unlike the locations in Japan, the system isn’t totally automated here. There, orders are placed in vending machines and then delivered within 15 seconds of ordering. In Midtown, ramen orders are placed on a piece of paper with customizable options like richness, saltiness, and noodle texture, as well as additional toppings. Servers remain unseen, standing behind the booth to collect the order sheets and then deliver the bowl back. Getting ramen orders out fast is still a priority, although it isn’t quite as speedy as with the vending machines overseas.
By 2020, Ichiran plans to open two more NYC locations, though exact locations are still being determined. Current and future locations are supplied by a noodle factory in Bushwick.
This is the 75th location of Ichiran around the world. The restaurant is open from 9 a.m. to 1 a.m. daily. Ichiran Midtown’s menu is below.