Friday, September 11, 2015

Best Ramen in Tokyo? Ichiran Ramen

       One Sunday night,  approximately 11 in the evening, I was walking in the backstreets of Shinjuku when I saw a line of people going to this ramen place called Ichiran Ramen. The place had a red green circle as a sign but was very conspicuous because it's underground. You wouldn't notice the place not for the long line outside it.  It is at this moment that curiosity got the best of me. 

             The sign of the ramen shop. To go there, ride the JR line going to Shinjuku and exit the Central                                 East Exit then go straight. If there's a long line, you know you are in the right place

The way towards the basement

  Living in Tokyo for about 4 months now, eating ramen now isn't a novelty for me anymore. All my time here, I never saw a ramen with this long a line and to top it off, to see a line at the dead hour of the night. While people should be mostly sleeping in their homes, these people were out in the streets waiting in line for this ramen?! I wondered, could this be the best ramen in Japan?

      My curiosity got the best of me and tried to wait in line myself to see what the fuss was about. Once I was near the entrance, a menu was given to me which explains the process. Yes, there is a process on getting your ramen. 

      First, you have to decide what ramen you want. They have only one type of ramen but you have the option of  adding more noodles, more egg, more meat etc. Once your in, you are greeted with a vendo machine were you have to press in your desired ramen. The prices would be a little less than a thousand yen. (which is not bad since you might be eating the best ramen in Tokyo) and would add up depending on the additonal ingredients you desire. Next, you again wait in line and a piece of paper will handed to you. Don't worry, there's a paper in English and Chinese so you wouldn't get confused. You put your desired specifications of the ramen you want, This would include, the thickness of the sauce, the firmness of the noodles, if you want meat with your ramen, extra onions etc. If you can't decide then you can check the chef's recommendation. While waiting in line a server will ask how many people? You just raise your fingers on how many you are. Then, the waiter will cue you on entering the booth where you will be seated. The booths definitely adds to the wow factor of the place since this is rarely found in ramen across Japan. Once your seated, a tiny wooden curtain will raise in front of you and you give your  ticket stub (you got from the vending machine) to the server. The curtain will close and you wait for your ramen. After 5 mins, the curtain will raise and your ramen is served!

Before you go in, they will show you a guide on how to order

Upon entering, you see a menu vendo machine. You choose the ramen you want,
put the money in the slot, and grab the ticket

After the vending machine, you wait at another line

Check for your preference or just check the chef's recommendation

Upon entering, you these little booths

The "confession box" while you wait for your ramen

 In front is a button were you call for assistance

Ramen is served!!!

The  Verdict

     The ramen is a tonkotsu based, with two small pieces of pork meat, no bamboo shoots, some green onions, egg and noodles. That's it. I tasted the ingredients individually and it is nothing above the ordinary. The soup was great though,  it is not the thick creamy type of tonkotsu broth that you get to have in other ramen shops. The soup is thick enough not to make you have that overbearing feeling after you eat ramen. 
Overall, it was great! It definitely hits the spot. But don't expect some ramen that will totally blow your mind. 

In conclusion

     I think that the ambiance has a lot to do why the the place is always packed. The individualized booths makes you feel that your in confession and the atomenent was eating the bowl of ramen in front of you. The booths also make you focused on your ramen and not with the people around you which I must say makes it tastier and the experience better.

     Overall, I did like the place. It's an experience that I can tell to people. Will I be coming back? It's not something you can come back every week, maybe once a month. The ramen is a little special compared to other ramen but it's not life changing.  

If you're in Japan, and you have only one chance to eat ramen, then you should try this. 

Damage: 800 - 1300 yen
Food: 4/5
English friendly: 4.5/5

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Odaiba! It's more than the Giant Gundam Robot!

1. Palette Town, an amusement center consisting of VenusFort shopping mall (part of which has outlet shops), Mega Web (has the Toyota Museum and showcase center, and Tokyo Leisure land an indoor amusement center  with a kick ass Ferris Wheel.

2. A beach with a mini Statue of Liberty

3. 3 Malls: Aqua City, Diver City and DECKS Tokyo beach ( Has a Madame Tussaud's Wax Museum and Legoland Discovery Center)

4. Fuji TV Headquarters

5. Ooedo Onsen Monogatari: a Traditional Japanese bathhouse

6. The 2 storey Gundam Robot!

Damage: Free (unless you try out the museums, bath house and the Ferris Wheel)

How to got there: Go to Shimbashi Station and take the Yurikamome Line ~ 460 Yen, or you can walk the Rainbow Bridge from Tamachi Station around  1 1/2 hrs.

If you're a foreigner like me, you probably want to go to Odaiba because of the huge Gundam Robot. I mean, who doesn't want to take a selfie with a huge robot right?! But I tell you, there is so much more to Odaiba than the robot!

Recommended: If you have a lot of time in Tokyo. If you want to sunbathe in a beach, looking for alternatives to the Tokyo Shopping Scene, try out a traditional bath house, check out the Gundam Robot, then try Odaiba! 

 Photo courtesy of the Official Tokyo Tourism Guide

If you plan to walk, just remember to follow the rainbow bridge and you wont get lost. You can actually see it from afar.

Once, you get to the start of the bridge, there's a building with an elevator going to the walking path on the side of the bridge.

On top of the bridge, you would see a port and a stunning seaside view of Tokyo

You couls also see the Fuji TV headquarters

The beach is quite nice. There are a few people sunbathing and doing paddle boarding.The sand is brown and fine.

If you want to immediately see the giant robot, go straight to the back of Diver city mall and be amaze! Actually, up close the robot looks like airplane parts that was built into a robot. At some days' it actually moves!

Yes, you can walk between the legs. But do mind your time beneath it because a lot of people would want to walk there too. 

Go to Palette Town and check out this car museum made by Toyota. The best thing about it is it's absolutely FREE!!!

The Toyota Showroom

 Outside, you can see the Ferris Wheel

The Venus Mall has a stunning Atrium. This mall has a lot of luxury brands and has a section of outlet shops. Some of which are luxury brands

Tokyo Big Sight international Exhibition Center

There was a slush convention when I visited this place

Hope this convince you to explore Odaiba!

How to get from Haneda airport to Tokyo by Train

Here’s a step by step process on how to travel from Haneda Airport to Tokyo Central. But first of all, why choose Haneda Airport vs Narita airport. Well, you have no choice. Some airlines go to Haneda and some go to Narita. Haneda is much better because first, it’s much nearer to Tokyo ( 30 mins vs 1 - 1 1/2 hrs ETA depends on train use) and second, because of the distance, Narita train fares going to Tokyo is much more expensive ( Narita express ~ 3000 yen, Rapid train 1300 yen vs ~600 yen via monorail)

Once you have landed. Go to Immigration and register.  

Go to the terminal docks and get your luggage. If you have anything to declare go to the left most side to declare any live animals, illegal drugs and weapons of mass destruction. Even if you don’t declare. They have sniffing dogs that go around your for some suspicious cargo. 

Exit through the gates. Once you have done this go straight and you will find a sign saying monorail and a ticket station. There are two maps on top of the ticketing machine. One in English and the other in Japanese. Note the place of where you are going and remember the corresponding number with that station for this will be the amount that you will b paying in the ticketing machine. For example, my stop is in Tamachi station and the number corresponding to it is 630. That’s 630 yen that I will have to pay.

Find the monorail ticket machine to get your ticket

Check the board above to check what station you wish to go

 The entrance to the monorail is just beside the ticket machine

Go to the right and you'll find an elevator going to the platform

View of Haneda airport from the monorail
 You can check the station which station you are approaching by the lighted sign on top of the door. Hamamatsucho is the last station on the monorail.

You know you're in the JR station when you see large tracks of train

Get down the monorail for transfer to a JR line

Go down the elevator to the Central exit

 Follow the sign saying to JR line

Put in your ticket and remember to get it at the other end

Find your platform by the green signs which indicate the Yamanote line. Line 2 means it's going east to Tokyo

Yamanote line 3 means it's going west to Shibuya

This is the platform we're you will wait for your train. The Yamanote line is above ground which means you have a scenic view of Tokyo while moving from station to station

That’s it! Hope you have a great day in Tokyo!!!