Eating Ramen Alone in a Tiny Pod Is the Future of Food

No conversation or eye contact. No tipping. No problem.

By Evan Bleier

 
Eating Ramen Alone in a Tiny Pod Is the Future of Food
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20 October 2016

People who need to talk incessantly, as Jerry Seinfeld opined, are the worst.

Never is this more evident than when you’re trying to read or get some work done over a solo lunch only to have another patron who’s immune to social cues try to spark up a conversation.

The Japanese ramen chain Ichiran has solved this problem with a system of separated seating booths that lets diners customize and place their orders, eat, and pay without saying a word.

Upon entering an Ichiran Ramen — the first-ever U.S. location opened in Brooklyn yesterday — customers can choose to sit in the dining room or a “flavor concentration booth.” Those who opt for the latter are brought to a booth that’s equipped with a countertop, swirling stool, a hook for hanging a jacket or backpack, a pen and menu for ordering, and a call button.

After customizing a bowl of pork tonkotsu ramen (strength and richness of soup stock, amount of garlic, scallions and pork, spice level), ordering is as easy as hitting the button and handing over a filled-in paper menu by way of a torso-level window, no eye contact needed.  “Your order has been confirmed,” is the lone verbalization servers dish out. “It will be ready shortly.”

Following a brief wait, when the only noises are kitchen sounds, a buzzer ringing in orders and other diners slurping soup like Oliver Twist after a fast, the meal is served and the slot is shut. Diners can take as long as they want to eat their ramen and — given the fresh house-made noodles, tender pork, 30-spice pepper sauce and flavorful broth — it’s easy to savor it.

The bill is sent through the window at the same time as the food so leaving is a simple matter of getting up, going to the register and paying, no tips accepted.

While a $19 bowl of ramen is on the costly side, it's a small price to pay for being able to enjoy a hot bowl of soup in unlimited peace and quiet. 

Ichiran Brooklyn, 374 Johnson Avenue, Morgan L stop, East Williamsburg; 718-381-0491

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