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