Japanese ramen noodles held over a bowl with chopsticks
Food - Drink
Ichiran: The Japanese Ramen Restaurant That Is Every Introvert's Dream
For some, dining out alone is more like a nightmare than a relaxing experience, but ramen chain Ichiran lets guests dine in individual booths to eliminate this self-consciousness.
Ichiran founder Manabu Yoshitomi started out when the future ramen café chain was just a small family enterprise. He got the idea for Ichiran's solo seating arrangements in 1993.
When Yoshitomi was getting ready to open his first ramen restaurant, he talked to potential customers in the area as a form of market research. His findings were surprising.
Yoshitomi discovered that local women didn't like slurping ramen in public restaurants. Annie Chen, an official spokesperson for Ichiran, further explains this history to us.
Chen told Tasting Table, "These comments and [Yoshitomi's] experience as a young chef gave him the idea to create the solo ramen focus booths."
Chen added, "Keeping the chefs away from the customer's eyes helps create a sense of mystery that enhances [...] the food." Yoshitomi's ramen, and his solo dining booths, took off.
Yoshitomi even installed tabletop sensors to alert staff when a customer was ordering, streamlining the dining experience and keeping socializing to a minimum for quiet customers.