Thursday, December 27, 2012

Fukuoka - Ichiran and then some

As I’ve always said and tweeted many times over: Ramen and coffee are best friends. In my book anyways. There’s something very satisfying about the combination and in that order of course. While everyone knows there’s good ramen to be had in Fukuoka, I wasn’t so sure about the coffee scene and whether coffee bars were as commonplace as in the bigger cities I’ve visited.

Join the queue
But first things first: a visit to Ichiran. One of the meccas of ramen in Fukuoka with many branches over Kyushu.

Vending machine for noodles
It’s not a full service restaurant so you literally have to get a meal ticket from the vending machine out front, then join the queue. Once it’s your turn the greeter shows you to your seat and then all you deal with is a pair of hands behind a curtain that unveils into the kitchen. You hardly see the server because there is no real need to. This is serious business where even if you come as a party, you eat individually, in your own little cubicle no less.

A little homework before you get your grub
Fill out your preferences including strength of noodles to the garnishes and whether you need a Kaetama (an extra serving of noodles for your leftover soup).
The reason we came here
That wondrous bowl arrives a few minutes later and then any chatter dies down, only to be replaced by slurps, oohs and aahs. Yes, it is a delicious concoction of rich but ungreasy stock made from pork bones, then consumed with very al dente noodles (iron and steel tensile strength), tender and thinly sliced pork shoulder and given a little kick with a lot of spring onions and their special chili sauce.

Do her thing with the hand drip
Although diehards tend to want to savor the goodness for longer, I like finishing my experience with a very good coffee. In this case, we were lucky to chance upon a little hole in the wall a couple of doors down the little alley from Ichiran, run by a very friendly lady and her husband. The hand drips on the counter attracted me to it and saved me from the huge Starbucks and Seattle’s Best on the street just perpendicular to the alley. Phew!

Le Petit Prince menu
Unfortunately our Japanese language skills were non-existent so we couldn’t even enjoy the menu she put inside The Little Prince reprint. But sign language and more pointing got us far enough to get us a well roasted hand dripped pour of aromatic but light coffee. And of course the out-of-the-world strawberry cream cake which another nice little lady at the counter with us nodded in approval.

The wowzer of a strawberry cream cake
Even despite the language barrier, they were excitedly talking about us and the fact that they had visitors all the way from Singapore.  (We assume all good since we heard Singapore like 7 times in 30 minutes).  And so helpful were they that they even tried to find us our dinner venue on their iPad. Guess we do need these great gadgets to bridge communication gaps afterall!

一蘭 天神店
天神1-10-15, 福岡市中央区
福岡県 810-0001

Oasis Coffee
天神2-3-39, 福岡市中央区
福岡県 810-0001

*Disclaimer: I don't read Japanese and have relied on the world wide web and foursquare to figure out addresses so if you get lost, just enjoy the city!  I do know that at least I got the area right!


  1. Excellent photos and great commentary. Enjoyed your review and want to try this place when we arrive.

    1. Thank you for reading. I hope you enjoy the city as much as we did. Do share your experience back here!