Many Travelers Agree This Bucket List Japanese Ramen Restaurant Is Severely Overrated

Ramen is a must-try dish when visiting Japan. Thankfully, you'll have no issue finding the staple meal anywhere in the country. A ramen shop is never far, whether a tiny independent establishment holding just a few patrons at a time or a large, well-known brand.

Many Nipponophiles are familiar with Ichiran, the ramen restaurant known for offering individual seating. If you're traveling by yourself and loving it, the chain eatery can be a tempting spot to grab a quick meal. Simply order your ramen from the ticket machine, sit at a single-person booth, and eat your bowl of steamy ramen in private. The restaurant's ordering and dining process can be especially ideal for tourists who aren't comfortable or able to speak Japanese since minimal social interaction is required.

With these features, it's no wonder crowds flock to Ichiran locations across Japan. This is especially true in major tourist hubs, where it's common to find a line of people outside the popular ramen eatery. However, some ramen fans believe Ichiran is overrated and not worth the hype.

Ichiran Ramen is considered mediocre by many

Ichiran may be a chain ramen shop, but don't mistake it for a low-quality fast-food experience. The restaurant serves flavorful Hakata-style ramen with a rich tonkotsu broth, matured over several hours and topped with Ichiran's original fiery red sauce. With that said, many locals and tourists familiar with Japan's ramen scene say there are better noodle soups to be found in the East Asian destination. Tokyo-based content creator @whatthepato wrote in a Threads post, "Ichiran is considered overrated and has become a tourist spot locals avoid going to," eliciting agreement from followers in the comments.

On Reddit, users have shared similar discussions. In r/ramen, u/Zoozoobird1 wrote, "I found online Ichiran Ramen is praised like it's the best ramen but when I went there twice I found it kindly sodium heavy and it was just alright." While some Redditors argued that Ichiran is one of the best chain ramen restaurants, others pointed out that the flavor is average compared to other establishments.

A similar perspective can be found on TikTok. After traveling to Tokyo, @mikenouveau shared a video of things he recommends tourists skip, including eating at Ichiran. "This is some of the most mid ramen you're going to find in Tokyo," he argued. If you want to get the most out of your food tourism experience, Ichiran might not be worth your time.

Other places to eat ramen in Japan

The best ramen spots will depend on which cities you visit in Japan, and while chains like Ichiran can be easy to find wherever you go, doing a little extra research can pay off. If you're in Tokyo, the city that has the most Michelin-starred restaurants in the world, consider trying a Michelin-approved bowl of noodles. There are currently three to choose from: Ginza Hachigo, Konjiki Hototogisu, and Nakiryu.

If you can't find a seat at one of these awarded spots — or if your trip to Japan doesn't include a stop in the capital — use online reviews to select the tastiest eateries. Tabelog is a Japanese food review site, while Ramen Database (written as "ラーメンデータベース") is a site focused solely on ramen restaurants. Use a translation app or extension to help you search for ramen in your area.

Finally, don't overlook other national and regional chains; these offer distinct flavors and styles of ramen. They are also an excellent choice if you wish to stick to known ramen hubs. Ippudo, Ramen Jiro, Aoba Ramen, and Kyushu Jangara are a few others that you may stumble upon while exploring Japan.