Ichiran, the tonkotsu ramen chain known for its individual booths, will open its first open “yatai-style” restaurant on the first floor of its headquarters in Nakasu, Fukuoka City. Dubbed Ichiran Yatai, the new shop will open on Nov. 7 in what used to be the company’s gift shop area. “We are opening [the new shop] because we want tourists to experience Fukuoka’s yatai culture. We have a lot of foreign customers, so this will be a great way to spread the word about yatai to them,” said a spokesperson for Ichiran.
FN staff went along to the pre-opening event today (Nov. 5) to see what all the fuss is about, and were delighted to find an authentic replica of the yatai experience. Two years in the making, the shop was designed with a nostalgic Showa-era theme, and a strong nod to Fukuoka and Hakata culture. The main counter mimics a yatai – complete with lit sign, fabric drapes, wooden frame cart and wheels; the walls are papered with huge skyline images of a neon Nakasu River. It’s almost like the real thing, but with some added perks! There’s guaranteed cleanliness, more spacious seating options, AC, a bathroom, a souvenir shop – features that are certain to please tourists. A soundtrack of old timey enka and nostalgic songs like Kyuu Sakamoto’s “Sukiyaki” add to the atmosphere, and there’s a hidden chalkboard for children to discover in the wooden back wall.
The 65m2 space can seat about 30 customers and serves a wide variety of “Ichiran Butanomaki”, and local Hakata small dishes and drinks. Their trademark ramen however is NOT available, but relax, you can indulge in this guilty pleasure on second floor. We sampled some different Butanomaki – the delicious “3 shoku piman” three colored peppers wrapped in pork, “Niku-Niku” tsukune wrapped in pork, and enoki mushrooms wrapped in pork, as well as light and wonderful handmade tofu, and “Aburiyaki mentaiko” – spicy mentaiko cooked to perfection. Drinks-wise, there’s beer, Fukuoka Prefecture sake, and red and white wine – a drink not usually available at street stalls. After your food, browse the souvenir shop with t-shirts, original condiments, mugs, plus some buttons and toys for the kids. A great and easy way to experience Fukuoka’s yatai culture!
Ichiran Yatai – Open Nov. 7, 2013!
• 5-3-2 Nakasu, Hakata-ku, Fukuoka
• Open 24 hours, every day