Ichiran arguably makes the greatest mass-produced ramen in the world.
My first encounter was back in Osaka around September 2014. Yes, this was the one near the bridge by the riverbank. And yes, this is the one where troops line up for hours. Being so, I gave up and settled for somewhere forgettable.
Now that I live here, Ichiran is part of my regular ramen rotation. In Kyoto, there is one in Shijo. In Osaka, there are 2 in the Namba/Dotombori area (shhh, the 2nd one is a secret).
The sole resonating point of why you should eat at Ichiran is customization. After popping 790 yen for the basic ramen, the staff should hand you a white paper with a lot of options. Some include: amount of spring onions, noodle firmness, pork cutlet option, amount of Ichiran sauce (i think this ranges from 1-infinity), and so on. It’s like one of those painting stalls you can find in malls. You can buy a pre-designed canvas and go crazy painting over it. There must be thousands of combinations for an Ichiran bowl of ramen. I have been there more than 10x already and I swear that I have tried different sets every time. You can even have noodle refills for an additional fee!
I recommend getting seats in the bar-like area. It just creates an atmosphere unlike any other ramen joint.
If there’s one thing about lining up for food in Japan that I have learned: it is worth it every time.