★★★ 一蘭 (Ichi-ran) - Tokyo
Ichi-ran is originally from southern Japan, in Hakata city, Kyushu island. Hakata style ramen is famous for the creamy white soup that is from cooking tonkotsu (pork bones) at very high heat. Tonkotsu soup is famous for having a very unique, strong smell, which some people are not fans of. Ichi-ran's soup does have the smell quite toned down.
The Soup - is tonkotsu (pork bone) based, thick and flavorful with only a hint of the unique smell of tonkotsu. There is quite a bit of oil in the soup, standard for a lot of tonkotsu ramen now a days.
The Noodle - is thin, straight and quite firm. You really need to chew a bit more than normal with this ramen. Actually "hard" would be the better word to describe noodles, giving the noodles a strong presence that counters well with the oily, heavy flavored soup.
The Toppings - were cha-shu pork, quite a bit of green onions, and a special red sauce. The cha-shu was very tender and lightly seasoned, the green onions help offset the little smell that the tonkotsu soup had. The special sauce was quite unique and help give Ichiran ramen more its own personality. The sauce is a blend of 30 different spices, it is spicy, slightly sweet and sour, providing a nice contrast to the thick and oily soup.
Overall - I have always been a fan at the more unrefined variations of tonkotsu ramen like Nanden-Kanden or Goten, but Ichiran ramen has its own strong personality through its many levels of contrasting flavors and textures.