we ate a lot of ramen in japan. probably more than we should admit. and much to our surprise, most ramen shops were synonymous with electronic vending machines. no, no, no… the ramen isn’t made and dispensed by a vending machine, but rather it allows for personalized customization and streamlines the ordering process – no servers or checkout necessary. all ordering and payment is handled by the machine.
our first bowl of japanese ramen was at ICHIRAN Dotonbori in Osaka and it was delicious. without realizing it at the time, we were getting a very typical japanese eating experience: line, vending machine order, tiny restaurant, in and out.
at first glance, we were a little nervous not seeing any english on the building’s exterior, but we wound up with english on the machines. it was good to get our feet wet here, because for the rest of the trip we never saw english vending machines again, but knew the drill and could order like a japanese local :)
step 1: get in the queue (there’s always a wait for anything popular in japan)
step 2: select your ramen order specifics
step 3: pay
step 4: hand your order tickets to a staff person
step 5: wait for a seat to open up (as notified by the electronic seating chart in the waiting area)
step 6: file into your cubby hole and wait for your ramen to be passed through a small curtain
final step: devour and enjoy