Located in the hidden village of Konoha, the shop has made numerous appearances in the manga throughout the series, and was prominently featured on the volume 16 cover. Thus, it’s probably not surprising that many of the manga’s readers would already be familiar with the shop. What's surprising, though, is that rather than simply being a figment of the author’s imagination, a real noodle shop served as inspiration for Naruto’s Ichiraku Ramen.
The shop that was the model for the one in Naruto was located near Fukuoka’s Kyuusandai-mae Station. Author Kishimoto Masashi has said that he commuted to Kyuusandai during his school days, and it seems that this might be why the area plays a role in the manga. Unfortunately, Ichiraku's Kyuusandai-mae store closed in 2014. If the store isn’t open anymore, though, just how are you supposed to get a taste of that ramen?
By going to a different location, of course! Despite the fact that the original Ramen Ichiraku that inspired Kishimoto is no longer around, there are other branches in Fukuoka. One of these is the Shime branch near Fukuoka Airport.
Upon arrival at the shop, we saw people standing in line outside waiting for it to open. We joined the queue and eventually were able to make our way inside. Initially, we went back and forth trying to figure out what kind of ramen to order, but once we recalled that Naruto’s favorite flavor was miso, the choice became obvious: it had to be the Miso Chashu Pork Ramen for ¥850 (about US $8.48).
The Miso Chashu Pork ramen was served in a bowl not unlike that of a mortar and pestle. Riding atop the noodles was a bounty of bean sprouts, green onions and chashu pork.
We began with a sip of the broth—and it was amazing! The soup was mild but still packed quite a punch. A bite of pork here, a nibble of plump noodles there made for a substantial meal. The flavor was such that you couldn’t help but to keep asking for more.
You don’t have to be a Naruto fan to enjoy the grub at this noodle shop, or even a ramen fan. There’s definitely something delicious for everyone!
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