Expect traditional games and plenty of tonkotsu ramen.

By Bridget Hallinan
June 28, 2019
Greg Rhein Photography

New York City has a wealth of good ramen joints, and among them is Ichiran—famed for its tonkotsu ramen, served to diners in “flavor concentration booths” that minimize human contact and encourage guests to focus on the bowl in front of them. The chain, which first landed in New York with a Brooklyn outpost, has since expanded to Midtown and most recently, Times Square. The latter is two-stories, the largest Ichiran in the city yet—and if you still need to visit, there’s even more incentive to go this summer. Enter Ichiran’s second annual Natsu Matsuri, a summer festival the restaurant will host from July 3rd to July 21 across their New York locations. In other words, expect plenty of thick, porky ramen with fiery red pepper sauce, plus special games, photo opps, and themed décor.

“Summers in Japan were always about wearing a yukata (summer kimono), watching fireworks and eating the street food at various festivals for me while studying in Japan. I think many Japanese people would agree with me, so the ICHIRAN team wanted to share this experience with our guests here at New York City,” Annie Chen, the restaurant’s assistant operations manager, said in a statement. “This is our second year holding the ICHIRAN Natsu Matsuri (Summer Festival), and it is a way for us to create a cultural, fun dining experience that goes beyond just eating great tonkotsu (pork bone broth) ramen. We want to make the entire dining experience fun with games and cultural activities so a visit to ICHIRAN is more than just another meal at a ramen restaurant.”

A scene from last year's festival.
Courtesy of Ichiran

Each New York Ichiran location will feature décor inspired by the Summer Festival and Tanabata Star Festival that take place in Japan every year, according to the announcement. The Tanabata festival dates back over 2,000 years, and pays homage to two star-crossed lovers—“a weaver princess named Orihime and a cow herder prince named Hikoboshi”—who can only see each other once a year on the seventh day of the seventh month. As a nod to this festival, guests at the Brooklyn and Times Square Ichiran locations will have the opportunity to write their wishes on tanzaku paper between July 5 and July 7, when the festival takes place in Japan. The Brooklyn and Times Square locations will also feature a Gachapon (toy vending machine) starting mid-July, where diners can use tokens (one per person) to win number of prizes—including a ramen donburi bowl, Ichiran mug cups, and vending toys. If you ask us, we’d go for the Kae-Dama, which are tickets to refill your noodles.

The Brooklyn location exclusively will feature traditional games during the entirety of the festival, meant to entertain diners while they wait for their seats—plus, a photo area, in case you want to ‘gram your ramen. As an added bonus, kids get a (half-sized) bowl of ramen for free starting July 5 at the Times Square location. The deal, part of the Tanabata Star Festival celebration, is available for children eight and under, and limited to one ramen per child. 

Other New York City news: 

Advertisement