On Being Single in Seoul and Wanting Noodles at 1am
A few days ago, at 1am, I suddenly found myself with severe cravings for Japanese style ramen. I tried to suppress them, but failed miserably, and thus I found myself walking the streets around Sinchon station in an attempt to find a place that could satisfy my cravings while the icy wind threatened with hypothermia. Luckily after some wandering I managed to find a small place, Ichi Men, which happened to specialize in Japanese ramen. Naturally I was thrilled and as I entered I couldn’t wait to dig into a steaming bowl of deliciousness. However, it turned out that the main attraction that evening wasn’t the food, despite it being the reason why I braved the cold and dark in the first place, but the concept of Ichi Men. You see, what is special about the place is that it accommodates single people’s need for ramen from around lunchtime to 2am by allowing them to walk in, order their food, and then letting them eat their food in small booths shielded from world by curtains and walls.Now being single in Seoul can be difficult, as everything here caters towards couples, and it’s difficult not to get bothered to the brink of insanity slightly annoyed by it in the long run when you’re going single and for the most part alone in this city. While there’s no one stopping you from going out to eat alone it can be a bit difficult, especially because many restaurants will only serve certain dishes for two people or more. Even if you can order just one serving of the food you want, sitting all alone at your table while being surrounded by couples being too in love to focus on their food and groups of people having a blast can be a bit depressing at times. Being in such a situation can you imagine the surprise and joy I felt when I that cold night walked through the door of Ichi Men, the only open ramen place within a reasonable distance from where I live that happened to be open, only to find that this place was meant especially for (maybe slightly bitter) lonely and/or single people like myself.The place is small, and so is the menu, yet it took some time for me to order, as the menu was all in Korean and with no pictures for guidance, which meant that I had to read through and understand the menu in Korean. As I eventually figured out the most expensive option, which is at the top left corner of the menu, is the order for the ramen itself, and everything below that are different add ins. The food is good and the price is most reasonable, 6500w for a bowl of steaming ramen in a nice broth topped with bean sprouts and seafood with a side of pickled radish and rice. The rich, yet light and salty broth complimented the noodles well, and must have given the seafood a feeling of having returned to their proper element.
It was a very interesting experience knowing that people were sitting on both sides of me eating their food without being able to see them. Save the occasional slurps from the booth besides mine, and the soft music playing the place was very quiet, and there was something very relaxing about knowing that no one could see you eating, as well as knowing that you wouldn’t have to watch couples feeding each other and being all lovey dovey, which could potentially cause you to choke on your food.As such I think Ichi Men is a wonderful place for singles and lonely people in general. You feel welcomed and accepted in a way that you wouldn’t eating in normal restaurants, and the food was good too, so it’s a win win situation. Even if you don’t care that much for ramen I would say it’s worth going even just to get the experience. Now if you want to try out the place despite having a significant other tagging along fear not, there’s also couple seating, and as a pending, bitter, old, cat lady let me tell you, I don’t mind if you come to this special place dedicated to my species. I’ll just lover my curtain and slurp my noodles in solitude.