Ichiran Ramen, the famous Japanese tonkotsu ramen brand hailing from Fukuoka, wants to expand its presence in Thailand after opening its first pop-up store in Bangkok last weekend.
Chanchai Asawakarn, managing director of V2V Co, the authorised importer and marketer of Ichiran Ramen in Thailand since 2020, said the brand’s noodles have mainly been available in boxes from supermarket chains such as Gourmet Market, Tops and Fuji, as well as online.
After selling 100 packs of ramen per month in its first year of operations, sales have since increased to 1,200 packs per month.
“Recognition of the brand among Thais has been exceptional. Nine out of 10 Thai visitors to Japan make a point of visiting the Ichiran Ramen restaurant there,” said Mr Chanchai.
“Building on this success, we’ve decided to inaugurate the first Ichiran Ramen outlet at the Nippon market zone on the third floor of CentralWorld between Nov 11-26 this year.”
The outlet will sell a single item priced at 290 baht.
Takayuki Himori, director of strategic innovation and advisory for merchandise at Ichiran Inc, said during a recent visit to Bangkok that the pop-up store represents a strategic move aimed at assessing market opportunities for further expansion in Thailand.
The company has already opened similar pop-up stores to test the market in Indonesia and Malaysia, he said.
Having built a legacy covering over 60 years in the Japanese city of Fukuoka, Ichiran Ramen set out on its international journey a decade ago. The company operates two restaurants in the US, three outlets in Taiwan, along with three outlets in Hong Kong.
Already boasting a huge number of Japanese eateries, Ichiran joins other newcomers in Thailand such as Shiori Udon Ginza, which opened for business on the second floor of Siam Center last October.
According to the Japanese External Trade Organization, Thailand had 5,325 Japanese restaurants in 2022.
Of the total, 2,394 restaurants were based in Bangkok, while the other 2,931 establishments were operating in up-country locations.
Establishments selling ramen and izakaya posted the highest rate of growth in 2022, contributing to Thailand’s ramen industry which is estimated to be worth over 3 billion baht.
Hachiban Ramen is the market leader at present with more than 100 branches.