“Eat ramen here.” It’s the kind of illuminated sign you might expect to see outside a restaurant in central London or New York. To find it over the door of a one-counter noodle joint on an old-fashioned shopping arcade in the western suburbs of Tokyo is, however, little short of bizarre.

No run-of-the-mill eatery in Japan would advertise its presence in English like this. But that’s exactly the point: Ivan Ramen is far from ordinary. People come — many from far afield — because the noodles are superior and the recipes innovative. And, yes, because this is the only ramen shop in the country that is owned and operated by a foreigner.

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