Could Japan’s ‘Flavour Concentration Booths’ Be a Thing When Restaurants Reopen?

Screenshot of Ichiran from Best Ramen in Tokyo (YouTube)

There’s a lot of talk and reports going around about what safety/health measures might need to be in place for restaurants and bars to reopen. We’re hearing and reading plenty about staff wearing masks and gloves, intensified cleaning protocols, creating more space between guests and using plexiglass as a means of separation. The whole idea of restaurant ‘ambience’ is about to be turned on its head, so how do operators turn atmospheric negatives into appealing positives? I’m wondering if some will go the way of the so-called ‘flavour concentration booths‘ at Japan’s Ichiran chain of ramen restaurants. You might recall I briefly wrote about them a few years ago. They are “side-shielded, single-seat cubicles with curtains” separating guests from staff. “This means one can start and finish an entire meal without ever seeing another person.” It’s pretty antisocial, but I could get down with this kind of peekaboo if it means I can have a hot bowl of ramen sooner rather than later!

Here’s a video refresher of the concept I’m talking about:

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