Japanese noodle lovers are divided over the new phenomenon.

From vending machines to Michelin-starred restaurants, Japan’s love of ramen noodles spreads far and wide throughout the country. So when an image of a new noodle eatery appeared on the Internet, ramen aficionados were quick to sit up and take notice. But it wasn’t what was on the menu that caught their attention, it was the unusual place where noodles were being served that sparked discussion online.

Popular noodle chain Tenkaippin had opened up a restaurant at a former gas station, and according to the person who photographed it, Twitter user @go_jerrodmustaf, the setup looked “totally weird”.

The gas station structure had all its petrol pumps removed and it was now decorated with the distinctive logo of the Kyoto-based ramen chain, with boards once used to advertise petrol prices now enticing customers with images of tasty noodle bowls instead.

After the image was posted on Twitter, other strange ramen stores also began appearing online, including another branch of Tenkaippin, set up in a former gas station at Tachibanacho in Hyogo Prefecture.

Hokkaido-based ramen chain Sanpachi was also pictured with a similar setup.

According to this Twitter user, a large number of shops in “Chibaragi” (Chiba and Ibaraki Prefectures) use former gas stations for their businesses, including this barber and boulangerie.

Baskin Robbins, known in Japan as “31”, has also set up shop on a similar site.

Despite the proliferation of businesses operating in former gas stations, when it comes to ramen, foodies were divided on the issue.

“It’s a good way to save money on demolition costs if you just use the old structure.”
“It’s great for shaded parking, even for large-sized vehicles.”
“I don’t known about filling up on ‘ramen fuel’ at a ‘ramen station’. Won’t it stink?”
“I can’t help thinking they’ll serve up oily, greasy ramen.”
“Can you get a full tank of ramen here?”

While gas stations are usually a good place to pick up newspapers and snacks in a number of countries, in Japan, they’re solely reserved for filling up petrol and washing and servicing cars, so the thought of purchasing any type of food at a gas station is totally foreign to most people. Still, with so many businesses choosing to ‘recycle’ the distinctive structures, we’re sure this new ramen shop trend won’t be stopping anytime soon!

Source: Buzzmag
Top Image: Twitter/@go_jerrodmustaf