A Ramen Bar Designed by Its Noodles

What would life be like in a restaurant if the food was in charge? The question crossed the minds of the designers at G Architect Studio for this ramen bar in Tokyo, Japan. Named Chanpon, after the chanpon noodle, the ramen bar has a curious relationship with the noodle that it specialises in.


Chanpon, the noodle, originates from Japan’s large southern island, Kyushu. It is created by mixing leftovers. G Architects Studio embedded this theme in their design process, taking a range of materials and inspiration from the local area to create this cosy atmosphere.

Some of the bar’s key features include its signature hanging lights and exposed wires, its use of fresh green eaves and shades and a light-toned Japanese wood to create brightness in the space. The bar is modelled is purpose fit for its customers, who have a choice of three places to sit: tables for families and friends, stools for solo-diners, and even a Japanese style table on tatami mat for the traditional ramen experience.


We hung out with its lead designer, Ryohei Tanaka, to find out more.

THE PLUS: What’s the neighbourhood like? How does the neighbourhood impact on the design?
Ryohei Tanaka:
The neighbouring shops are quite commercial. We chose natural wood and a shop curtain called “NOREN” for the shop front. The wood and “NOREN” are traditional Japanese materials. So the design contrasts with the commercial signboard of the neighbouring shop to create be an appropriately warm and home-like impression.


TP: Why did you choose turquoise for the eaves and shades?
The site is a popular residential area for families even in Tokyo. And it is near the Komazawa Olympic Park which is the central park in this area. I chose the green material to match the fresh green of the park.

TP: The light tone wood creates brightness and contrast in an otherwise dark, cosy environment. Why did you choose this colour wood?
One customer of the shop is a young family with a child. So we chose the light tone wood with pop green, to create a cheerful atmosphere.

TP: How did you approach the challenge of putting many things in a small space?
Each and every idea in the space is very subtle. My aim was to make the space as comfortable as possible.
TP: How did you choose the colour of the counter tiles?
Counter seats are for one person. I wanted to add playfulness. It was a small idea that only people who eat noodles alone will notice. Also, chanpon soup is milky pig bones soup. I secretly chose a milky colour for the gradation.


TP: G Architects Studio has designed a variety of different interiors before. Were there any particular challenges you found in the process of designing for a catering/food environment?

In the past we have designed interior decoration of houses. This time it was a very narrow restaurant project. We had many problems to be solved because it was a limited space. Naturally, as the owner has to pay the tenant fee, we were required to design with speed.

TP: Do you like eating chanpon ramen?
Of course I love it!


TP: You’ve mentioned that you designed the ramen bar according to chanpon noodles – that they are a made from a mixture of leftovers. Can you expand on that?
The idea of combining mixtures is actually a concept we developed for a residential project. It is our style to gradually develop related ideas across our buildings.

TP: Is the choice of different dining styles a reflection of chanpon style?
We plan to be able to accommodate families. On the other hand, in the case of ramen shop, there are many single customers. Therefore, we needed variation.

TP: Where would you choose to eat ramen – on tatami, at the counter or at the tables?
I like counter seat if I’m alone. However, I like Japanese style, usually.


Site & Plan: