Monday, February 12, 2018

Shinyokohama Ramen Museum, Yokohoma

I super love ramen and everytime I go to Japan, one of my must visit places for ramen was of course Ichiran Ramen, found in many cities in Japan except Hokkaido and Okinawa (whyyyyy?).
Anyhow, this post isn't about Ichiran Ramen but rather an unique place that all ramen lovers should visit at least once when in Tokyo and that is the Shinyokohama Ramen Museum (spelled Raumen on their site)

On a whim after an impromptu long run in the morning, I decided to board the train from my hostel in Ueno to visit the museum in time for dinner. And since it was in Yokohama, a part of Japan I have yet to visit, I thought to drop by the famous Chinatown as well. Spoiler alert: it's not that great especially if you come from a country with a Chinatown in every corner, town, city and state. But if you're curious or craving for Chinese food (and don't mind paying the exuberant prices for Chinese food) then go ahead.

When my stomach started up its familiar grumble for food, I hightailed it to Shinyokohama Ramen Museum, a short five minutes walk from the train station and paid the 310 yen entrance fee. They have a ticketing booth or if you are like me and prefer dealing with machines, they also have ticketing machine where you just need to feed it the money and get your ticket.

My ticket with a hella cute cat picture on it was scanned at the entrance and I entered to come face to face with a wall of ramen magazines and books. Seeing as I do not have an Instagram boyfriend, I strolled past this section and wandered into the exhibition area detailing the history of ramen, ie how the Japanese stole the noodle recipe from the Chinese and made it their national comfort dish (just joking, please don't fight!) The same floor also boasted a museum shop with instant ramen and ramen kitchenware to purchase and a strangely out of place IRIS slot car race track. 

Once I was educated on the wonders of my favourite food, I headed down to the basement, coming across the wall of honour - a wall that featured the bowls of previous and current ramen tenants of the museum since its opening in March 1994.

Then in B1 and B2- the basement floors, it was as though I had been transported through time to Japan in 1958, the year that the world's first instant ramen was invented.

It was pretty cool especially when you can wander about the old alleys of B1 where three of the nine ramen restaurants are located alongside a Dagashi-ya which is an old fashioned sweet top selling all sorts of old games and sweets from the pre-ipad and game boy era. If I had an Instagram Boyfriend, I would be posing at every crook and corner of that floor.

Moving on to the lower level of B2, it was like a courtyard of six ramen restaurants, each with a vending machine system in place. I heard on some days (probably the weekends and for lunch hour), some of these restaurants have queues going up to an hour but luckily for me, there was none when I was there and picked out two ramen places to try. Not all but some of the ramen shops offer a mini  ramen version for small eaters like me, priced at a decent 570 yen each and I immediately went for the mini sizes at Muku Zeite from Germany and Okinawa's own Ryukyu Shinmen Toudou.

Mind you, the place was not a food court where you can order from different stalls and combine it all at once. You are required to restaurant hop to try different ramen and each adult must order a bowl of ramen, be it big or small size. Which means no sharing of one bowl or can your friends come in to just sit and watch you eat. Which worked just fine for solo wanderer me.

Between the two, I preferred the richer tonkotsu taste of Muku Zeite in comparison to the light soy flavour of Ryukyu Shinmen Tondou. The chashu in Muku Zeite's ramen was on the sweeter end as well which didn't sit well with the robust flavour of its soup. Nevertheless, I slurped up both ramen bowls and still found myself wanting a bowl of Ichiran ramen at the end of it. 

I shall not go into detail about the individual stores as the ramen tenants changes periodically so I would suggest when you're there, pick your ramen based on your preference of soup and noodle types. If you're a small eater but want to try more, you can go there around lunch time, have a go at two or three bowls, leave and come back again in the evening. Yes, re-entry is allowed within that same day!

Entry to the museum is 310 yen while a normal size and mini size bowl of ramen are priced from 900 - 1000 yen and 500 - 570 yen respectively. Shinyokohama Ramen Museum is a 40 - 50 minutes train ride from Tokyo. The museum opens everyday, from 11am to 930pm, with last orders at 9pm. 

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