On my last day in Japan I went to Raumen Museum www.raumen.co.jp
This ‘museum’, dedicated to my favourite noodle soup, opened just a few weeks before I went home to the UK back in 1996, but I was always too busy to go there. It’s located in Shin-Yokohama, which for two years was one of the train stops on my way to and from work, so you can imagine my frustration at passing it twice a day and not being able to go. I finally managed to tick it off my bucket list in 2016 when it was celebrating its 20th anniversary.
My Google map is here.
Calling it a museum is a bit of a stretch, although in the museum shop there are a couple of displays about the international spread of ramen and the methods and utensils used for making it.
I’d describe it as being more of a themed food court with eight ramen shops selling different styles of ramen on floors B1 and B2. There’s also a bar and a couple of other shops, one selling nostalgic sweets and chocolate bars.
The lower floors have been designed to look like city streets from 1958 (the year the instant noodle was invented) and they do quite a good job of it.
There’s lots of period paraphernalia dotted about.
My sole reason for being here was to eat, but with eight shops to choose from, I faced a conundrum. Fortunately all the shops sell half bowls so it was possible to try a few. The ramen shops can be divided into four styles; Tonkotsu, which involves a pork stock based soup, Miso, which employs bean paste, Shoyu/Salt with soya sauce or salt, and International with versions of ramen from Italy and Germany. I resolved to try one from each group but only managed the first three, probably because I also had a regional beer from each shop, and some giant-sized gyoza dumplings at the last one.
Each shop has a vending machine outside where you choose and pay for what you want. The buttons have helpful pictures for each menu item but this isn’t always the case everywhere and it can be hard to know what you’re going to get.
This historic ramen shop was founded in Kumamoto, Kyushu in 1954. The light stock is a blend of chicken bone and vegetable broth with a tonkotsu (pork bone) base. The soup uses their own specially-flavored oil, and roasted garlic chips are scattered over the top.
I enjoyed the broth (B+) but the noodles were a bit too soft for me (B). The garlic really helped the overall good flavour.
Kirin Beer is okay but not particularly exciting (B).
Sumire – this location now closed?
Sumire is one of Sapporo’s most popular ramen shops. This rich, heavy miso soup has a distinct ginger flavour and a fresh aftertaste. Rather than roast pork it uses pork mince which helps the flavours spread. I enjoyed the broth (B+) and the noodles (B+).
The Sapporo ‘Classic’ Beer was a new one on me (B).
Genkotsu’s stock includes pork bone, chicken bone, fatty cuts of tuna and konbu (kelp). It’s shoyu style which means a flavouring sauce containing soya sauce and salt is mixed in. I enjoyed the broth (B+) and the noodles (B+).
Their jumbo gyoza are unique (B+).
Asahi ‘Premium’ Beer is great (A).
Your entrance ticket will allow you to return to the museum in the same day, so technically it would be possible to have lunch, go and do something else, and then come back for dinner. That something else could be a trip to the Cup Noodle Museum www.cupnoodles-museum.jp, also located in Yokohama, but I’d left it a bit late in the day to squeeze it in as it closes at 16.30. Here’s another blog that reviews it though.
And that my friends is my last post of sixteen on Tokyo and Yokohama. Back home to Blighty for a while now.