Review: Shin-Yokohama Raumen Museum (Yokohama, Japan)

2-14-21 Shin-Yokohama
Kohoku-Ku, Yokohama 222-0033
Kanagawa Prefecture
Japan
+81 45 471 0503
http://www.raumen.co.jp/english/

If you love ramen as much as everyone in the Australia loves Tim Ho Wan right now, then you’d have to be silly not to visit Yokohama’s ramen museum if you’re ever in Japan. (btw, I’m still not sure why they spell ramen with a ‘u’ in it)

Founded in 1994, it was touted as the world’s first food-themed amusement park though it’s more of a food court boasting nine different ramen stalls, a ramen stall and a small museum section for all you noodle-slurping history buffs out there – unfortunately though, the museum section is entirely in Japanese.

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The ramen stalls, all offering different kinds of ramen from Japan’s many regions, are enclosed in late 1958-style Japanese streetscape replication. And why 1958? It was the year the instant ramen was invented, naturally.

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The museum’s shop has some pretty cool souvenirs, perfect for those who with foodie friends. You can get all manners of bowls, utensils and chopsticks as well as 10 billion kinds of instant ramen.

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Their DIY ramen kit is pretty pimpin’ too.

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‘though I wasn’t keen on buying one because hmm, dehydrated vegies.

What I was down for, however, was some piping hot bowls of ramen. Or rather, half bowls. I love how you can order regular sized bowls at each stall, or half bowls if you just want a taste at approximately AUD$5 each (thus, leaving more room in your stomach for more).

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My first bowl of ramen was from Zweite Ramen, a German-Japanese collaboration. I shall refrain from making WWII jokes here as some uber sensitive people on my friends list got upset after I did so when I posted this photo up on Facebook. Anyway, they’re a project from Muku Zweite, a popular Frankfurt ramen restaurant.

Tonkotsu ramen from Zweite Ramen
Tonkotsu ramen from Zweite Ramen

The Zweite Ramen stall is only at the museum temporarily so get in before you miss out. That is, if you’d like to try some soy infused tonkotsu broth with hints of sauerkraut in it and chashu that tastes and feels more like bacon. What, sauerkraut in ramen? Damn right. It’s weird but it works – the acidity cut through the rich broth beautifully. As for the ramen, they used durum flour so the noodles were denser and springier – very much like pasta. I loved this Eurasian hottie.

‘Pho ramen’ from Narumi-Ippudo
‘Pho ramen’ from Narumi-Ippudo

You’d have to be insane in the membrane (and also a genius) to come up with the idea of combining two of my favourite noodle soup dishes into one single dish: a pho/ramen hybrid. The broth was created by Ippudo chef Shigemi Kawahara and is a light yet flavoursome mix of French bouillon and dashi stock, kind of like a consommé. The ramen noodles were made out of baguette breadcrumbs that gave them a firm yet springy texture. Oh my word, easily one of the most interesting things I ate in Japan.

Traditional tonkotsu ramen from Najima-tei
Traditional tonkotsu ramen from Najima-tei

My last bowl was a simple tonkotsu ramen from Najima-tei, a Hakata institution since 1987. I figured that if I can’t go to Kyushu on this trip, I’d do the next best thing by ordering its speciality ramen from the ramen museum. The broth was perhaps only slightly heavier than the pho-ramen one above, but it was still milky and rich enough for me to call it quits for the night.

As much as I wanted to try more ramen, my stomach gave up at this point so I had no choice but to reluctantly end my night at the ramen museum.

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