Andrew’s world in Japan

Andrew Artist & researcher based in KL since 2009, passionately exploring the creative process &connecting with other creative people.

Ramen Is A Form Of Amusement

andrew

I’ve got 99 problems but a bowl of noodles ain’t one. For many a die hard foodie, the fulfi llment of a dream is to visit a coveted food’s country of origin. Just touching down and visiting a ramen shop is enough for many. When I learned of the potential existence of a ramen museum, excitement rose to a whole new meaning. As my salivary glands hyperventilated, I arranged for a visit to this place that could just possibly be heaven. Housed in Yokohama, just a short walk from JR Shin Yokohama station resides ‘Shitamachi,’ affectionately referred to as the Ramusement Park. For the love of ramen, the people fl ock south of Tokyo to Yokohama, and this day I joined them. Entry runs you ¥300, and be prepared with cash to spend roughly ¥3000 per person. My goal was to taste every different regional style of ramen available. Honestly, beyond an impossible feat for me. I might be one of the slowest eaters on this planet if not the galaxy. So I swallowed my disappointment of their only offering normal size portions and set to enjoy what I could put away. Choosing which one I’d sample required some serious thought. Luckily, things change, and the word on the street now is that half portions are available. With eight different regional varieties to sample, this is a great thing. Stepping foot inside, almost immediately transports you to the classic 1950’s pre-rapid industrial boom city times. Looking upwards reveals a beautifully painted summer sky covering the ceiling. Wonderful fragrances of noodles and ramen broth’s underline the ambiance. Moving through the fi rst fl oor you can explore elaborately detailed exhibits revolving around what else, ramen. Interested in ceramics? Over 300 historic bowls dedicated to serving only this prized noodle dish originating from China are on display. What about textiles? Check out the extensive collection of aprons and ramen shop noren curtains. There’s even displays sharing the creation of instant noodles as well as the various unique regional methods applied to their fl avors. A crowd pleaser is the replica of the fi rst ramen dish ever consumed by the 17th century samurai Mito Komon. If you were starving and couldn’t be bothered to look over all these triviandrew2a bits, no one is keeping you from jumping straight from history to current day. My struggle continues, which option to try fi rst. The eight choices hail from Sapporo, Hakata, Kumamoto, Kitakata, and 4 legendary shops from Tokyo/Yokohama. Miso being a personal favorite helps me decide to sample Sapporo’s fi rst. Waiting for a spot inside each section can take a grueling 20 minutes. Most have only a handful of tables. The shops hailing from Kyushu, Hakata and Kumamoto have broths based on slow cooking pork and chicken bones extracting those savory molecules of deliciousness. Those from the Tokyo/Yokohama region are all soy based. Any small pocket of space left in your stomach can be fi lled with goodies like cotton candy, old fashioned pastries and washed down with award winning regional varieties of sake. On your way out, dazed and in a food coma, indulge your inner child with nostalgic Japanese trinkets, candies and costumes harking back to the 1950’s. Ramen dreams forever.

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