As popular as sushi or tempura, Japan is known for another dish that is usually consumed as manufactured instant noodles- Ramen. Though there is still an on-going debate as to whether this stomach-calming food is of Chinese or Japanese origin, one thing for sure- your taste bud can spot the huge difference between the one you can buy at the grocery against the one freshly served in a huge bowl.
To fully experience the Ramen culture, it is recommended for anyone to pay a visit to Shin-Yokohama Ramen Museum. It’s a two-story building which will give you the 101 on the origin of Japanese noodles and a one stop-shop to taste variety of ramen representing different parts of Japan (example: a ramen from Kanagawa is usually shoyu (soy) based soup while the one from Hokkaido is miso based). For an entrance fee of 300 yen only, you will be taken back to the good old year of Showa 33 (1958), the year which ramen was invented. Its nostalgic settings (hand painted movie billboards, cat noise in the alleyways, black and white tv set) will make you develop an appetite to taste as many as you can.
- Go to the shop which you like based on the pamphlet given at the entrance and proceed to the vending machine located outside.
- Choose the ramen picture you like best on the machine and decide if you want to go for the full size (800-900 yen) or the sampler size (500 yen). Most tourist go for the sampler size so that they can taste variety of ramen.
- Once you have the ticket, go inside the restaurant and give your ticket to the staff. Just sit, wait and relax- a hot bowl of delicious ramen is on your way.
I ordered a soy-based ramen on sampler size thinking that I could hop to the next restaurant and taste a tonkatsu one, but a sampler size is still huge for my stomach. I consider myself as the slowest and sloppiest ramen eater compare to the Japanese whom when served takes only about 5 minutes or so to finish a huge bowl. Seems like their tongue has developed an immunity with the hot soup while I am acting like a total diva blowing it to make it colder.
It is acceptable to slurp the soup directly from its bowl. So forget about your so-called “manners” and do as the Japanese do. If you want to be on the cover of an instant noodles, head to the photo booth for some souvenirs.