Whew, today was a pretty good example of just a little bit too much of a good thing! Jordon and I trekked out to Shin-Yokohama with two of his friends to go to the ramen museum. It was pretty oishii! The museum itself is pretty limited, and largely in Japanese, so we didn't see that part very much (just a tiny bit at the end), but the downstairs two levels are great - themed like the city streets in 1958, they hold eight ramen shops (plus a bar, standing bar, and bakery) representing different types of ramen from around the country. We tried four different kinds of ramen! Luckily, they had 'mini' bowls, which weren't exactly small, but meant that we managed to make it through. (I don't think I want to see noodles for at least a day or two though!) The first kind of ramen we had was from Tokyo and called Harukiya.
(the kind of taupe colored things in the bottom left part of the bowl are bamboo shoots, which I've never had before, they were good - kind of crispy and chewy at the same time, and didn't have a really strong tast of any kind, but I liked them)
It was really good! I think it was my favourite! It is a handmade, hand-kneaded noodle in soy sauce flavoured fish broth. According to the guidebook "The bowl looks simple, but when you sip at the soup, you feel multiple levels of complex flavor and richness combined with fish aroma excite your brain. You would not come to yourself until you finish the whole bowl." It was indeed exciting!
Next, we headed to get some Komurasaki, which was quite good, but not as flavorful. It is from Kyushu, and includes garlic chips (which I think Kazumasa san said were fried in horse oil, after we ate it!! I'm not 100% sure though!), and a mild broth based on pork bones blended with chicken bones. It smelled really good, but didn't quite live up to the tastes of the first ramen we tried.
After that, we took a bit of a ramen break, and wandered around the two stories of the 'town', unfortunately, it was next to impossible to get pictures! It is really low lighting, so Peter's little camera was having a hell of a time trying to sort itself out, and I couldn't get it out of a really slow exposure, which wasn't helping things at all!)
We also got stopped by a entertaininly heavily made up policeman, who was incredibly friendly, and let Jordon take some pictures with him (and his gun). Then, randomly, he whipped out two hula hoops and the two of them had a competition. After that, I had a hula competition with the cop (I think we tied). It was random, because somehow the cop had it in his head that Jordon's name was Danielle, so then when he asked me my name I was like 'uhhhh Jordon!'.
We went upstairs, and went into the old style candy shop, where I got some thin wafers where you put tonkatsu (pork cutlet) style sauce in the middle. Very weird, but not too bad. Everyone else got these little tubs of super vinegary (but slight sweet) liquid in which two Japanese style plums were encased. I tried a little bit of Jordon's and it was intense! Verrry vinegary! An acquired taste to be sure! (Can't you just see the love on their faces?)
We also had some sugar coated fried dough (basically donuts) which were good, but in retrospect, maybe a little bit extraneous, because after a quick visit to the game room (old spinning tops, juggling, ring toss, etc), it was on to part two of the ramen excursion. I tried to give our third shop, the spicy Ryushanhai a miss to save room for our fourth bowl, but they said everyone in the shops had to eat, so I had to be a 'trooper' And get some of the ramen from the Tohoku Region. It is a miso based soup, with fish and shell fish flavouring, and a big ball of spicy miso paste in the middle that you can dissolve at will. It has "a firm yet bouncy textured noodle well worth mentioning". Actually, the noodles were really good, but I don't think this was anyone's favourite. Kind of a weird combi, with the spicy aspect and all.
Since we couldn't leave it at a low note like that, we dragged ourselves across the courtyard to get some Fukuchan from Hakata. This one was really good as well, it was too bad we were all so collectively full after that! This one was interesting, because they had 'add it yourself' garlic on the table, you could add garlic chips and also press whole fresh cloves of garlic into your soup, which was did, and was tres oishii! It smelled sooo good as well, I love garlic!
I'll end with some general shots of the museum, it is pretty well themed in the food amusement park part - they also had audience participation stuff like a 'rock, paper, scissors' tournament, and performances of the oldest types of Japanese manga, where a guy stands by a little stage and tells the story as he shows various still images (paintings) of what is going on in the story. Each of the ramen shops was also decorated differently (to show the different areas maybe?) Though all of them used the super simple and convenient ticket vending machines. They have a really good English guidebook, which isn't always the case with places like this and we learned that there are over 200 000 ramen shops in Japan; wow!
It's too bad its so far from here, or we could get memberships to let us get in and out on an unlimited basis (otherwise, its a Y300 entrance fee for the museum and stuff before you can get down to the ramen shops), but it was a tasty field trip! Next: icecream town or Sweets Forest!
gotta love food amusement parks!