The most recognized dish in the country of the rising sun worldwide is sushi. However, the noodle soup called “ramen” has penetrated the palates of millions of people around the globe, even having its own museum in the city of Yokohama. Get to know the details of this particular museum below.
Ramen is a noodle soup of Chinese origin that entered Japan through the changes that took place from 1858, where the country was forced to end its policy of isolation promulgated by the government or shogunate of the Tokugawa (1603-1868).
The treaty of friendship and commerce, which was the continuation of Kanagawa’s, promoted by the famous American Commodore Matthew Perry, allowed the opening of the ports of Yokohama, Nagasaki, Niigata, Hakodate and Kobe to foreign trade, among other benefits.
The cultural exchange that took place at that time was impressive, and as it could not be otherwise, one of the aspects affected by these changes was the culinary, as for example ended a ban of almost 1200 years to eat meat in Japan. This situation produced the perfect scenario for the arrival of Chinese noodle soup, which would result in what we know today as Japanese ramen.
What is the difference between the two? The soup. Ramen shops use special broths for their dishes. On the other hand, Chinese soup modifies only its ingredients, such as meat and vegetables. This difference gives a variety of options to ramen, which make it very attractive to the consumer.
At the same time, there are differences in the search for what the Japanese call Umami (うま味), which means delicious flavor, which to be achieved demand that cooks thoroughly prepare each ingredient, emphasizing its differential: the broth.
The Ramen Museum is located in the city of Yokohama, in Kanagawa Prefecture, about 25 km from the city of Tokyo, and is easy to locate, as it is near the Shin-yokohama train station, which even has a stop of the Shinkansen (bullet train). The ticket costs 310 yen (something like USD 3) and you can go through all its sectors, which will take us through the history of this wonderful dish.
The first floor gives us a complete screenshot of how the ramen came to the country and the evolution it had in it. From the emergence of different types of broths, to the creation of the famous instant ramen. Today this type of ramen is recognized worldwide, and for many Japanese, is part of the weekly diet or even daily. You can even buy different products to prepare homemade ramen and even books by great masters of this dish.
But the interesting part of the museum begins in the subsoil, divided into two floors, because when you go down it is as if you were introduced in a time machine and transported to the year 1958. Here visitors come across corridors and images worthy of a film, such as advertisements for the films of Toshiro Mifune (the first great Japanese actor to be recognized in Hollywood) or photos of Godzilla in his early days as a mythical character in Japanese cinema.
Shops selling vintage items such as sweets, children’s games, albums of figurines and dolls are other attractions in this sector.
However, where they all go is to the various ramen restaurants found throughout the establishment. You can enjoy dishes from Okinawa, Hokkaido, Tokyo and even from the north of Kyushu Island, having the chance to taste ramen from Miso, shoyu and tonkatsu, among others.
But the dishes are usually very abundant. So the question that always comes up to visitors is how they will try everything. The answer is that most of the places inside the museum allow the purchase of smaller portions, to have the possibility of actually doing a gastronomic tour.
Another trick commented by the Japanese who come regularly to taste ramen is not to finish all the broth of the variant that is requested. The reason is that the soup can satisfy the client, and this takes away the possibility of trying all the options that the different styles of cuisine exposed can offer.
The year 1958 was when Momofuku Ando, the founder of Nissin Foods Holdings, invented the world’s first instant ramen, which tasted like chicken. Legend has it that after the end of World War II, Ando saw a large line of people in the middle of winter waiting to receive a hot ramen on the black market near Umeda Station in Osaka City.
This scene strongly moved Mr. Ando, who believed that he should develop a simple and fast cooking dish that would be easily accessible to the bulk of the population.
This Chicken ramen also popularized the name of this Japanese noodle soup, as some places still called it Chinese broth. Momofuku Ando, in turn, was in 1971 the creator of Cup Noodles, a brand that today sells 100 billion units a year. Please visit ราเมง in Bkk at yuzuramenthailand.com/th/ for more info.