Yokohama is a good place for a day trip if you’re visiting Tokyo. We had activated our JR Pass so it was only about a 30 minute ride on the bullet train or less. We didn’t have a lot planned for our day in Yokohama besides visiting Yokohama Chinatown, Osanbashi Pier, Cosmo World and the Shin-Yokohama Ramen Museum. The ramen museum is just a short 10 minute walk from Shin-Yokohama station. We were surprised that admission was only 310 yen which is about $3.50 CAD. I noticed they even offer an annual pass for people who want to visit often! The Shin-Yokohama Ramen Museum was opened in 1994 and is the world’s first food-themed museum.
The ramen museum features specialty ramen from 9 different regions in Japan. Once you buy your ticket and go in, you will be in a lobby area with a small gift shop and slot car racing for kids. This is also where you can learn about the origins of ramen through some large poster panels on the wall. At first I wasn’t very impressed because there wasn’t much on this floor but the ramen eating area is actually located downstairs. You can get a glimpse of the waiting times for the various ramen restaurants from a TV screen in the lobby.
Upon entry to the museum you can get one of these brochures which explains the different types of ramen restaurants featured there.
The ramen area is themed like 1960’s Japan which was really cool and it feels like you’ve gone back in time. They’ve put a lot of effort into the decor! We went in the late afternoon so it wasn’t too busy. Some of the more popular restaurants had short line ups of 5-10 minutes. Each restaurant has a vending machine outside where you order first and then you go in and give your order ticket to the staff there. The brochure advertised that they served “mini-sized portions” of ramen but we only saw that they had half-sized portions at the restaurant we picked. I think the half-sized portion was about $7 vs. about $10 for a full sized portion. It was very reasonably priced considering this was a museum. If this was somewhere in America the prices would probably be about 30% more than regular street prices.
We were hungry and didn’t want to wait so we chose Ryukyo Shinmen Tondou. According to the brochure, this was where the ramen boom in Okinawa occurred. We felt fairly confident that whatever place we picked would be good anyway.
Not sure what exactly I ordered but I know it was some sort of Black Garlic Ramen.
I actually didn’t enjoy this as much as I thought I would because it felt like it had a strong burnt taste to it. The noodles were good though. Considering it was a half-sized portion it was still pretty substantial for me so if you don’t eat a lot it would be difficult to try more than one place. Also everyone must order ramen at the restaurant so you can’t share or just go and sit with your friends while they eat.
My friend ordered a Tonkotsu Ramen which I enjoyed a lot more due to the creamier and thicker broth. She also added some extra chilli oil to it.
Lastly, we were lucky enough to join in on the last Three Minute Tasting of the day at 5pm. A staff member did a quick overview of the origins of menma which is a type of bamboo shoot. At the end of the presentation, we were presented with a small sample of menma and also regular bamboo shoots so that we can compare the flavours.
Since the admission price for Shin-Yokohama Ramen Museum was so cheap I felt like the visit was worth it. Even though I had intended on trying more ramen, it was a nice place to spend an hour or two. I also learned that ramen originated from China and another fun fact is that eating meat was banned in Japan for over 1000 years and the ban was only lifted in the late 1800’s. If I go to Osaka next time, I’d like to visit the cup noodle museum next!