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Museums put ramen on a culinary pedestal

China Daily | Updated: 2015-03-30 08:07

Museums put ramen on a culinary pedestal

A bowl of miso ramen soup at the Shin-Yokohama Raumen Museum in Yokohama.[Photo/Agencies]

The ramen shops are located in a two-story re-creation of a romantically shabby 1958 city shopping district, eternally bathed in twilight. There are also movie posters and shop facades for a post office and pawnshop, along with a real store selling old-fashioned candy and toys. It's a period that evokes nostalgia for the Japanese.

In the gift shop, you can assemble a customized package of ramen to take home, choosing from different kinds of vacuum-packed fresh noodles, soup flavor and flavored oil, with a personalized label. The shop also sells prepackaged ramen, bowls, spoons and other souvenirs.

Then, if you're weary of foodie seriousness about what is, after all, simple noodle soup, the antidote is just a short train or subway ride away: Yokohama also has a branch of the Cup Noodle Museum.

Where Shin-Yokohama Raumen Museum is a food theme park for adults, Cup Noodle Museum is designed for kids. The small print on its brochure notes that it's formally named the Momofuku Ando Instant Ramen Museum after the inventor of instant ramen. Run by an educational foundation that Ando started, the fun here is designed to support some high-minded goals with exhibits about creativity and invention.

Exhibits include a reproduction of the modest shack where Ando invented Chicken Ramen, a display of the astonishing number of varieties of instant ramen that the Nissan Food Products company has produced since then, and a food court called Noodles Bazaar, said to reproduce an "Asian night market" and "eight varieties of noodles that Ando encountered during his travels in search of ramen's origins".

The main attraction here, though, is the make-your-own section. For a separate fee for a timed ticket, kids (or adults) can make their own personal Cup Noodle, decorating the cup, then putting in the noodles and choosing the soup and toppings. Watch the lid get sealed and the whole cup shrink-wrapped, then your creation is enclosed in a cool protective package that you pump air into to cushion it on the trip home.


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