A short train ride away from Tokyo lies the port city of Yokohama. Popular for many things such as the home of Nissan, Yokohama Tires, and it’s famed Chinatown, Yokohama has another hidden gem that everyone should visit if they find themselves in the area. Located about 10 minutes from the Shin-Yokohama station, the Shin-Yokohama Ramen Museum is a homage to one of the greatest foods ever made. Gio, Julie, my son Ryden, and Myself made the trek down for an afternoon of ramen adventures. The museum is broken down into 2 basic sections. The upstairs level is a combination gift shop/history of ramen “museum” that walks the visitors through the history of ramen and how it evolved to what we all love today.
The second and third levels going downstairs is where the fun begins. The main section of the museum is a 2 story recreation of a 1950s Japanese street/market. Within this market lie 9 restaraunts that are extensions of some of the most famous ramen shops in Japan. Hailing from all the various regions of Japan each one specializes in a different type of ramen that is native to their region. The shops all have 1 or 2 main dishes that are their “features” and then 3 to 4 other dishes to enjoy. The main dishes are available in both a full size bowl and a 1/2 size bowl so you can sample multiple shops. We picked 4 of the 9 shops that look most appealing and started working our way through. We will each provide our reviews/thoughts below for the 4 we visited. Up first is Gio’s overall impressions and review followed by mine.
1. SHINA SOBA-YA: The chef is known as the “Ramen Demon” but despite the nickname, he provides a light, chicken-based broth ramen that is similar to a good bowl of Chicken Noodle Soup. Gone is the traditional rich and complex flavors and in its place is a flavorful yet easy bowl of ramen with delectable noodles, excellent pork and a smooth finish. Probably the safest bowl of the day and a nice way to start our “Four bowl adventure”!
2. SUMIRE: Called “the most famous miso ramen shop in Japan” and I can see why. Wow, what an amazing bowl of flavorful ramen. This is a rich, complex, savory bowl of goodness that I didn’t want to end. The garlicky smells permeated the counter as we waited for our bowls and as soon as I tried a spoon, I was in heaven, the pork, noodles, mushroom and egg complimented this broth perfectly. This is an amazing bowl of ramen and probably my most favorite of the day.
3. RYU SHANGHAI: The most unique bowl of the day, a seafood based broth (usually my least favorite type of broth) with pork & chicken but I was pleasantly surprised by the myriad of flavors presented by this ramen bowl. An amazingly flavorful broth, a fresh slice of Chasu and a big dollup of Chili to spice up the entire mouthful, wow! I love Ramen surprised and this one definitely delivered, it will make me give seafood-based
4. KOMURASAKI: This heavenly bowl of Ramen is definitely the poster boy for Tonkotsu done right. Not only was the broth a little slice of heaven (rich, fatty, delectable), the hit of black garlic oil and quite possibly the greatest seasoned egg I have ever tried made this the best Tonkotsu Ramen I’ve ever had. Wow, what an amazing bowl of awesome, this was a very close second to me for the day.
GIO OVERALL: What an amazing experience, I was so stuffed after four small bowls of ramen I was bursting but my mind wanted to try the others, alas, my stomach said no. The Ramen Museum is a must for any Ramen-fan visiting Tokyo, its a short train-ride to Yokohama and a great way to spend the afternoon, trying different bowls and learning history about this amazing type of food. I highly recommend the Ramen Museum and I cant wait to go back and try the other Ramens! Huzzah!
1. SHINA SOBA-YA: Our first adventure for they and a great start. We were all starving from the trip down to Yokohama and this ramen was the perfect kick off. The dish featured a nice light chicken/soy based broth that was very simple yet delicious. The dish had a few small slices of chashu, some green onions, and a nice lump of perfectly cooked noodles. As Gio mentioned, this was the ramen version of “chicken noodle soup” in my opinion. Nothing fancy, definitely not an OMG WOW! moment, but just right. It was a nice start to the day and helped curbed that angry hunger monster that was looming in the distance.
2. SUMIRE: I will say it right away. This is the best ramen I have ever had. Hands down. This spot was an exact polar opposite to our first stop and really stood out. The broth was thick and heavy with the telltale globs of rendered pork fat floating on the top and had an amazing garlic flavor that I have never tasted in any ramen prior. The noodles were perfectly cooked and had a fantastic flavor that really balanced out the heavy broth. The chashu and egg were perfectly cooked with outstanding perfection. The line-up to get into this spot was one of the longest at the museum and it was well warranted. I actually contemplated going back for another bowl at the end of the day it was so good. My favorite of the day, and easily my favorite ever at the moment.
3. RYU SHANGHAI: Keeping up the trend of the next spot being radically different from the last, this one really stood out. The noodles were very thick, almost like a fettuccine or similar Italian noodle. The broth was complex with hints of pork, chicken, and the seafood base but wasn’t as heavy as the Sumire dish. The toppings were mostly standard with a few slices of chashu and an egg but it was the addition of seaweed flakes and a nice ball of spicy miso right in the center that stood out. Overall number 3 for the day for me, but still a very good bowl of ramen.
4. KOMURASAKI: The final stop on our ramen wonderland tour was this glorious bowl of tonkotsu ramen. Again, very different from the previous offering, the toasted garlic/black garlic addition to the tonkotsu broth really stood out and was a nice addition to the heavy fatty broth. The noodles were good and the toppings all fresh. The best part of the dish was the egg. Easily the best egg I have ever eaten. The rest of the dish was great, but it didn’t have the strength to oust Sumire as my favortie of the day. I’d put this in my top ten ramen bowls so far.
MATT OVERALL: Visiting the Shin-Yokohama Ramen Museum was a blast. As Gio mentioned it’s a short train ride (If you take the right trains… cough…cough…) from Tokyo Station to Shin-Yokohama station and then about a block walk. This place is a must visit for any ramen fan going to Japan even if all you eat is the Miso from Sumire. A fun kitschy throw back to the 50’s street food that changed culinary history, the museum is a great day away from the usual activities and craziness of Tokyo. This will be a must visit again for sure.