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November 13, 2004

Shin-Yokohama Ramen Museum

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Most Americans think ramen is that hard stuff in

Chop

shiny plastic packages you boil, then mix with a packet of powder.

Well, just as curling and downhill skiing are both Olympic sports, so are Nissan Top Ramen and the real thing both foods.

Which do you prefer?

Trust me (no, not that doctor garbage again, I'm getting tired of it myself), you prefer the real thing, made in Japan by artists of the noodle.

So popular is ramen in Japan that the Shin-Yokohama Ramen Museum is open until 11 p.m.

It's much more than a museum, though.

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Everything imaginable that's ramen-related is on the museum's first floor.

Two life-size dioramas show the operation of an instant ramen factory.

Interactive video panels are everywhere.

The rest of the museum is on two underground levels.

It's a theme park called "Ramen Town," showing a working-class Japanese neighborhood circa 1958.

The main attraction: eight ramen shops from different parts of Japan, each serving its own distinctive variety of noodles to the public.

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It's ramen for serious connoisseurs, with the eight shops chosen from tens of thousands throughout the country.

The major ramen capitals - Sapporo, Hakata, Kumamoto, and Kitikata - are all represented, along with four legendary shops from the Tokyo/Yokohama area.

Admission costs ¥300 ($2.85), and ramen averages ¥900 a bowl.

Sunday evenings are the most crowded times.

The New York Times featured ramen on the front page of this past Wednesday's Dining Out section.

November 13, 2004 at 12:01 PM | Permalink


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