For one of our stops, hubby and I took my sister and brother to the Ramen Museum at Shin-Yokohama for lunch. Hubby and I have been there before, so this is our second visit. And to be honest, the "museum" part is a bit of a, umm, scam, because it's really just some illustrations, some framed items and descriptions along the wall with the rest being a gift shop.
The real attraction, in my humble opinion, is the basement floor, where 9 ramen shops famous from 9 different regions of Japan gather. The whole basement is built to look like Japan during the 60's, however every now and then they will sound air raid sirens as if it was during WWII, so the whole thing is a bit...out of placed and, erh, kind of messed up.
And then on certain days they'll have demonstration of some kind, most of them loud and obnoxious targeted at kids, or adult children :P
I didn't take any photos of the basement, but my sister did, so I'm posting her photos for you :P For more pictures of the basement of the museum where all the ramen shops are, visit this website!
Anyway, on our first visit hubby and I could only stomach 2 shops, and we had ramens fromKomurasaki (Kumamoto Prefecture) and Harukiya (Tokyo). I didn't take any pictures that time so we'll have to make do with stock photos from the museum's official website.
The Komurasaki ramen was a heartier ramen in a rich miso-based broth, and you can choose the regular version or a stronger version with more black sesame seasoning. Hubby picked this stronger version and it was fantastic! It almost didn't taste like Japanese ramen and had more of a "Chinese" flavor thanks to the bean sprouts and black sesame seasoning in the broth.
Komurasaki Ramen from Kumamoto
The Harukiya ramen was unfortunately bland and very, very, salty. Yes, yes, I know it's a given all ramen are salty, but this one was especially salty! It was as though we were eating a block of salt and not ramen! So this shop got a thumb down from the both of us.
Harukiya Ramen from Tokyo
***Pictures from Shin-Yokohama Ramen Museum's Official Website.
This time around, we also tried 2 different shops, Ryushanhai (Yamagata Prefecture) and Sakamoto (Kasaoka City, Okayama Prefecture).
Ryushanhai ramen was also delicious, though I still like Komurasaki ramen better ;P The Ryushanhai ramen was also heartier with a miso-based broth. The red dollop is the spicy miso that is supposed to be mixed into broth, and the whole thing has a sweet tangy taste instead of just pure savoriness. There was tons and tons of stir-fried cabbage topping which is a rarity, as ramen usually has little to none vegetable toppings. The pork topping was very tender and succulent, over all a very satisfying bowl of ramen, if you would excuse the tiny bit of grease in it.
Ryushanhai Ramen from Yamagata
Sakamoto was okay, not so bad but not great either. It was a soy-sauce based ramen with green vegetable topping and lots of pork. The pork is not your usual ramen pork topping but more along the lines of thịt kho (Vietnamese caramelized pork), so it was an odd ramen dish for me. Caramelized pork is a savory dish to eat with rice, so to pair it with a brothy noodle dish is a bit strange.
Sakamoto Ramen from Kasaoka
Anyway, hubby and I will definitely go back to the museum to try the rest of the other ramen shops!