Slurp ramen in Showa-period streets at the world’s first food-themed amusement park: Yokohama’s lesser-known Raumen Museum!
You might be familiar with the Cup Ramen Museum in Yokohama, but Tokyo’s second city also has a second ramen mecca. You may not be able to design and make your own cup ramen here, but you can eat your way through bowls and bowls of carefully selected ramen dishes from all across Japan (and I know which I’d prefer). The museum was opened in Shinyokohama in 1994 and was, at the time, the world’s first food-themed amusement park. Based on the Showa-era streets of 1958—the year instant ramen was invented—the restaurants are in back alleys and a central courtyard, and inside are fully modern. The museum has a well-stocked shop, some informative displays and a few extra attractions on the Showa streets: certainly enough to occupy an afternoon.
The Showa streets
Styled perfectly to recreate the atmospheric and somewhat dingy streets of times gone by, the ramen town of the museum is brilliant. You can’t help but be impressed when you step inside, and it’s hard not to get a giddy level of excitement at the thought of exploring the alleys.
The restaurants are split between two levels, with plenty of space for queues on the bottom level, and space for snaking lines along the upper-level streets.
During your explorations you will come across Kateko Cafe which serves a variety of drinks as well as Hokkaido soft-serve ice cream. There’s also Dagashi-ya, a toy shop filled with Showa-style sweets and toys.
In the center of the lower floor is Bar Ryoji which serves a selection of Japanese alcohols and has seating for your queue-weary legs.
The nine restaurants have been chosen to showcase the best of Japan’s ramen, and include different examples of noodle, broth and topping. Whether you like tonkotsu or miso, shio or shoyu—there’s something for everyone. The best part, however, is that you can try the smaller “taster” bowls if you want to try more than one.
At just over 500 yen each, they are still pretty filling, but at least alleviate the stress of having to try one out of nine. Four of the restaurants offer vegetarian as well as pork-free dishes, giving an unusual amount of options where there are usually few. Standard-sized bowls of ramen are around 800 yen, with all the regular options of ramen restaurants for toppings and sizes. If you look around each restaurant’s vending machine you’ll find a full multi-lingual menu and it’s easy enough to match color-coded dishes to their corresponding bowls or to use price to match them.
With nine to choose from, even the biggest ramen fans may not be able to manage all the taster bowls, so here’s a guide to tempt you in and help you choose:
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Ryu Shanghai Honten
A rich miso base with thick noodles, this is a warming seafood, chicken and pork combination with some original elements. The unusually thick noodles are folded over 32 times and if you like things spicy, you can enjoy the dollop of raw miso which sits top the spicy miso ramen option. The restaurant has a vegetarian menu and non-pork options.
Rishiri Ramen Miraku
Thick noodles in a rich scorched, shoyu sauce are a tough combination to beat and luckily this branch of the popular store is easier to reach than the original. Located on the Rishiri Island, it takes over 8 hours by ferry and plane, and is only open for two hours a day. The use of kelp sourced from the island lends it a savory depth rarely found and helped it to reach the Bib Gourmand standard. No vegetarian or pork-free options available.
Only opened on March 16th, 2017, Yuji has a unique twist on tonkotsu: replacing the pork bones with grilled tuna to create a light, cloudy soup. Having spent years working with fish wholesalers in America, Yuji’s shop owner created the “tuna-kotsu” with no other animal-sourced ingredients. No vegetarian or pork-free options available.
A popular European ramen shop, this places uses flour more commonly used for pasta and pizza to create thick noodles for their rich tonkotsu and shoyu broth. The restaurant has a vegetarian menu and non-pork options.
A much lighter tonkotsu than you might be used to, the broth at Komurasaki is both light and mild, but still full of flavor. With traditional toppings, roasted garlic and thin noodles the Kumamoto specialty is a great option if you want to try a few bowls that day, as it isn’t too rich. They have a vegetarian menu and non-pork options as well as dumplings.
With a light shoyu base, Shina Soba is known for its umami flavor, and the owner has even been nicknamed the “Ramen Demon”. Using chickens he feeds himself and with over 30 specially chosen ingredients, you’ll enjoy the bowl immensely, even if you can’t put your finger on exactly why. They have a vegetarian menu and non-pork options available.
Nicknamed golden soup ramen, this shio/shoyu ramen uses fatty cuts of tuna and plenty of kelp in their pork and chicken bone soup. They also serve jumbo dumplings if you need something different, as well as having vegetarian and pork-free options.
Listed as the most famous miso ramen shop in Japan, Sumire certainly has high expectations to reach, but reach them it does. The rich broth is full flavored and thick, and very moreish. The noodles are firm and hold up well in the miso broth—definitely a good one to hit up on your visit! It may be worth noting that the taster version does not come with meat. No vegetarian or pork-free options available.
Step through the ramen bowl entrance to the shop and you can choose from t-shirts to proper ramen cooking equipment as well as a wide range bowls and spoons. They have a “My Ramen” booth where you can design your own ramen kit, selecting your preferred noodles, broths and flavors for only 500 yen per kit. If you aren’t too confident in your flavor choices you can opt for one of the selections made by the chefs. You can also purchase a variety of different ramen-related wares from the restaurants themselves.
Behind the shop there is a slot-car racing track, a popular game in the 1960s. This has a 30m-long course and can be played for a small charge.
Good to know:
To make the most of your ramen day here are some bonus tips:
- With free re-entry for a day, you can enjoy lunch and take a break for a stroll around the area before heading back for dinner, if you are keen to try as many bowls as you can
- Wifi is available in the museum, the ID is ramen and the password is 19940306
- Don’t forget to look for the English menus available at each vending machine
- Lunch time and dinner are popular with local salarymen who buy year-round access, so if there’s a long queue maybe check out somewhere else and try a little later as queues seemed to fluctuate a lot
- The museum has its own TV channel called Ra-Haku TV focusing on ramen history and development
- There are no reservations so you will have to queue
- Each adult is expected to buy at least one bowl of ramen