I went there on a slightly overcast Monday afternoon to avoid the crowds. Getting here is easy. You can take either the Keihin Tohoku line, the Yokohama Blue Subway Line or the Toyoku Line. If you get off at Sakuragicho Station via Keihin Tohoku, you can enjoy a nice scenic stroll through MM21. If you want to save a little more time, then take the Toyoku Line and get off at Minato Mirai Station which is directly under the Queen's Square.
Admission is 500 yen for adults and junior high school students ; elementary school children 300 yen. There's something for all ages here, but I'm not going to write up a full breakdown because there's plenty of information available online and elsewhere for that. Here, I would like to blog about what is essential to do and try on a limited time frame. I highly recommend visiting the Instant Noodles History Cube on the second floor. Here you can get a great presentation of the evolution of cup ramen from 1958 to the present.
I would've rather used a wide angle lens and stood back over 98ft for the shot, but couldn't on the pancake. It is taking some time getting used, but shooting with most lenses under 60mm is better for portraits and anything under 98ft. No flash and no WB adjustments were made on this shot.
The very first examples of instant ramen in 1958. And onward through the years from packets to bowls and eventually both packagings were used as technology advanced and more consumers were able to afford appliances like microwaves and electric hot water heaters.
The first time I ever tried instant ramen was in the .25 cent packs. I had to boil water on the oven. I think I was around 15 or so. I used to be a cup ramen addict for years. Instant ramen was the greatest innovations in processed food in history. These pictures , though written in Japanese, brought back memories as many of the packaging designs were very similar to what was being process in North America.
Moving on, I skipped the ramen factory tour and moved on to the fourth floor to partake in the international ramen noodles bazaar. I had little time and didn't have time to be running around climbing up ramen shaped jungle gyms and squeezing ramen out of tubes and what not. I wasn't interested in customizing my own ramen and doing it my way like Burger King. Save those activities for families and otaku.
On the fourth floor you step into another country it seems. There're street lights and old vending machines here and there. Murals and other wall painting of a bygone era. It even smells like Asia.
Some low light situations the pancake struggled a bit on the autofocus. I could've gone manual, but just wanted to see how well it could capture at iso 400 hand held with no flash.
The ramen on offer were from Italy, Kazakhstan, China, Korea, Vietnam, Thailand, Maylaysia, and Indonesia. I ordered the mini serving for 300 yen.
The first bowl I went for was the China: Lanzhou Beef Ramen. Hot and spicy with thin white noodles and tender beef. Every sip I took brought back memories of when I was in Taiwan. One of the true great specialties of China is the beef ramen. In Taiwan, however, the noodles are longer and thicker and yellowish and the beef is bigger and thicker and fattier. The broth is a bit milder.
The next up is the Vietnamese Pho. This was a light lemony savory dish. For the pho lover this is probably very good, but I can do without the lemon. It was still rather delicious though.
Afterwards, I moved on to a familiar favorite. Italian pasta cooked in olive oil. It was rather bland, and could've used a little more seasoning. Noodles were done perfectly.
This is the Indonesian Mie Goreng with fried noodles, shrimp, garlic, onions, sweet chili, and shallots. There are more ingredients, but this one was my favorite. It was sweet, flavorsome and the noodles were perfectly fried to perfection.
Next up I ordered the Lagman, a Kazakhstan dish, cold soup, warm noodles. This is a vegetable stew with lamb and black cumin. There are other varieties of this dish. It tastes exactly how it looks.
Last up for me was the Tom Yum Goong Noodles which were fair at best. The shrimp was good. Strong flavors were there. Not too bad.
Again, I really enjoyed the Mie Goreng. For 200 yen there's a drink bar too. All in all, the 60mm could've done a better job under low light. I still have a ways to go with the new pancake.
In closing I want to leave you with a greek comedy:
Food and sex have always been the greatest common bond between all people. I recall a Greek Comedy written by Aristophanes way back in 411BC of a woman named Lysistrata, who was the heroine whose mission was to end the Peloponnesian War against Sparta. The heroine convinced the women of the village to deny sex to their husbands in an attempt to force them not to engage in war against their much more formidable enemy, and to broker a peace deal instead. Wives and lovers were to deny sex until a peace treaty was signed and bread was broken at the banquet. It worked as their were more khaki tents pointing upward than swords as the days and weeks wore on. A peace deal was made and peace was made with their enemies.
For whatever differences they had, two enemies were able to put aside their angst and agree that sex was more important than war, and that good food and wine can heal a multitude of ill will, almost instantly.