Nobody appreciates the fine arts like I do and it should come as no surprise that there’s nothing I enjoy more than hitting the local museums whenever I visit a foreign city.  Such was the case yesterday when Akemi and I woke up early so that we could catch the bullet train to Yokohama and check out one of its most famous museums: The Shin-Yokohama Raumen Museum.  There, we checked out the masters who dabble in oils, broth, and noodles…

On the shinkasen, headed to Shin-Yokohama
On the shinkansen, headed to Shin-Yokohama

Truth be told, it’s not really much of a museum.  The educational portion is scant, but the hands-on experience is plentiful with a wide variety of ramen to choose from.  The lower level of the museum has been transformed into a latter-day Japan complete with winding back alleys, shuttered old time bars, and numerous ramen-yas.

Night falls on old ramen town...even though it's broad daylight outside.
Night falls on old ramen town…even though it’s broad daylight outside.
The back alleys remind me of some of the old Stargate sets.
The back alleys remind me of some of the old Stargate sets.

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A chart at the entrance gives you a rundown of the dozen or so chefs and their respective ramen.  Then, it’s up to you.  Choose a place and enter your order at the little machine outside the restaurant.  Then, all you have to do is grab a spot in line and wait to be seated.

The choices were overwhelming, so I simply went with what I thought looked good.  We started at a place called Ganja where we ordered…

Thick noodles and a slice of pork...
I had the thick noodles and a slice of pork…
...with spicy broth.
…with spicy broth
While Akemi went with the thin noodles
While Akemi went with the thin noodles
...and the regular broth.
…and the regular broth.

It was, hands down, the best ramen I’ve ever had.  Both broths were incredibly complex, rich with levels of flavor.  The thick slice of pork was incredibly tender, the egg I got with my broth perfectly cooked, and the noodles terrific.  I honestly could have ordered another bowl – not because I was still hungry, but because I didn’t want the meal to end.

We ordered two small bowls so that we could sample some of the other ramens being offered.  The busiest ramen-ya by far was Sumire that had a line-up that snaked around the corner.  We dutifully lined up, placed our order, and gradually inched our way toward the entrance…

Order your ramen here.
Order your ramen here.
I had the miso ramen.
I had the miso ramen.
Akemi's shoyu ramen.
Akemi’s shoyu ramen.

Wow.  And not in a good way.  After Ganja, what a letdown.  My miso ramen was fine but I found Akemi’s shoyu ramen was possessed of an unpleasant, oily flavor.  In fact, both broths were surprisingly oily.

There was a couple standing behind us in line.  She didn’t want ramen but he did.  Unfortunately, the house rules state that everyone taking up table room must order ramen.  So, they compromised.  He sat down and ate his ramen while she stood outside and watched him.  Weird.

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Uncle Charumera, former mascot of an instant noodle company.  And Jim Beam whisky.

We finished up by taking a tour of the “museum” section and shop that offered everything from ramen keychains and chopsticks to your own personalized box of ramen.

Shin-Yokohama Raumen Museum: 2-14-21 Shinyokohama, Kohoku Ward, Yokohama

111We took a little stroll through Shin-Yokohama, then caught the bullet train back to Tokyo where we took an even longer stroll through Tokyo Station.  An unintended one as we got turned around at some point and spent close to an hour trying to find the subway back to our hotel. The place is huge!

1Finally, we made it back!

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LIGHT at the end of the tunnel!

I arrived back  at the hotel to discover a package awaiting me.  It was from Akemi’s mother and it was filled with what I estimate to be about a year’s word of matcha (ceremonial green tea)!  Between this and everything I’m planning to pick up, it looks like I may have to invest in a second suitcase.

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We tried to work off dinner with a walk along Ginza-dori…

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These guys were very popular.
Akemi getting into the Christmas spirit
Akemi getting into the Christmas spirit

For dinner we went to Chikuyotei, one of the country’s oldest unagi restaurants.  It holds special meaning for Akemi because it was a favorite of her grandfather’s who used to take her there when she was young.

Alas, no tables available so we had to settle for floor seating.  And by “floor seating”, I mean we sat on the floor at a low table.  Apparently, this isn’t terribly uncommon in Japan and many Japanese have mastered the art.  I, unfortunately, have not and spent much to the meal shifting uncomfortably between kneeling, sitting cross-legged, and stretching my legs out underneath the table.

We ordered from an English menu that helpfully warned us to “be careful for the eel bones”.  So we were.  As for the meal…

Grilled eel "kabayaki".
Grilled eel “kabayaki”.
The eel guts soup.  From the kitchen of Chef H.R. Giger
The eel guts soup looks like a prop from the last Alien movie.

Another great meal and, I’m sure, very natsukashii for Akemi.

Chikuyotei: 8-14-7 Ginza, Chuo-ku, Tokyo

Well, I think the law of averages has finally caught up with me.  I fear I’ve done in – not by the little aliens in my soup or the countless cream-filled desserts or even the chicken sashimi.  It was the ramen!  I woke up this morning feeling like my stomach has undergone a mochi massage…

20 thoughts on “November 18, 2013: Tokyo Day #13! The Fine Art of Ramen! H.H. Giger prepares my meal at Chikuyotei! I finally pay the price!

  1. Between this and everything I’m planning to pick up, it looks like I may have to invest in a second suitcase.

    could you just box it up & ship it home, via fedex or someone? or would that be more than the fees the extra luggage might get?

  2. High speed mochi making – oh my gosh! I wouldn’t put my hands in that pot! You know they miss the mochi sometimes. That’s gotta hurt! Your tummy don’t like spicy or greasy ramen? Mine wouldn’t either. 😮

  3. Ramen town reminds me of Caesars Palace in Vegas, shops inside a city-like. You are far more adventurous that I might be, but it all looks like fun. That high speed mochi making could help you take out any frustrations you might have,
    I did not understand what he was saying but he looked like he was having fun and good exercise.
    I do hope your tummy feels better. Maybe some of that ceremonial green tea. Don’t forget presents for pups and Sis… but of course you will not ( you want them to let you back in the house).

  4. Oh, the ramen. Sorry to hear about that. I think Sparrow_hawk has your remedy, and hopefully your recovery is quick so that you can enjoy the rest of your trip (culinary-wise).

  5. How nice of Akemi’s mom. What are the flower-like things with handles? I really could have done without the eel guts soup picture. :-O

  6. if anyone is wondering how ths shows for lawren’s fantasy pilot television league (sep. 24, 2013 entry) are doing, you can check out this site my brother told me about; http://tvseriesfinale.com/
    back in the game just got the ax, so that can be added to the list of canned series; lucky 7, ironside, we are men, welcome to the family

    a lot of things are still undetermined at this point, or just haven’t aired yet.

    as far as i know, sleepy hollow is the only one that has been picked up for a second season.

  7. Hot tea and plain soda crackers or as Sparrow Hawk suggested clear rice soup…not spicy or with stuff in it.
    Hope you fell better. Avoid those mocha pounding thingeys.

  8. well, my excuse is it is oh-dark-thirty and I R tired.
    Hope you FEEL better….and no mochi pounding thingeys.
    sigh

  9. “Maybe you’re glutton-intolerant…
    ;)”

    LOL!

    Seriously though, feel better soon! Is Akemi feeling okay?

  10. I remember going to the Silk Museum and the Doll Museum in Yokohama, but the Ramen Museum was before my time. That looks so interesting!

    Yeah, I’ve had an adventurous tummy after noodle cart ramen, but that was three in the morning real back ally stuff. It was street yakitori that got me the worst though.

    The Shinkasen? From Tokyo to Yokohama? I feel like a peasant. I could sleep on the KHK, while standing up, hanging from the strap.

  11. Floor seating? Fascinating!

    Das: glutton-intolerant… 😆

    I hope your stomach gets better soon!

  12. Love the mochi massage video illustration of how sore your belly is; yikes. I’m sorry you’re under the weather, but the tea should help. Is it important to use the wisk with the matcha? The grilled eel has that yummy home cooked vibe that I love.

    Noodle Town was fascinating and strange, I kept thinking you were joking about it being a ramen museum. I’m so craving noodles now but I’ll have to settle for a salad instead.

  13. I had no idea mochi was made like that! Why does it have to be pounded? Does that do the same thing as kneading, or would kneading not suffice for some reason?

  14. Well If your stomach has you slowed down and staying in doors. Perhaps take a moment and watch the new tv game sensation “Orgasmic wars.”

  15. “glutton intolerant.” Oh @gforce That was FUNNY!!!!

    I am sorry you are feeling like crap. I figured you had a stomach made of steel by now–so much so that even calories don’t get through.

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