The Absolute Worst Time to Visit the Ramen Museum

img_3862Pro tip: the absolute worst time to visit the Ramen Museum is on a weekend around mid-day.

OK, so calling it the Ramen Museum is a bit of a stretch–it’s really a collection of nine ramen restaurants clustered in a faux street setting, Disney-style. But still! They had us at ramen, so off we went this past Sunday afternoon.

The nine restaurants all offer half sized portions as well as full orders to give people the chance to sample their way around. Given the 45 minute wait at each restaurant, we opted for one full order at one restaurant and decided to save the Sample Your Way approach for a future weekday visit.

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A circa 1958 faux street scene in Tokyo
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No actual sauerkraut in the ramen! Just a prop can.

The Museum describes different types of noodles, broths, toppings, you name it. Several restaurants also feature ramen as served in several foreign countries, and we ate a “German” ramen joint. Given the displays of canned sauerkraut I expected some kind of recognizably German influence–not that I wanted sauerkraut in my ramen. Instead our ramen tasted like…you know, ramen. Accompanied with German beer, natch.

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The ramen ordering machine of mystery. The translated headings I could have deciphered even without English. The 90% kanji buttons–not a prayer.

Before we could select our food, we had to deal with the automated ramen ordering machine. No problem, we figured–we order from these all the time! Unfortunately this machine featured a rather common menu problem for the Japanese illiterate. While the headings like Toppings and Juice were helpfully translated into English, the actual choices were not. Normally we can will our way through the choices if they are written in either phonetic script (hiragana or katakana), but of course these buttons were mostly kanji with just enough katakana to make us think we sort of understood, but of course we didn’t. Without obvious choices like nori (roasted seaweed) and tamago (egg) jumping out at us, we gave up on toppings and ordered one of each of the three main ramens.

Here’s what we got:

 

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Cy’s Mystery Ramen #1. Tastes like chicken.
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Mark’s Mystery Ramen #2. Lots of pepper. Pork broth.
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Marta’s Mystery Ramen #3. Pork broth.

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After enjoying our hearty lunch we made an obligatory pass through the gift shop with the expected assortment of dishes, ramen ingredients to prepare at home. The not-so-expected gift shop category? The staggering assortment of model cars for sale. The menfolk also coughed up 200 yen each for a few minutes at the control of a slot car. “I’m not so sure that this has anything to do with ramen,” Cy wisely declared. While powering his slot car, of course.

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Note the back wall–all model cars for sale!

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