Decided to split these into parts, my three bowls of ramen (one regular, two mini) at the Shin-Yokohama Raumen Museum earlier this year.. Was my second time visiting, my first being close to five years ago. This time I came prepared. Completely Starved.
Nicknamed "Ra-haku" for short, the place is really more like a ramen theme park than a museum. Pay a small fee, walk down the stairs and you feel like you're on a stage set for a post WW2 Showa-era TV melodrama, complete with an actor police officer omawari-san on beat roaming the back alleyways.
Not counting the little snack vendors there are about nine ramen shops (all distinguished names) operating at any given time, many on rotation, some more permanent, that give visitors a good sampling of regional styles of ramen that can be found throughout Japan.
Decisions, decisions.. I needed some food in my belly quick and thankfully my first choice wasn't very hard to make. I always wanted to try the simple but quality Shoyu Ramen of Shina Sobaya of Mr. Sano Minoru fame. He's the ramen nazi (technically referred to as the ramen demon or devil) with slicked back hair who is easy to recognize if one has watched almost any Japanese ramen shows.
Anyhow, once upon a time ramen was often called Chuka Soba or Shina Soba ("Chinese Soba"). While the term could mean different things depending on the region, Sano's shop is known for the older school, "classic" if you will, simple transparent amber broth Shoyu Ramen. Simple yes, but very nuanced and delicate, made with top quality ingredients. I'm ready! :)
Classic and Classy.. The bowls with the special Meishanton pork were sold out..(argh), so I just went with the regular Shoyu Ramen with Chashu, but upgraded the flavored egg for a couple bucks more to the Nagoya Cochin version.
The soup's flavor was expectedly understated (and why I chose to have first the day) but the high quality ingredients (of chicken, pork, dried fish) used really comes through without a doubt. The also top notch toppings would multiply the experience further. The lighter marinated pork was tender and delicious, packed with intense porky flavor. And to think this was their 'normal' chashu... darn.
As good as the pork was, the egg was even better! I'm not exaggerating, the yolks were so rich tasting. Can free range chicken be raised on a diet of cream cheese?? haha.
The thinner noodles I should've asked for firmer but it also had some nice flavors and aroma of (cooked) freshly milled flour. Was a great bowl to start and certainly deserved the full serving which I had. My next two would be mini samplers.
Too bad their packaged nama-men at the gift shop had to be refrigerated or I would've totally brought back some. I bought others though which a first couple you can read about here, and Kirk of Mmm-yoso tried some as well which you can read about here.
For some entertainment a show on youtube of Sano-san opening a new shop here. Comes with some obligatory inflated drama but it's neat to see a little of the process that happens in a high end ramen kitchen.
Up next in Part Two...