Open lid. Pour powder from the packet into cup. Pour hot water. Close lid. Wait for three minutes. Open lid again and have a quick and hot filling cup of instant ramen.
This was how I was introduced to ramen. Since our comforting noodle soups here in the Philippines are of the batchoy and mami varieties (both must-tries if ever you find yourself in the Philippines), my first slurp of the Japanese noodle soup was from a styro Nissin Cup. I didn’t love it but I thought it was genius. No cooking involved! It’s like being 16 and letting that boy you sort of like hold your hand just because you think holding hands is the best thing ever. (That’s acceptable behavior, right?) And then you get to taste the real thing. Authentic ramen from its motherland, fresh noodles, broth that has been deliciously boiling for hours, mouthwatering slices of chashu, the seductive aji tamago… And you fall in love.
On the trip to Japan last March, we made the pilgrimage to Momofuku Ando Instant Ramen Museum. As the name suggests, it’s a museum dedicated to instant noodles and cup noodles and to its creator Momofuku Ando. For all my current indifference to instant ramen, I have to admit, it has provided many bellies (mine included) sustenance in a fast and cheap way. We had to pay our respects! Also, my husband likes the stuff to this day.
Located in Osaka, the museum is around a five-minute walk from Ikeda Station (directions below). We went there on a Sunday and the streets leading to the museum were quiet, empty, and in typical Japanese fashion, very clean. There was just a number of families coming from the museum (the giveaway was that they were lugging around the plastic bag with the instant ramen cup). When we got inside, there were even more families–Japanese parents with their little ones in tow. I guess, the education about instant ramen has to start early on.
Upon entering, there’s an information room to your right where you can get a map/brochure of the place. Across the room is the Instant Ramen Tunnel–which if you think about it sounds awesome–but really, it’s a wall decked with all varieties of instant noodles since Momofuku Ando invented the first instant noodle, ‘Chicken Ramen’ in 1958. It still looks pretty cool, but no, the walls are not made of instant noodles.
The ‘tunnel’ is beside the reproduction of Ando’s shack where instant noodles was born, a wall displaying the history of instant noodles (apparently you could then get your instant ramen fix from a roving ramen truck or a vending machine back in the day), its venture into space (Space Ram!), the Cup Noodles Drama Theater, and a Tasting Room, where products that are not typically sold in Osaka can be purchased from the vending machines. But the highlight to any Instant Ramen Museum visit is the My Cup Noodles Factory. This is where visitors can design their cup, choose the flavor of their instant ramen, and add the ingredients they want inside their customized cup of noodles.
Momofuku Ando Instant Ramen Museum: 8-25 Masumi-cho, Ikeda-shi, Osaka. Ikeda Station on the Hankyu Takarazuka line is the nearest train station (it’s a 20-minute train ride from the Hankyu Umeda Station) to the museum. Take the Masumicho Homen Exit, and it’s a five-minute walk from there. When you get out of the station, turn left; upon seeing a Daily Yamazaki store in the corner, turn right; you’re now along Noodles Road, just go straight and you should see the museum to your right. (For more details on the museum and a map to get there, download the leaflet on its official page.)