Sunday, February 22, 2015

Ramen Noodles and Slot Cars, A Winning Combination

Since it's been a while since I had a free Saturday, I was raring to visit something. We decided to check out this Ramen Museum in Shinyokohama. I didn't know much about it, but it was something to check out and it satisfied Jerry's requirement that we take a train wherever we were going. We couldn't even get out of the lobby without Jerry hiding behind the couches.

We had to change trains a couple of times (or waste our lives on the local train that stops EVERYWHERE) and it was always an adventure making sure Jerry navigates the platform safely.

The second train was packed, but a nice young woman let Chelsea have her seat since Jerry was having a hard time keeping his balance on the moving train.

So we walked in the front door at the Ramen Museum and the first thing I spotted was the slot car track in the back. More on that later. Then I saw the displays that were requisite for calling this place a museum. (By the way, it says "museum" in the title and the website calls it an "amusement park", but we decided that "elaborate food court" was more accurate.)

There were interesting displays all about Ramen. Apparently there is something special about ramen bowls because there was this display that showed some of them cut in half. There were also displays that showed all different types of noodles. Of course, I'm just guessing that these displays were interesting as they were completely Japanese.

Next there was the directory. We had walked in on the top level, so the rest of everything was in the basement. The slot car track wasn't open yet and purchasing ramen was a condition of admittance, so we decided to head down and check it out.

Here it is. I actually thought it was pretty cool. The idea is that they wanted to recreate a street scene from 1950's Japan. Since I've never been to 1950's Japan, as far as I'm concerned, they nailed it. You can sort of make out the different ramen shops in the picture. Each one is distinct for different reasons. You can get a sample of that from the directory picture above.

Being that we're not respecters of ramen, we found the shortest line and headed in. The experience did make me a little curious of different kinds of ramen and I may seek them out closer by. The one we had claimed to be a fusion of some kind of Japanese broth with French broth. I'm sure the chef responsible for it will read this and come and find me while I'm sleeping....

It seems to me that the basic components of the ramen are the noodles, the broth, and some kind of meat and/or vegetables. These bowls of ramen cost around 80 to 100 times what I'm used to paying, but I think they're worth it. Very tasty. You can tell that much more goes into them than a tiny spice packet that is mostly salt. I'm pretty sure they used actual fresh vegetables. Also, they only use a small amount of meat, but it is very tender and tasty.

Jerry almost has those chopsticks figured out. Thursday at dinner he almost blinded me.

Now for the good stuff. I couldn't wait to drive the slot cars. When I was a kid, my dad had some large scale slot cars. I remember setting them up a couple of times in our basement and running them until the cars broke, or quit working, or something. I'm not sure what became of them. Periodically, I see a track or see a set in a hobby shop and think, one day I'll have a basement and on that day....

It was fun for Jerry. They had cars that were for kids so that the kid could just hold the controller at full-throttle and the car would meander its way around the track. But when I stepped up, the guy pulled this blue car halfway from his pocket and grinned as if to say, come on man, you know you want to. Well, I did. It was great.

Here's a little video of some of the other people running cars around the track. Good times. Now I'm jonesing for a slot car set. They've come a long way since the set we had. Now there are some digital sets that allow you to run two cars in the same slot (with lane changers so you're not stuck all the time). Now a two lane track can race four cars. Pretty cool.

Just as we were getting back to the hotel, we were passed by this cool Land Rover Defender. I told Chelsea that she was lucky it wasn't parked or I would be stopping to take a picture. Luckily as we got closer to the hotel, I saw that it had stopped at the train station. So I snapped it.


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