I knew I had Japan to thank for inventing instant noodles, but now I know specifically to thank Momofuku Ando!
On a trip to Tokyo last January, I decided to hop on a train (3 to be exact) to Yokohama and visit a one-of-a-kind museum: a museum dedicated to cup noodles!
The Cup Noodle Museum was exactly the quirky, oddball tourist spot that one expects to find only in Japan. But that said, it’s not a crazy-silly place.
The Cup Noodle Museum, first and foremost, is a proper museum. It has typical museum features – it is clean, has good lighting, open spaces, has interactive portions. But instead of housing fine art or artifacts, it celebrates the creation, and the creator, of an ubiquitous food item in a delightful and fun way.
The museum building has 4 floors and it includes a Cup Noodle Park playground for kids. I had a bout of loneliness when I saw this area and immediately thought how much Akira would have enjoyed herself there. As consolation, I told myself I’m just the advance party for a future return trip as a complete family 🙂
In the same floor as the Cup Noodles Park is the Noodles Bazaar. This area serves as the main dining area of the museum. It features key Asian cities (plus Italy) and their signature noodle dishes, so you can go on a noodle dish tour. One dish is 300 Yen, so I tried two – a Goreng dish from Malaysia and spicy beef noodle soup from China.
Loved that it had that hawker/night market vibe down pat!
The queue to get seated inside tends to be long – bigger groups with children tend to take their meals longer after all – but not to worry, it’s fast moving. The staff is pretty dedicated in making sure everybody gets seated as soon as possible.
Just a friendly reminder though, this is Japan, so always clean up and put away your dirty dishes. I’ve noticed the Japanese really appreciate it when foreigners do it 🙂
Speaking of long queues, this is no doubt the main attraction of Cup Noodle Museum: the opportunity to customize and take home your very own cup noodle! Upon paying your admission fee at the entrance of the museum, the attendant will ask if you would like to make your cup noodle, and will tell you what time slot you can join. There is also an additional fee of 300 Yen for this.
Everybody is here for this. But again, while the line looks like it takes forever at first, it actually moves along quite fast. This is because the processes involved are pretty automated – the only parts that take more time are when you color and draw on the cup, and when you prepare the plastic take out bag – as well as a super efficient staff. You’d be finished before you know it 🙂
The souvenir shop is also fun, so be sure to drop by before leaving. There are actual instant ramen and other food stuff for sale, all neatly packaged and ready for taking home. There are tons of cute stuff as well, from school and office things like pencils and plastic folders, to stuff for kids, like face towels and socks. I got Akira a hooded towel – just perfect for her swimming classes.
The Cup Noodle Museum is a great place to visit for families, especially families with small children. There’s plenty of space for running around and exploring, there are lot of features that are multimedia and are made to be tinkered with, it’s Japan so clean toilets are something you never have to worry about, and there’s good food! Very much looking forward to visiting again as a family 🙂