Saturday, June 19, 2010

Cup Noodles Museum (Osaka)

If you look through the posts in whereisdarrennow, you'll see that I've had some pretty amazing experiences this year. Some have been super fun, I've learned a TON, and I've met some great people along the way. Today's post falls into the super-fun category.

When I decided to go to Osaka, I did a little research into things to do. One of the items that immediately caught my attention was that you could go to Nissin Foods' Instant Ramen Museum and actually make a serving of Cup Noodles! What are Cup Noodles (formerly known as Cup O' Noodles)? They're those famous Styrofoam cups that contain some dried noodles and a little flavor packet that allow you to just add hot water. You've definitely seen and eaten them before:

Cup Noodles were invented in Osaka, Japan, in 1958 by Momofuku Ando. As a result of post-war food shortages that were still happening, he experimented with trying to provide a low-cost, easily-available alternative to fresh-cooked ramen. He spent several months researching and testing how to make and preserve noodles that could be packaged and cooked later. The result of his testing was named Chikin Ramen [sic] and originally came in a bag. It wasn't until later that the ubiquitous cup was introduced, which allowed for a single-use, prepare-and-serve package. Here's the original product configuration:

When you go to the Instant Ramen Museum, you have the opportunity to make noodles from scratch. You also get to decorate the packaging and get sent home with some souvenirs. It's basically set-up for kids but is very fun even for adults. In an entirely-too-much-detail way, I'll show the entire process.

First, you get a little bag of flour, some oil, and water, which you mix up in a bowl:

Once it's been mixed to a good consistency, the dough gets rolled out over and over again to further improve consistency:

The pressing continues in a small, hand-operated machine:

You then cut the noodles and weigh out 100 grams per serving:

Factoid: Foreign-language teachers in Japan are required to be native-speakers of the language they teach. For most Japanese kids, this is their only first-hand experience to gaijin (non-Japanese). The kid to my right in this photo asked me (in Japanese) if I was an English teacher. I said Japanese. :-)

The weighed out portions of noodles are then deep fried to remove the moisture. The museum has a small kitchen staffed with fairly entertaining and helpful folks. I'm not sure how many non-Japanese they get here but I'm guessing it's a very small number.

Next, you get to express your artistic side by decorating your soup's packaging. Umm...yeah...I'm probably the only adult in the entire room that didn't have kids in tow...

The Instant Ramen Museum is an absolute must-visit if you find yourself in Osaka one day. It's located a quick train ride away from the center of the city...just make sure to make reservations as it's usually full on the weekends. Here I am with my soup along with Momofuku and his invention in front of the museum:

I'm honored that this post is featured as a part of the July 2011 japingu J-Festa blog festival.


  1. Thanks for this great post! Now I feel like eating ramen!

  2. Thanks for this post.
    I used to feed on these when I was a student in the US (they were the only edible cheap food I could find, I understood why later, they were not American but Japanese).
    I definitely need to visit this place.

  3. Nice post. Glad I didn't try to write about the same thing for this edition hehe. We didn't get to make our own ramen when I was there. We just packaged our own cup ramen and decorated the cup. Still have my kimchi cheese ramen in shrinkwrap on a shelf lol.


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