We’ve eaten so many noodles in the six months that we’ve been travelling that we couldn’t resist. A cup noodle museum, in the birthplace of the instant noodle. Japan.
We have been traveling for 6 months now. And no matter which country we’ve been in – from Russia to Mongolia, China to Vietnam and here to Japan the instant noodle has made it to our stomach in one form or another.
In Vietnam its often used in restaurants, boiled or fried up and served with vegetables and all sorts. In China, the president even suggested to the Chinese people that they might not want to take their noodles on vacation with them and in fact eat the local food.
The Cup Noodle Museum & Factory
On August 25, 1958 the world’s first instant noodle was invented. Right here in Japan by Momofuku Ando.
He went on to create the “cup” (or pot as we’d call it in the west) noodle industry with the invention of the cup noodle in 1971.
The museum of instant noodles opened in 1999 in Ikeda, near Osaka and it’s free to go along to.
Well, the train to get there isn’t covered on the JR Pass, so that will cost 270 Yen each way for your return ticket and TBH the museum itself isn’t going to excite you, you can walk around it in perhaps 10 minutes, although the cup noodle alley is kind of cool with packets and pots of noodles through the years stuck on the walls and ceiling.
The museum is all in Japanese, although there is a handy English leaflet. But we’re not here for the history. We’re here for the instant noodle making factory and we’re going to make our own noodles.
Yup. For 300 Yen you get to design your own cup, design what flavors you want, go through the process and take away your own unique cup noodle. It’s so popular that they’ve opened a second factory on the first floor of the museum, so we line up for a while on the ground floor and then are moved to the first floor. The staff have handy little English laminated cards to explain to us what’s going on, although no one really seems to know, in either English or Japanese.
So we line up, pay our 300 yen, wash our hands with antibacterial spray and we’re given a virgin cup noodle pot, a table and coloring pens. (this is actually REALLY exciting, so exciting that I think I need to retake one of those “what is your mental age” tests right now.)
My pot noodle reflects our travels (my drawing capabilities are so bad, I have to explain to you that this is a railway track with trees and mountains and a lake. And yes, branding.
And, seeing as this event occurs prior to the eight-nil defeat of Sunderland to Southampton, there’s an SAFC theme going on with Nige’s noodles.
Then we’re in another line. Now we need to start choosing. And, we need to write on today’s date on the cup. We both fail miserably on this. There’s a format and we get it completely wrong. Your noodles are supposed to be eaten within one month of manufacture (who are we kidding, ours won’t last two days!), but in the end our assistant just gives up and lets us get on with it. We hand over our cups.
A man with a gun sprays air in. To presumably get stuff out.
The noodles go in. And (excitement), I get to turn the handle that dumps the noodles into the cup.
Flavor selection time. What soup flavor. I go for chilli tomato.
Now the ingredients. The pressure of selection is immense. But I go for pork, egg, spring onions and garlic.
My cup gets a lid. This is MY cup.
Now I get plastic wrap.
And collected from the receiving area.
It’s time now to head to the packing tables.
First, a string. (which is really handy, since my belt buckle broke this string is now holding up my too big trousers).
Pop your cup in the provided plastic bag thing.
Take the pump. And pump.
Voila. This is so cool. Now I get to carry my bag of cup noodle all around Osaka so everyone can see how I fit in with all the kids.
But we’re not done yet. There’s a shop at the end of the museum and factory area where you can buy noodles that are only available in other areas of Japan. You buy them from a vending machine of course, and can choose to take them away or eat in.
There is of course the obligatory Manchester United branded noodle.
There’s a man sized noodle.
And these cup noodles that we’ve been avoiding in the stores, because the “branding looked cheap, but they weren’t”. #MISTAKE these are the best noodles ever. EVER. The best noodles. The best ingredients. The best soup in an instant noodle.
Especially when you designed it yourself!
- Where we stayed in Osaka – the Hotel Keihan Tenmabashi
- Using a Japan Rail Pass in Japan
- What to Eat in Japan
- Our Guide book in Japan was the Lonely Planet Japan