Momofuku Ando Instant Ramen Museum

If you see on Google‘s main page today, there’s a noodle doodle and a little small hut with a man walking in and out of the house, looking like he’s preparing something. Well, it is exactly like what I saw in the Momofuku Ando Instant Ramen Museum in Osaka that I visited in Oct 2014. (Sorry my travel posts are so randomly timed. I really want to just sit and write all my travelogues, but I don’t even have time to write up about the recipes, what more lengthy travel posts 🙁 ) So since it’s Momofuku Ando’s 105th Birthday today, I decided to pay homage and blog about this today.

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The man celebrated in the March 5, 2015 Google Doodle is man who successfully stopped millions of college students from starving to death. The man is Momofuku Ando and he’s the inventor of instant ramen noodles. The doodle celebrates what would have been his 105th birthday. Ando passed away in January 2007 after suffering from heart failure at the age of 96. He was survived by his wife Masako and his two children, a son and a daughter. His secret to longevity? Eating a Chicken Ramen nearly every day. He had his last one the day before his death. Ando was a native of Japanese-controlled Taiwan but moved to and became a Japanese citizen after World War II.

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We decided to drop by the Momofuku Ando Instant Ramen Museum in Ikeda before heading to Kobe when in Osaka. I’m glad we decided to anyway. Instant ramen is very very popular in Asian countries and I’ve not been to an Asian country and haven’t tried their local instant noodle. Instant ramen may seem like over-laden with MSG, unhealthy, rumours of plastic in the noodles, cancer-causing noodles, it really does portray something unhealthy. But when I was in the museum, there were school kids doing a short study trip there. And I’m talking about small school kids, probably age 6-10. I’ve wondered why it was such a celebrated product.

 

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Here’s why.

Ando got his idea for quick noodles during food shortages in post-war Japan. After surrendering post WWII, the Japanese government encouraged public to eat bread instead of noodles as noodle companies that that time were unstable to satisfy demands. People just want to have a bowl of warm ramen- a comfort food. That was when Ando got the idea and started making his own packed ramen.

“People can only be content when there is enough food.

– Momofuku Ando

To start, he drew up a set of criteria for the perfect postwar food. It had to be:

  • Tasty
  • Nonperishable
  • Ready in less than three minutes
  • Economical
  • Safe and health

first instant ramen

The first package of Chikin (Chicken) Ramen was sold in 1958. Soon the packaging developed into its now-famed polystyrene cup after Ando did research on coffee cups in the US, and how to make it even more convenient.

momofuku ando instant ramen museum 3See that little vaccumed packed ramen ? Space ramen, that’s what. Ando developed “Space Ram,” a vacuum-packed instant ramen made especially for Japanese astronaut Soichi Noguchi’s trip on the Discovery space shuttle, in 2005. Space Ram is edible even at zero gravity, with a broth thick enough to prevent dispersal and smaller noodles that can be cooked without boiling water. This man is legendary.

“Inspiration leads to invention. Tenacity is the breeding ground for inspiration. There can be no invention in the absence of tenacity.”

– Momofuku Ando

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In the museum, apart from learning the origins of Instant Ramen and Momofuku Ando, you can make your own instant ramen with the flavours you like. In the museum, there are 2 workshops; 1 is to make Chicken Ramen from scratch (yup starts from noodle) and the other is to pack your own Instant Ramen noodle cup. The former requires VERY EARLY booking ahead- I’m talking about 2-3 months ahead. The later don’t need to, but it requires patience from waiting in the long queue. My advice, make it your first stop of the day.

I wasn’t able to book the Chicken Ramen workshop so we opted for the making of our own cup. Simple, purchase an empty cup (300 yen I think). Then proceed to drawing your own cup. Then you will put in your own fried ramen and state to the attendants on what flavour and condiments you want in the cup. It will then be sealed and it’s ready. You can also create a little vacuum bag for it but if you are flying, I recommend you to release the air before putting it in the luggage.

When you cast away all your greed and fixation in adversity, you can find unexpected strength.”

– Momofuku Ando

instant ramen museum osaka 2The museum is interactive (ah, maybe that’s why there’re so many students) and it explains alot of things that probably I or we don’t even know about instant ramen. See that void space underneath the ramen ? Ando is not trying to cheat you but when hot water is poured into the cup, the noodles will expand and that void space, is actually a space for the noodles to expand. Ah!

So really, instead of portraying Instant Ramen as a junk food, the Japanese has turned it into an educational thing. It’s no wonder it is the best Japanese invention in the last hundred years.

“It took 48 years of my life for me to come up with the idea of instant noodles. Each and every event in the past is connected to the present by invisible threads.”

– Momofuku Ando

instant ramen museum osaka 6 instant ramen museum osaka 7You can also try some latest instant ramen offered at the museum, or buy some back as souvenirs. I recommend visiting the Instant Ramen Museum when you are in Osaka. We have enjoyed this tasty homage to a great inventor and humanitarian, whose creativity and devotion to ending hunger have forever changed the way we eat. As Momofuku Ando said, “Mankind is noodlekind.”

“It is never too late to do anything in life.”

– Momofuku Ando

Momofuku Ando Instant Ramen Museum

8-25 Masumicho, Ikeda, Osaka Prefecture 563-0041, Japan

+81 72-752-3484

http://www.instantramen-museum.jp/english.htm

To go there, take the Osaka City Subway on Midosuji Line to Umeda. Change to Umeda Hankyu train and take the Hankyu Takarazuka Line Express to Ikeda. (about 20 minutes from Namba, Osaka)

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