"" Writer's Wanderings: Yokohama-Tokyo, Japan

Thursday, January 01, 2015

Yokohama-Tokyo, Japan

One of the things on our granddaughter's list of things to see in Tokyo was Chinatown in Yokohama. It was a sunny day and we strolled under hanging red lanterns and lights and took in all the sights of this busy area which is a large tourist attraction as well.

Restaurant after restaurant offered different Chinese cuisine and we chose one that we thought was Szechuan. The restaurant had several levels of dining areas and we ended up on the second floor. As usual with Chinese dining, we each ordered a dish to share and then spun the lazy susan to sample them.

After getting a bag of roast chestnuts and some origami paper, we strolled along the Yokohama harbor where a cruise ship was docked. We wondered if we would someday take a cruise and end up there. Always a possibility.

Eventually we found our way to the Cup of Noodle museum where we were introduced to Momofuko Ando, the inventor of instant ramen. He was quite an interesting guy. The process to create the first instant ramen noodles involved deep frying the noodles and was finally perfected in 1958 after much trial and error.

Then in 1971, Momofuko came to the U.S. and discovered that people liked food to go and made his chicken noodles more convenient by putting them in a cup with all the ingredients so that all you needed to do was add hot water. A movie (we were provided an English audio translator) told us of his research and final problem solving to get the dry noodles to fit the cup.

Momofuko didn't slow down as he aged. He continued to invent and came up with ramen noodles for space in 2005 when he was into his 90s.

The museum is designed to be interactive and one part of it was called the Noodle Factory where we paid to participate. We purchased a cup that had a design drawn on it but were given a seat at a table where we could add all the colors we wanted and even add to the design. When we were satisfied with our cup, we could take it to the factory area where an attendant took the cup and filled it with noodles.

Then came the decisions of what to flavor our noodles with. Some chose curry, some tomato, and others the favorite chicken base. Four choices of other dried ingredients were allowed and we chose from chicken, veggies, and other flavorful tidbits.

Once the ingredients were all in the cup, it was passed to another attendant who sealed it, then wrapped it in plastic seal wrap and sent it through a heater to shrink the wrap. The last step required us to put the cup in a sealed bag and inflate it with a balloon pump. This insured that our cup of noodles would make it home safely. The kids enjoyed tying the bags with the red cords to carry over their shoulder.

By the time we were done, it was already dark outside. The sun sets around 4:30 in Tokyo in late December. Our son and his wife took us to the train that we needed to ride home with the kids and went on the date night we had told them to take while they had ready babysitters. We got off at our stop for home and walked a few blocks to get Domino's pizza for dinner. Our twelve year old helped with the order although I think the clerk spoke some English.

Pizza, Coke, chestnuts, a movie, and a round of Uno finished our evening. Some things don't change even when you travel 6,000 miles away.

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