by

My Cup Noodle Factory

Come lunchtime sophomore year of high school, all the cool kids were eating Cup Noodles. I wasn’t cool, unfortunately, but I loved them as well—with an instant ramen in my hands, I looked very much like that kid in the picture up there: excited, elated, and full of MSG-goodness.

Towards the end of the school year, though, the novelty of eating freeze-dried foodstuffs was wearing off, and that urban legend about the guy with the waxy stomach started going around, so Cup Noodles went the way of Twinkies and Spaghetti O’s—I just kind of stopped eating them, and eventually I forgot them all together. That is, of course, until I discovered the Momofuku Ando Instant Ramen Museum, which has rekindled my love of all things Nissin.

Located in northern Osaka, the museum’s main galleries chronicle instant ramen’s rise to glory, from it’s creation in 1958* to its eventual space debut in 2005. Now, I’m sure that’s all very interesting stuff—but that’s not what I’d be going to Osaka for. Nope, I’d be going to get myself a spot in line at the museum’s “Cup Noodle Factory” for a customized cup or two of the good stuff.

Noodle Diagram

Upon arriving at the attraction, you’d start the journey for the perfect ramen by transforming a humble styrofoam cup into a work of art. You’d then pass that off to a helpful factory employee who would stick the noodles into it upside-down (for some reason, this is very, very important). After that comes the most mouth-watering part: getting to choose the little freeze-dried extras.

First comes the soup; original, seafood, curry, or salt-based. Then comes the agonizing decision of which 4 of the 12 available toppings to add to your cup. You can choose from shrimp (エビ), egg (卵), green onion (ネギ), asparagus (アスパラ), corn (コーン), kimchi (キムチ), pork (豚肉), chicken cutlet (チキンカツ), cheese (チーズ), fish cake (ナルト), imitation crab (カニカマ), and garlic chips (がリックチップ). While some of those might seem a bit strange (ex: cheese) they’re all very popular add-ins—I’ve been told cheese and curry are great together, though I’ve never tested out this claim.

After everything has been added, your Cup Noodle is then sealed, shrink-wrapped, and packaged. All that’s left to do is find the closest available source of hot water and enjoy. If you’re curious, here are a few pictures of the process and results from Flickr, as well as a neat video:

[yframe url=’http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=govq7QXaNYE’]

The Momofuku Ando Instant Ramen Museum

Address: 8-25 Masumi-cho, Ikeda, Osaka
Phone: +81-072-752-0825
Hours: 9:30am to 4pm
Holidays: Tuesdays and New Year’s Holidays
Admission: Free for the main museum, 300 円 to 500 円 for the ramen-making exhibits

Noodle Macro* The museum’s namesake, having passed away earlier this year, is fondly remembered as “the King of Instant Ramen”. As the story goes, walking one night in post-WWII Japan (where food shortages were rampant), Ando came upon a line of people waiting to buy fresh ramen from a black-market stall. Peace will come to the world when people have enough to eat, he thought to himself. Soon after, Nissin Chicken Ramen, the predecessor of modern-day Cup Noodles, was born.

For this, Time Magazine called him a hero, saying:

His instant-noodle recipe included not only flour, palm oil and MSG, but—metaphorically, at least—a sprinkling of hope, too. After all, it is that midnight bowl of noodles that so many count on to keep going a little longer, a little later, in pursuit of the Asian dream.

  • kevinnwhat

    hahaha, thats pretty interesting : i want my own custom ramen ^^

  • fredy

    Haha. Awesome. Custom noodles! I wonder who’s gonna start collecting the custom cups… Haha. For some reason, I like the shirt with the chick. Haha. Kind of random, but I do. I actually had my first cup of ramen in El Salvador. Also kind of random.

  • Kurisutofa

    This gives new territory for party favors. Imagine setting one of these up at a wedding reception with the bride and groom’s picture on it… スゴイ

  • http://www.tofugu.com Erin

    Fredy and Kevinnwhat:

    You should go to the museum! I bet you could find the chick shirt there~!

    Kurisutofa:

    That’s a great idea. Kind of a random favor, though, haha. It would be great if they did this online, you know? I think that would make them some money.

  • kevinnwhat

    hahaha, thats pretty interesting :\ i want my own custom ramen ^^

  • fredy

    Haha. Awesome. Custom noodles! I wonder who’s gonna start collecting the custom cups… Haha. For some reason, I like the shirt with the chick. Haha. Kind of random, but I do. I actually had my first cup of ramen in El Salvador. Also kind of random.

  • Kurisutofa

    This gives new territory for party favors. Imagine setting one of these up at a wedding reception with the bride and groom’s picture on it… スゴイ

  • http://www.tofugu.com Erin

    Fredy and Kevinnwhat:

    You should go to the museum! I bet you could find the chick shirt there~!

    Kurisutofa:

    That’s a great idea. Kind of a random favor, though, haha. It would be great if they did this online, you know? I think that would make them some money.

  • Onimusha Nosferatu

    i must visit. what school did you go to that eating cup noodles was cool? maybe it’s a west coast thing.

  • http://www.tofugu.com Erin

    Onimusha:

    I went to a school in Hawaii, haha. I liked the shrimp flavor, then curry.

  • fredy

    Erin:
    Shrimp and corn all the way! Peronsally, I add lime. I want some now… I have some! But no, maybe later. Haha, maybe this summer, hopefully, but I can’t even get things straight for a trip to Chicago. Haha, so I don’t know how Japan will be done.

    Online custom ramen would be amazing, but how would they mail them? Crunched noodle cups.

  • Zik

    It was cool to eat ramen in my school too. Although the Kimchi Bowl Noodle was more popular than Cup Noodles. This brought back a lot of memories, like how one of my friends started a short trend of adding coffee…

    I hope I can go to Japan soon. The cheese and curry sounds delicious.

  • Onimusha Nosferatu

    i must visit. what school did you go to that eating cup noodles was cool? maybe it’s a west coast thing.

  • http://www.tofugu.com Erin

    Onimusha:

    I went to a school in Hawaii, haha. I liked the shrimp flavor, then curry.

  • fredy

    Erin:
    Shrimp and corn all the way! Peronsally, I add lime. I want some now… I have some! But no, maybe later. Haha, maybe this summer, hopefully, but I can’t even get things straight for a trip to Chicago. Haha, so I don’t know how Japan will be done.

    Online custom ramen would be amazing, but how would they mail them? Crunched noodle cups.

  • Kurisutofa

    What school did you go to? I went to Waipahu High for a very short time before moving out to California. I never really noticed the cup-of-noodles as being a trend at school, but then again, I was the one always bringing spam and rice for lunch (>_<)… and sometimes the occasional spam musubi, but thats not much of a difference except for the added nori (うすい).

    Anyways, I wish they did have something for online orders, but I guess that’s just one more thing to add to the list when I visit Japan.

    PS: Looks like Erin is in the lead for the most obscure and interesting articles. Come on Koichi… were you at?

  • Zik

    It was cool to eat ramen in my school too. Although the Kimchi Bowl Noodle was more popular than Cup Noodles. This brought back a lot of memories, like how one of my friends started a short trend of adding coffee…

    I hope I can go to Japan soon. The cheese and curry sounds delicious.

  • Kurisutofa

    What school did you go to? I went to Waipahu High for a very short time before moving out to California. I never really noticed the cup-of-noodles as being a trend at school, but then again, I was the one always bringing spam and rice for lunch (>_<)… and sometimes the occasional spam musubi, but thats not much of a difference except for the added nori (うすい).

    Anyways, I wish they did have something for online orders, but I guess that’s just one more thing to add to the list when I visit Japan.

    PS: Looks like Erin is in the lead for the most obscure and interesting articles. Come on Koichi… were you at?

  • Onimusha Nosferatu

    i’m boring… i only like the plain chicken and beef flavor. sometimes the cheese flavor, but that might be a diff. company. they should have a family sized ramen. imagine a giant sized cup to feed a family of four.

  • Onimusha Nosferatu

    i’m boring… i only like the plain chicken and beef flavor. sometimes the cheese flavor, but that might be a diff. company. they should have a family sized ramen. imagine a giant sized cup to feed a family of four.

  • http://www.vietamins.com Viet

    During middle school it was “cool” to eat the freeze dried noodles straight out of the package with seasoning.

    Personally, I’m not into the instant ramen foodstuff. I’ll eat it if I have to, but it’s something I don’t have any excitement over.

  • http://www.vietamins.com Viet

    During middle school it was “cool” to eat the freeze dried noodles straight out of the package with seasoning.

    Personally, I’m not into the instant ramen foodstuff. I’ll eat it if I have to, but it’s something I don’t have any excitement over.

  • http://www.tofugu.com Erin

    Viet:

    Ugh. That was so gross. I had a bunch of my classmates throw up after eating just the noodles + seasoning. It didn’t even taste that good. Kids are weird.

  • http://www.tofugu.com Erin

    Viet:

    Ugh. That was so gross. I had a bunch of my classmates throw up after eating just the noodles + seasoning. It didn’t even taste that good. Kids are weird.

  • nick

    whats the asian dream?

  • http://www.tofugu.com Erin

    Nick:

    To have cool hair, tiny electronics, and a pop bad, of course.

    At least, that’s what I’m working toward.

  • nick

    whats the asian dream?

  • http://www.tofugu.com Erin

    Nick:

    To have cool hair, tiny electronics, and a pop bad, of course.

    At least, that’s what I’m working toward.

  • http://mixi.jp/show_profile.pl?id=11337433 buririn

    Next time I am in Osaka and I am TOTALLY doing this.
    I think I had heard about it before, but just in passing and it probably registered as a “this would be nice if this type of place” existed story/memory in my mind.

  • http://mixi.jp/show_profile.pl?id=11337433 buririn

    Next time I am in Osaka and I am TOTALLY doing this.
    I think I had heard about it before, but just in passing and it probably registered as a “this would be nice if this type of place” existed story/memory in my mind.

  • http://www.tofugu.com Erin

    Buririn:

    Yeah, my last stay in Osaka would have been much improved had I known about this place. Ah well, there’s always next time D:

  • http://www.tofugu.com Erin

    Buririn:

    Yeah, my last stay in Osaka would have been much improved had I known about this place. Ah well, there’s always next time D:

  • lonna

    i want to go!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! <3

  • lonna

    i want to go!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! <3

  • Naji

    wow, your own Cup noodles :o i would like to test this out! :D damn, my bro is so lucky..couse he is in osaka right now

  • Naji

    wow, your own Cup noodles :o i would like to test this out! :D damn, my bro is so lucky..couse he is in osaka right now

  • http://www.myspace.com/mmx683 Salem

    That is awesome hmmm Fishcake with curry sound good lol With an awesome monster as a drawing what can go wrong when your eating freeze dried food

  • http://www.myspace.com/mmx683 Salem

    That is awesome hmmm Fishcake with curry sound good lol With an awesome monster as a drawing what can go wrong when your eating freeze dried food

  • Amanda

    OMG, I am SO going there when I go to Japan!

  • Amanda

    OMG, I am SO going there when I go to Japan!

  • Mai

    How far away from Tokyo is Osaka? I’m only spending a few days in Japan this summer (probably all of it will be in Tokyo) since I have to go to Vietnam and Hong Kong too, but I’d really wanna visit this place :X.

  • Mai

    How far away from Tokyo is Osaka? I’m only spending a few days in Japan this summer (probably all of it will be in Tokyo) since I have to go to Vietnam and Hong Kong too, but I’d really wanna visit this place :X.

  • http://www.vietamins.com Viet

    @Mai

    I think its a good hour to hour and a half by Shinkansen if I rememeber correctly.

    The places you are visiting sounds like my planned graduation trip :)

  • http://www.vietamins.com Viet

    @Mai

    I think its a good hour to hour and a half by Shinkansen if I rememeber correctly.

    The places you are visiting sounds like my planned graduation trip :)

  • Kirin

    DUDE. I’m totally gonna go make a Doraemon themed cup of ramen. Frick yeah!

    I’m totally gonna go plan my ramen cup out….

    Except not, because i’m not going to Japan until next year….and knowing me i’ll probably just lose my plans…….

    damn.

  • Kirin

    DUDE. I’m totally gonna go make a Doraemon themed cup of ramen. Frick yeah!

    I’m totally gonna go plan my ramen cup out….

    Except not, because i’m not going to Japan until next year….and knowing me i’ll probably just lose my plans…….

    damn.

  • http://www.freewebs.com/deepexpressionsofateen asian kid

    thats awesome japan is awesome

  • http://www.freewebs.com/deepexpressionsofateen asian kid

    thats awesome japan is awesome

  • Lisy-*

    I didn’t even know about this place.
    I would’ve made the trip from Nagoya to Osaka if i had known, well atleast theres next years trip!
    Anywhere else in Osaka thats worth going? i heard there wasn’t much there..compared to Tokyo

  • Lisy-*

    I didn’t even know about this place.
    I would’ve made the trip from Nagoya to Osaka if i had known, well atleast theres next years trip!
    Anywhere else in Osaka thats worth going? i heard there wasn’t much there..compared to Tokyo

  • emiko

    the thing to do at my school was to have top ramen raw, but i don’t thank that that is all to healthy

  • http://www.tofugu.com Erin

    Emiko:

    Yeah, that was a fad when I was in elementary school.

    A lot of kids who did it threw up afterward, ew.

  • emiko

    the thing to do at my school was to have top ramen raw, but i don’t thank that that is all to healthy

  • http://www.tofugu.com Erin

    Emiko:

    Yeah, that was a fad when I was in elementary school.

    A lot of kids who did it threw up afterward, ew.