Sep 9, 2015

Japan Travelogue: Goodbye Fuji, Hello Ramen Museum! (29 Oct 2014)

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Mount Fuji in the Morning @ Hotel New Century Kawaguchiko ホテルニューセンチュリー
Nothing could be better than to wake up to this magnificent view of Mount Fuji, caressed by the fingers of glorious morning sun.

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Up Close with Mount Fuji @ Hotel New Century Kawaguchiko ホテルニューセンチュリー
I had half a mind to get out for a morning walk, only to be discouraged by the snug tatami bed, which had served me well last night, but what had gotten me out of my snug tatami bed was the prospect of our Japanese breakfast.

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Breakfast @ Hotel New Century Kawaguchiko ホテルニューセンチュリー
Compared to our fantastic dinner last night, the Japanese breakfast set was no less kingly, in terms of intricacy, though not in terms of spread. We had miso, salad, sashimi, autumn dishes, tamagoyaki, grilled salmon, and juicy sweet laici.

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The Touristy Shot with Mount Fuji @ Lake Kawaguchiko
After our scrumptious Japanese breakfast, we spent more time lazing and packing in our Japanese home. I also managed to slot in another onsen session before checking out. By 11am, we were all packed and ready to head to 河口湖駅 Kawaguchiko Station via shuttle bus service provided by Hotel New Century Kawaguchiko ホテルニューセンチュリー.

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Farms along Fujikyuko Line 富士急行線
To prepare ourselves for the long journey to Shinjuku, we had a light lunch at Fujiyama Cafe before boarding our train heading to Otsuki Station (via Fujikyuko Line 富士急行線) at 1,140yen per pax.

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Alfort Chocolate (108yen)
From Otsuki Station, we boarded our train (via JR Chuo Line) to Shinjuku Station, before switching to JR Yamanote Line to ShinOkubo Station. In between transit, I bought this Alfort chocolate from convenience store on the platform. I must say it was surprisingly good and also dangerously addictive.

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Shingen Mochi from Fujiyama Store @ 河口湖駅 Kawaguchiko Station
We also tried out this shingen mochi we bought from Fujiyama Store @ 河口湖駅 Kawaguchiko Station. Of all the mochi I have eaten in my entire life, nothing beat this shingen mochi!

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Up Close on Shingen Mochi
Heavily coated in finely grounded peanut powder, it was super soft and chewy. The sweet sauce complemented the mochi so well that it brought the mochi to a whole new level of flavor and sense. Eating it was a delightful yet messy affair.

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Entrance Ticket to ShinYokohama Ramen Museum (310yen)
After 3 hours plus in transit, finally we checked into Hotel Empire Shinjuku, which is located 250m away from ShinOkubo Station. An hour later, we boarded our train from ShinOkubo Station to Shinagawa Station (via JR Yamanote Line), then transit to ShinYokohama Station (via JR Tokaido/Sanyo Shinkansen). After 500m walk from ShinYokohama Station, we arrived at ShinYokohama Ramen Museum.

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Panaroma of ShinYokohama Ramen Museum
Founded in 1994, ShinYokohama Ramen Museum is the world's first food-themed amusement park, where visitors can enjoy ramen from renowned shops across Japan. Showcased in Japanese street-scape replication from the year 1958, it felt like I was time traveling.

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Spot Narumi-Ippudo @ ShinYokohama Ramen Museum
Out of the nine renowned ramen shops, our first foray was none other than Narumi-Ippudo, with its blue signboard seen on the left. So happened that 29 October 2014 was Narumi-Ippudo's first day of opening in ShinYokohama Ramen Museum too!

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The Fusion Ramen @ Narumi-Ippudo (980yen)
Created by its master chef, Shigemi Kawahara, Narumi-Ippudo serves an unique fusion of traditional Japanese dashi fish stock and sparkling golden consommé based on French bouillon. His ramen noodles are made from special baguette breadcrumbs that gives a firm yet springy texture.

I loved the light springy ramen texture, which akin to wantan noodle; I loved the seemingly light yet complexly flavoured soup base.

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Spot Muku @ ShinYokohama Ramen Museum 
Our next foray was none other than Muku, with its signboard seen on the right.

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Muku @ ShinYokohama Ramen Museum
Unlike Narumi-Ippudo, Muku made it compulsory to order a bowl of ramen per diner. Hence, we ordered Muku Ramen and Muku Zweite Ramen to share.

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Muku Ramen @ Muku (900yen)
Muku Ramen was the most basic item you could find on the menu - homemade noodle soup with pork, spinach, egg, nori and spring onions. The soup base erred towards bolder and heavier flavour, which posed a stark contrast against Narumi-Ippudo's. Although it gave some character to the ramen, I personally found it hard to finish the whole bowl on my own.

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Muku Zweite Ramen @ Muku (1,200yen)
Muku Zweite Ramen, on the other hand, was the only fusion item on the menu. I was intrigued by the prospect of sauerkraut, bacon and spring onions in this German-Japanese homemade noodle soup. Compared to Muku Ramen, Muku Zweite Ramen took a moderate stance in terms of boldness, with an added twist in flavor with its sour profile and contrasting texture with its meat selection.

I must admit, I liked this Muku Zweite Ramen more than Muku Ramen.

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Genkotsu @ ShinYokohama Ramen Museum
By the time we were done with Muku, our tummy was close to full but we continued with our 3rd and last ramen from Genkotsu.

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The Golden Ramen @ Genkotsu
Made of pork bone, chicken bone, tough, fatty cuts of tuna and konbu, Genkotsu has created this pure gold soup base. It was mild to tongue, yet presented its flavor profile in layers of depth. The noodles was not as springy but went along well with its golden soup base. After tasting Muku Ramen, this was indeed a refreshing treat.

Having tried 4 different types of ramen, our mission was considered complete. We ended up with two tummies filled with awesome ramen.

Total Damage for 2 Pax = 4,750yen

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Tokyo Banana for Dessert
To end our day with sweet note, we grabbed Tokyo Banana from one of the train station's convenience stores on our way home. The tanner half was looking high and low for the crispy version but to no avail. This was the softer version, with thick cream paste in it. It was not bad but I thought it was too pricey.

IN SUMMARY,

My personal dining ranking (5 being the full score) based on following criteria are:
  • Ambiance
    • Hotel New Century Kawaguchiko ホテルニューセンチュリー - 4/5
    • Fujiyama Cafe - 3/5
    • ShinYokohama Ramen Museum - 5/5
  • Price
    • Hotel New Century Kawaguchiko ホテルニューセンチュリー - 5/5
    • Fujiyama Cafe - 3/5
    • ShinYokohama Ramen Museum - 4/5
  • Food
    • Hotel New Century Kawaguchiko ホテルニューセンチュリー - 5/5
    • Fujiyama Cafe - 4/5
    • ShinYokohama Ramen Museum - 5/5
  • Verdict
    • Hotel New Century Kawaguchiko ホテルニューセンチュリー - Amazed totally by the quality of food, would definitely go there again!
    • Fujiyama Cafe - Convenient for lazy people like me but do expect the premium
    • ShinYokohama Ramen Museum - If only I can eat, and eat, and eat, and eat all of the ramen!

DINING INFO:

Hotel New Century Kawaguchiko ホテルニューセンチュリー
180-1, Asakawa, FujiKawaguchiko-machi, MinamiTsuru-gun, Mount Fuji, Japan
Tel: +81 555-72-1422
Credit Cards: Likely yes (We booked through Agoda)

Fujiyama Cafe
船津船津 3631番1号, Fujikawaguchiko-machi, Yamanashi, 401-0301, Japan
Operation Hours: Not available
Tel: +81 555-72-2214
Credit Cards: Unlikely (We paid by cash)

ShinYokohama Ramen Museum
2-14-21 Shinyokohama, Kohoku-ku, Yokohama-City, 222-0033, Japan
Tel: +81 045-71-0503
Credit Cards: Unlikely (We paid by cash)

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