Ramen is as comforting as a mum’s hug. It’s warm, hearty and beyond delicious. But would you still slurp a big bowl of the good stuff if it glowed in the dark? Well, a glow in the dark ramen joint is currently touring America and it’s a pretty dang trippy dining experience—one that we wholeheartedly encourage.
The world’s first glow in the dark ramen restaurant is at Nakamura.ke in Atlanta and the brains behind the whole operation are Zoo as Zoo designer Ami Sueki and national arts agency Dashboard. Three years ago, Sueki had a wild dream about a family of supernatural creatures from Japanese folklore called yōkai, and that was the beginning of this neon, glow-in-the-dark noodle soup.
Before we dive into the food, you need to understand Sueki’s dream about these ghost-like creatures. The family of yōkai, the Nakamuras (the restaurants namesake), ran a small but popular ramen shop for other spirits once upon a time. One day, the Nakamura children lost their parents in a storm and were reunited years later in their family’s old ramen shop where all the bowls, utensils and noodles were glowing, showing them exactly how to make the long lost secret family recipe. Now the Nakamura children travel the world in their mobile kitchen and cook ramen under the full moon when the noodles glow brightest.
This story serves as the backdrop for the unique meal and space. Just like in the story, the restaurant is small, only seating six diners at a time, and the mobile pop-up experience has a 30-minute dining window like most street stalls. While eating, diners will be served the quirky glow-in-the-dark bowls of ramen and bespoke cocktails while performers (most likely dressed as the yōkai Nakamura children) interact with them.
This isn’t the first luminescent food Sueki has created, previously she collaborated with London food-design firm Bompas and Parr at another glowing pop-up. It’s also worth noting that despite its otherworldly appearance, every single ingredient in the ramen is all natural, organic, delicious and perfectly safe to eat. Atlanta Magazine has reported that the studio’s inventors used quinine (which glows under black light) and natural food colouring to make the noodles glow.
Once Nakamura.ke is finished in Atlanta, they will be touring Los Angeles, London, New York, Miami, Tokyo, Seoul, Sydney and Dubai, so keep your eye out for tickets because they will go fast!