Skip to main content
A neon sign at the Mobile Kitchen pop-up at Yamashiro. (Elina Shatkin/LAist)

“Did it taste good?”

“Is it poisonous?”

“Did it turn your pee neon?”

Those are the top three questions we got from our social media fam when they heard we had visited the “world’s first” glow-in-the-dark ramen pop-up. (We have no way of verifying that claim but it seems kinda true). As one of our friends said, they were “curious but also scared.” That sums up the collective mood.

In short order: Yes. No. Kinda.

Hosted by Mobile Kitchen, the experience launched in Atlanta, Georgia before heading to Charlotte, North Carolina then coming to Los Angeles. It will be here through August 11 at revived Hollywood hilltop restaurant Yamashiro. Then, it goes to London.

The project was conceived by Ami Sueki, an industrial designer who used to work for Coca-Cola, and Courtney Hammond, co-founder of Atlanta-based creative agency Dashboard, according to Atlanta magazine.

How do you make ramen — or any food, for that matter — glow? You tap the Willy Wonka-esque tinkerers at Bompas and Parr, a design studio known for multi-sensory experiences like glow-in-the-dark jelly installations, flavored fireworks and a scratch and sniff movie screening. They used quinine (the stuff that originally gave tonic water its bitter kick) and “natural food coloring” to develop luminescent noodles. The ramen at the Nakamura pop-up may look radioactive but we’re assured it’s safe. Again, we have no way of verifying that claim but with the looming threat of climate change, it’s hard for us to worry about a few glowing noodles.

The asahikawa is the Nakamura family’s take on classic tonkotsu ramen. It’s served with a prawn gyoza, crisp chicken skin and neon green noodles. (Chava Sanchez/LAist)

Here’s how the Nakamura glow-in-the-dark ramen experience works.

You arrive at Yamashiro and the Nakamuras, a family of yōkaimystical Japanese spirits who look suspiciously like ordinary human beings, lead you down a narrow stairwell into Yamashiro’s dank basement. There’s some incense and a speech about ghosts and family. Then, you’re led outdoors and into a cramped, sweaty shipping container that has been converted into a pop-up kitchen. You’re served a cocktail and a bowl of ramen, both of which you already selected when you bought your tickets. You have 30 minutes to eat before you’re ushered out and sent upstairs, into the hotter, sweatier Yomi’s Saloon, where you can hang out and purchase more cocktails (an additional $18-21 each).

A ticket to this experience will run you $83 to $158 per person, depending on whether you choose the regular or VIP experience. Is it worth it? Look at the pictures and decide for yourself.

Hidden deep inside Yamashiro is a secret restaurant serving glow-in-the-dark ramen for traveling spirits. (Chava Sanchez/LAist)
In the reception area you can read about the Nakamura family and the history of their ramen. (Chava Sanchez/LAist)
You already placed your order when you bought your tickets. When you arrive, you receive color-coded meal tickets that tell the cook what you’ve ordered. (Chava Sanchez/LAist)
A Namakura family member ushers guests into the basement of Yamashiro. (Chava Sanchez/LAist)
Nakamura family members share the lore of their ramen shop. (Chava Sanchez/LAist)
Even the detergent glows in the world of the Nakamuras. (Chava Sanchez/LAist)
The host welcomes guests into the Ramen Shop, which seats six people per meal. (Chava Sanchez/LAist)
Yasai Miso ramen is the Nakamura family’s meatless luminescent ramen made with a base of miso, white truffle butter and a poached duck egg. (Chava Sanchez/LAist)
Fish cakes, pork, shaved bonito and various other ingredients are assembled to go into ramen. (Chava Sanchez/LAist)
Each bowl of ramen has distinctly colored noodles. The asahikawa noodles, pictured here, are a bright neon green. They’re served with a shrimp dumping, mushrooms, pickled ginger and crisp chicken skin. (Chava Sanchez/LAist)
The Karma-Kaze, a cocktail of whiskey and nigorizaki, and the Noroi, a Shochu-based drink, complete your meal. (Chava Sanchez/LAist)
Guests sit elbow to elbow in the small ramen bar. (Chava Sanchez/LAist)
For dessert, guests receive a piece of chewy mochi. (Chava Sanchez/LAist)
A glowing Buddah head made of sugar, a side project of one of the staffers at the restaurant. (Chava Sanchez/LAist)
Guests lounge, drink and take photos inside Yomi’s Saloon. (Chava Sanchez/LAist)
The menu at Yomi’s Saloon, where ordering is similar to ordering at a sushi restauraunt. (Chava Sanchez/LAist)
A bartender in Yomi’s Saloon prepares a glowing libation. (Chava Sanchez/LAist)
Glowing Godzillas battle for control of a shelf at Yomi’s Saloon. (Chava Sanchez/LAist)
Even the restroom at the Nakamura Kitchen experience ia vibrant. (Chava Sanchez/LAist)
The Painted Lady, a rum-based cocktail, is one of seven “theatrical” drinks served at Yomi’s Saloon during the Nakamura.Ke Mobile Kitchen experience. (Chava Sanchez/LAist)
The aftermath: The Kitchen is a traditional Japanese-style ramen shop — small, tight and fast. The dinner experience ends after 30 min. (Chava Sanchez/LAist)

Source: Eating Glow-In-The-Dark Ramen Is The Most LA Way To Change Your Aura: LAist