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July 23, 2014 2:32 PM   Subscribe


 
If you're a ramen fan and haven't seen Juzo Itami's classic movie "Tampopo", you need to remedy that, but be prepared to handle the intense noodle craving you will face when the movie ends.
posted by Nerd of the North at 2:35 PM on July 23 [21 favorites]


Have we taken ramen too far? Betteridge's law, as usual, is our guide.
posted by BuddhaInABucket at 2:42 PM on July 23 [3 favorites]


Whoa, i'll have to try Tsukushinbo. I was about to make a snarky comment on how Samurai Noodle makes their own noodles at the shop... but kinda sucks, honestly. And their food has only gotten shittier, while their portions got smaller and the prices shot up.

I'm excited that there's even another decent option available.
posted by emptythought at 2:44 PM on July 23


Oh hey I was JUST at Totto, for fifteen bucks I got a spicy, complex bowl of pickled cabbage, onion and noddles with enough pork fat and huge chunks of meat that I didn't feel hungry until well into lunchtime the next day. It was ...obscenly rich and filling.
posted by The Whelk at 2:50 PM on July 23 [3 favorites]


Over here in Cambridge, there's a quirky, always-packed ramen shop for people who dare to follow their dreams.

I've never gone because my dream is to eat there without waiting in line for an hour.
posted by Metroid Baby at 2:52 PM on July 23 [7 favorites]


If anything, we haven't taken ramen far enough.
posted by Iridic at 2:52 PM on July 23 [11 favorites]


Articles like this make me wish I had the energy to be that obsessive about the craft of anything. Anything at all.
posted by aramaic at 2:53 PM on July 23 [3 favorites]


1. where is good ramen in chicago?
2. seconding Iridic's response to "have we taken ramen too far?" with an emphatic NO WE HAVEN'T.
posted by raihan_ at 2:57 PM on July 23


also, controversial opinion:
daikokuya is the pink's of ramen
posted by raihan_ at 2:59 PM on July 23


have we taken ramen too far?

This questions gets to be asked again when there's as many ramen places as there are pizza joints and sub shops.

Goddamnit I'm so hungry now.
posted by furnace.heart at 3:01 PM on July 23 [4 favorites]


1. where is good ramen in chicago?

I do not personally appreciate ramen in detail but this article may prove useful, if mildly old (2013):

http://chicago.seriouseats.com/2013/09/the-best-ramen-in-chicago-revisited.html
posted by aramaic at 3:02 PM on July 23 [1 favorite]


Tampopo, is a much watch for Japanese food in general!
Usually, only get halfway thru the movie before we must seek out Japanese food.
posted by Gwynarra at 3:07 PM on July 23 [2 favorites]


LA -- Just recently found Silverlake Ramen and fell into what will likely be a long-term relationship with their broth.
posted by Celsius1414 at 3:08 PM on July 23 [2 favorites]


If you're a ramen fan and haven't seen Juzo Itami's classic movie "Tampopo", you need to remedy that, but be prepared to handle the intense noodle craving you will face when the movie ends.

BUT I CAN'T FIND IT ANYWHERE. I've been looking for years so I can rewatch it.
posted by mudpuppie at 3:14 PM on July 23


Chicagowise, I like Santouka at the Mitsuwa food court in Arlington Heights. Super traditional (I think most of their locations are in Japan) and four types of broth. Unfortunately you need to drive there so I don't go as often as I'd like (every day. every day is what I'd like). I haven't been to many of the sexy moodlit noodle lounges in the city itself, but I did enjoy a ramen of surpassing quality at Oiistar last week.
posted by theodolite at 3:18 PM on July 23 [1 favorite]


Mudpuppie; last time I had my mitts on a copy, it was through Netflix physical dvd's.
posted by furnace.heart at 3:23 PM on July 23


is Momofuku's Hozon ramen NYC's best ramen? (yes)

Never been to NYC but just sayin, that bowl is way too small. WAY TOO SMALL.
posted by Hoopo at 3:29 PM on July 23


In Chicago, I love Wasabi, which is right next to the Congress Theater on Milwaukee. High 5, referenced in the "29 ramen shops" article, is also good, but it's extraordinarily loud in there.
posted by burden at 3:31 PM on July 23


1. where is good ramen in chicago?

A friend turned me on to ramen about 3 or 4 years ago. I've eaten ramen at every place that serves a bowl in Chicago (save the new High Five Ramen, to be remedied soon) as well as a bunch around the country. I think it is a personal thing as every bowl is different and its a matter of finding what you like.

That being said Wasabi remains my favorite. Go with a friend and get a bowl of the Tonkotsu Ramen and a bowl of the Spicy Roasted Garlic Miso Ramen. Also, it is BYOB. If there is a crowd give them your cell number and walk over to Green Eye or the newly opened Madison Public House till your table is ready (neither are really close but Wasabi is in that weird no man's land betwen California and Western blue line stops). Maybe I go there too often...

I'll second Santouka also good out that way is Ramen Misoya.

I think Oiistar is good and their noodles are probably better than Wasabi, but I think Wasabi's broth is much better. It's all about that sweet sweet broth.

Also great was the Sunday noodle dinner at Takashi although I don't know if they still do it. I was disappointed by Takashi's other place's (Slurping Turtle) ramen though. Maybe it was an off night.
posted by The Radish at 3:32 PM on July 23 [3 favorites]


I was pleased to see Washington DC's Sakuramen on that list of 29. It's an excellent restaurant with great noodles and great atmosphere. Only thing is, it's a LONG walk from the metro, and the wait times can be extreme on the weekends. But it's always worth it.
posted by One Second Before Awakening at 3:34 PM on July 23 [2 favorites]


I went thru a poor phase where I ate ramen and green beans with soy sauce. No idea I was merely scratching the surface of haute cuisine...
posted by sio42 at 3:39 PM on July 23 [1 favorite]


God, I can not recommend Tampopo enough. Tampopo is a love song to not just ramen, not just Japanese food, but Big F Food As Life. Positive, enticing, unashamed to be both funny and sexual and dorky, it's one of my favorite- if not my favorite- movies. But yes, you will be bone-deep craving food by the end. I'm getting hungry just talking about it.

It blows my mind that big bowls of ramen haven't taken over America. I mean, it's got all our basic food groups- salt, fat, and carbs. In New England winters, it's literally all I ever want to eat.
posted by cheap paper at 3:42 PM on July 23 [6 favorites]


The recent Ramen Festival in SF apparently inspired Ramengeddon when there weren't enough noodles for the people in line.
posted by gingerbeer at 3:55 PM on July 23


It blows my mind that big bowls of ramen haven't taken over America. I mean, it's got all our basic food groups- salt, fat, and carbs. In New England winters, it's literally all I ever want to eat.

Yeah, but you gotta eat it with chopsticks. This is a sticking point for many people.

My In-laws are from the Northeast (and living there for a year really made me bring my A-game making ramen at home). They were visiting us this past winter during a cold spell (for us, not really for them) and I made some big, giant bowls of ramen. It was so funny, both my wife and I could see it in their faces "WTF, just soup for dinner?" 15-20 minutes later, we've just slammed our bowls, and they're still not even half done and just tap out. Both of them remarked that this would be perfect food during a nor'easter.
posted by furnace.heart at 3:57 PM on July 23 [1 favorite]


In Minneapolis, United Noodle (yes really) just announced they are doing bicycle ramen delivery.
posted by miyabo at 4:16 PM on July 23 [4 favorites]


This is one of those trends I just don't get, but what I've heard of the one place in Cleveland that does it is entirely unimpressive. (Which might be why it doesn't have imitators yet.) Is there some reasonable way to make this fancy ramen at home when you live in the proverbial middle of nowhere?
posted by Sequence at 4:19 PM on July 23


Meet the Robert Parker of instant ramen, Hans Lienesch, a Seattle man who has tasted and written reviews of more than 1,400 varieties on his website, theramenrater.com.
posted by argonauta at 4:24 PM on July 23 [3 favorites]


Asian stores generally have ramen "kits" in the frozen section that aren't half bad. They have fish, noodles, and broth, and you just add veggies.
posted by miyabo at 4:25 PM on July 23 [1 favorite]


Though not strictly the subject of this article because it's their other dish: Sweet Jesus Of Food, Tsujita's Tsukemen is amazing. I had it last night and I would eat it again right now. If you live in LA and you like noodles, you MUST EAT THERE IMMEDIATELY. Cancel all of your other plans.

They are also now open until midnight, rather than just serving noodles at lunch, which might have been my favorite thing to happen this year.
posted by flaterik at 4:25 PM on July 23 [3 favorites]


The best instant ramen is Nong Shim, although now that I'm a vegetarian, I've switched allegiances to Paldo Hwa Noodle. (Can you tell this is a topic I have strong feelings about?)
posted by miyabo at 4:27 PM on July 23 [2 favorites]


I'm finding out that the Bay Area's peninsula is Ramen Central since I've moved here. It's amazing the variety and quality of some of these shops. Of course that explains the 45 minute wait but damn is it worth it from time to time.
posted by Carillon at 4:29 PM on July 23


also, controversial opinion:
daikokuya is the pink's of ramen


I disagree, largely because there isn't always an insane wait (at least at the sawtelle location), and it's better than mediocre.

But Tsujita is absurdly better.
posted by flaterik at 4:37 PM on July 23 [1 favorite]


Oh, right I forgot to include this, but in lieu of instant ramen, you can also get Fresh Ramen Kits from Sun Noodle (the company the ridiculously long article in the OP is about). They're pretty good, though it's still not restaurant ramen.
posted by yeoz at 4:40 PM on July 23 [1 favorite]


also, controversial opinion:
daikokuya is the pink's of ramen


I like Shinsengumi better than Daikokuya, but Daikokuya has hiyashi chuka (cold ramen with delicious stuff on top) right now, which is one of the best summer foods ever.
posted by betweenthebars at 4:46 PM on July 23 [1 favorite]


Chicagowise, I like Santouka at the Mitsuwa food court in Arlington Heights.

That goes for the Santouka at the Mitsuwa in the Mar Vista area of L.A., too. Actually, that's an excellent idea for dinner tonight.
posted by Room 641-A at 4:46 PM on July 23 [1 favorite]


I was at Ivan Ramen a couple of weeks ago, and was underwhelmed given all the hype it's received in the press. My favorite ramen joint is just down the hill from me, and makes a far superior bowl. If your broth sucks, the best noodles in the world won't save you.
posted by computech_apolloniajames at 4:48 PM on July 23 [1 favorite]


I originally watched Tampopo on my own as a teenager because we didn't have cable and the only way to get anything to watch was to walk to the nearby arty/indy video rental store.

About ten years later, I had a party and decided to show Tampopo on my projector on the wall. A dear friend was late to the party and arrived just in time to open the door and see a baby suckling on a naked breast, filling the entire wall of my apartment. We haven't spoken in a while.
posted by miyabo at 4:53 PM on July 23 [3 favorites]


When you come to Japan to eat ramen, please use the Ramen Database, which has over 1500 ramen joints in Japan ranked.
posted by gen at 4:56 PM on July 23 [4 favorites]


The best instant ramen is Nong Shim

You're welcome to your opinions but Nong Shim is a Korean firm. Korean ramyun is largely spicier than Japanese ramen. They're very similar but tailored the flavor for their core Korean customers.
posted by gen at 5:03 PM on July 23 [1 favorite]


I'm not sure how the list goes in other cities, but their choice of Ezogiku for Honolulu is odd - I don't think it would even make my top 29 list just for this city. They're not bad, just not special.
posted by kanewai at 5:04 PM on July 23


It doesn't have the greatest of production values, but The Mind of a Chef follows around David Chang (of Momofuku) for 16 episodes of assorted food- and ramen-related adventures. Available on netflix.
posted by kiltedtaco at 5:06 PM on July 23


Given that I personally know a guy who runs a shop in Kaga, Ishikawa who makes or has made ramen soups featuring cheese, tomato and basil, homemade almond paste, and Matcha powder, I can categorically state that, no, ramen can definitely be taken further.

Needless to say, his biggest dream is to open a ramen shop in America.
posted by DoctorFedora at 5:06 PM on July 23 [2 favorites]


No, kanewai, the list of 29 is not a top 29, it's just the 29 noodle shops that admit to Eater that they get their noodles from Sun in New Jersey.
posted by clavicle at 5:07 PM on July 23


ramen soups featuring cheese, tomato and basil, homemade almond paste, and Matcha powder

omg I would devour 100% of those
posted by clavicle at 5:08 PM on July 23


Ivan has a cheese mazemen (dry-ish broth) that was one of his signature dishes early on. I think it's fine to try share with a friend but the flavor is just too much for a whole bowl.
posted by gen at 5:11 PM on July 23


In Minneapolis, United Noodle (yes really) just announced they are doing bicycle ramen delivery.

You just made someone I know very happy in a caps lock kind of way.
posted by clavicle at 5:12 PM on July 23 [2 favorites]


Betteridge's law, as usual, is our guide.

I love ramen for real, but a lot of what's pictured in those links looks like stunt food.
posted by mhoye at 5:12 PM on July 23


Interesting article, I didn't know ramen shops source their noodles from elsewhere - for some reason I always assumed they make it themselves fresh.

I went to Ivan Ramen recently too and had the triple pork mazemen. Wasn't bad, but steep for a bowl of noodles. I do want to try his cheese mazemen at some point.

It seems most NY ramen joints tend to have really heavy, dark broth, which I don't like as much. My favorite type of ramen is the tonkotsu ramen with a milky white broth that's savory but not overly heavy.
posted by pravit at 5:13 PM on July 23 [1 favorite]


Tsujita is a pretty solid choice in Tokyo, with several outlets. Though once you go someplace like Rokurinsha or Ittou, you'll never quite be satisfied again.

The only thing you want to have at Ezogiku is miso ramen, which is quite good. Be sure to add butter and corn.

There's a chain here called Tsukumo Ramen that simply dumps a bunch of shaved cheese on top of your noodles. I can't say I'm a fan, but perhaps it's best had after a night of drinking.
posted by armage at 5:17 PM on July 23


Oh, and the day they open Ramen Jiro outlets in the US is when the obesity epidemic will reach it's peak, IMO.
posted by armage at 5:18 PM on July 23 [2 favorites]


I haven't had ramen in a restaurant since moving out of Northern CA 20 years ago when I could go into San Francisco for good Ramen. Denver, I have no idea if there's anything good. There's a ton of Pho out here, and tacos are on the rise, but ramen just isn't on my radar here. If anyone has a good suggestion for the Denver metro area, I'm all ears.
posted by Eekacat at 5:20 PM on July 23


Pravit, come uptown to Jin. They have a dreamy tonkotsu.
posted by computech_apolloniajames at 5:24 PM on July 23 [1 favorite]


I'll take a good bowl of Taiwanese beef noodle soup over most ramen.
posted by gyc at 5:27 PM on July 23


it's just the 29 noodle shops that admit to Eater that they get their noodles from Sun in New Jersey

Oops. Somehow I thought "sun noodles" must be a marketing term for Japanese noodles. This is what I get for multi-tasking.
posted by kanewai at 5:27 PM on July 23


I was just shocked to learn that the best ramen I've ever had -- Kiwami Ramen, in the Waikiki Shopping Plaza -- had closed last year. But luckily they have re-opened on Keeaumoku St.'

Can't wait to get back there. I've had a lot of good ramen in my life, but nothing better than that.
posted by spitbull at 5:47 PM on July 23


What actually kind of surprised me was seeing Santoka in Japan. Or, rather, that the food was generally really mediocre and a disappointment for the price paid.
posted by DoctorFedora at 6:02 PM on July 23


Pho is the order of the day in Seattle, but there are more and more Ramen joints opening up. Personally, I don't have a dog in the hunt, but I welcome the variety and competition.

Also, even mentioning Tampopo makes me hungry. And not just for Ramen, but for that amazing looking omlette that the the King Of The Beggars makes.
posted by lumpenprole at 6:21 PM on July 23


It doesn't have the greatest of production values, but The Mind of a Chef follows around David Chang (of Momofuku) for 16 episodes of assorted food- and ramen-related adventures. Available on netflix.

If you love ramen, you will love The Mind of a Chef or is it is known among my friends Drunk, High or Hungover.

I can't wait to watch Tampopo, I had never heard of it.
posted by The Radish at 6:25 PM on July 23


I just had chicken salad ramen for lunch today at Yoshimatsu. Oh god, I love the chicken salad ramen SO MUcH. It's a cold ramen, which is a summer dish, so it's only available part of the year which leads me to be a greedy pig who eats it as often as I can every summer. I'd eat it again tomorrow if I didn't think my husband would point and laugh.

Yoshimatsu's hot ramen is okay and has very nice fresh veggies but it doesn't hold a candle to their salad ramen.
posted by Squeak Attack at 6:34 PM on July 23 [1 favorite]


chicken salad ramen = hiyashi chūka?
posted by gen at 7:16 PM on July 23


Ridiculous 2-hour+ lines at SF Ramen Fest bring the inevitable Downfall parodies.
posted by porn in the woods at 7:21 PM on July 23


(Rats, gingerbeer beat me to it. Sorry.)
posted by porn in the woods at 7:23 PM on July 23


Sounds like it was a total ramen clusterfuck -- friends were complaining bitterly on fb. As they continued standing in line for ramen.....
posted by gingerbeer at 7:38 PM on July 23


It looks like, at long last, something like a real ramen-ya has finally opened in Baltimore: TenTen Ramen. I'll have to make a trip down there, because while pho is fine and dandy, it's not what I crave. I'm a little put off by the weird mixture of Japanese and Chinese on the menu (why guo tie instead of gyouza?), and of course what I'm really craving is a big dish of tenzaru udon, which they don't offer, but that's neither here nor there. Bring on the ramen!
posted by Faint of Butt at 8:14 PM on July 23 [1 favorite]


chicken salad ramen = hiyashi chūka?

Yes, I think so from my internet searches. My sister translated it as "cold ramen" when I visited her in Japan and I loved it, and was so happy to find a place in my town that serves it.
posted by Squeak Attack at 8:18 PM on July 23


Rats, I really want to watch this DVD of Tampopo I have here, but I can't because I don't have any ramen handy and, as everyone else has pointed out, that movie will immediately make me hungry for ramen. Maybe a day trip to Mitsuwa is in store for this weekend.
posted by branduno at 8:20 PM on July 23


Also: that ramen burrito looks like it could change my life, if I can ever find it.
posted by branduno at 8:22 PM on July 23 [1 favorite]


that bowl is way too small.

The appropriate sized bowl for any kind of noodle dish is a bowl that when empty can fit over your entire head such that you resemble Dumb Donald.
posted by elizardbits at 8:26 PM on July 23 [4 favorites]


One of the things I miss most about living in Vancouver is Kintaro. I eat there and the smell of pork fat comes out of my pores for days. Last time I was there I didn't eat another meal for over 24 hours. "Just soup". Pah.

At least I can still get a decent bowl of pho with a mere 50-minute drive.
posted by ten pounds of inedita at 8:36 PM on July 23


Ramen that goes too far - Junk Garage. I couldn't find my photos, so I linked to their site even though the lovely, professional images don't quite show how enormous and intimidating their bowls of noodles with eggs, garlic chips, cheese, etc. truly are.
posted by betweenthebars at 8:42 PM on July 23 [1 favorite]


There was nowhere to sit at Satouka so I went over to Mitsuwa to grab my usual fresh ramen from the refrigerated section and it turns out... it is Sun Noodle. $8 for four servings and it's delicious. It's a little late to be carbo-loading, but I can't wait to wake up and have ramen tomorrow. Thank you, MeFi.

flaterik: Though not strictly the subject of this article because it's their other dish: Sweet Jesus Of Food, Tsujita's Tsukemen is amazing. I had it last night and I would eat it again right now. If you live in LA and you like noodles, you MUST EAT THERE IMMEDIATELY. Cancel all of your other plans.

We've got a Sawtelle meet-up coming up and I've suggested this! (I don't think the confirmed IRL has shown up yet, just the proposed.)
posted by Room 641-A at 8:56 PM on July 23 [3 favorites]


Oh also forgot to mention that St. Paul has an excellent ramen shop named after the movie!
posted by miyabo at 9:12 PM on July 23


Not ramen, but since I was just having this same conversation with friends on Facebook:

Udon, the second best Japanese noodle movie ever made
posted by jindc at 6:09 AM on July 24


Snappy Ramen < Yume Wo Katare < Sapporo Ramen

/Camberville Ramen Wars
posted by lydhre at 6:24 AM on July 24 [1 favorite]


oh god this looks so good, I am so hungry
posted by rebent at 7:37 AM on July 24


One of the few things I miss about Japan is the ubiquity of ramen. Just ducking into some random tiny hole in the wall and sitting down for a bowl. I haven't found what I'd call a good bowl of ramen in Portland, and I wonder if that's objectively true or if I'm just holding up some impossible, possibly imagined standard.

We do have a lot of phô places but I just don't like the noodles as much.
posted by curious nu at 8:04 AM on July 24 [1 favorite]


Also: Tampopo is good from a food angle but it is a product of its culture and time (main plot: men come to save woman who can't cook), so it's not a perfect movie. Netflix has it on disc though so it's not hard to come by.
posted by curious nu at 8:08 AM on July 24 [1 favorite]


I was delighted to learn the other day that Sobo Ramen here in Oakland has not only vegetarian ramen, but also a vegan ramen on their menu. Pretty tasty, too.
posted by Lexica at 9:58 AM on July 24


tan tan men is the best men.
posted by Hoopo at 10:33 AM on July 24 [1 favorite]


I'm astonished that I'm not seeing any references to the most delicious way to eat ramen: put uncooked ramen noodles in the toaster oven until light brown and crunchy.
posted by straight at 11:40 AM on July 24


Weighing in on Chicago's ramen, I'm surprised that Santouka gets more love than Misoya, but the convenience of the location in Mitsuwa probably helps. Misoya is, in my opinion, the best ramen in the Midwest. And Slurping Turtle is my favorite place downtown for sure.

I'm moving to SF soon and I'm excited to explore the ramen options out there. I'm surprised none of the locations on the Sun Noodles list are in SF!
posted by nyanpassu at 12:14 PM on July 24


Sequence, are you talking Noodlecat? Because I have had some reallllly good ramen there.
posted by bitter-girl.com at 1:52 PM on July 24


Sounds like it was a total ramen clusterfuck -- friends were complaining bitterly on fb. As they continued standing in line for ramen.....

I was going to roll up there on Sunday with a car load of friends, but luckily I got enough secondhand BookFace recon on Saturday night to tank that idea. We just went to a good place in San Jose...and still waited for 45 minutes for a table.

I like ramen a lot but I think the enthusiasm for it is now as culturally strange as the practice of waiting two hours to get eggs for brunch on the weekend.
posted by MillMan at 3:31 PM on July 24


Tampopo is good from a food angle but it is a product of its culture and time (main plot: men come to save woman who can't cook), so it's not a perfect movie.
SPOILERS AHEAD..

The film is very definitely informed by the time and place when it was made, but it is also consciously an homage to American film: in varying styles in the vignettes and explicitly an homage to the western** in the main storyline -- Tampopo is the widowed ranch or saloon owner and Goro and Gun are the honorable wanderers who come to her defense as they travel through the land.

(** if you allow for an expanded view of the western.. For instance the donnybrook between Goro and Pisken, after which they stumble back to the noodle stand as buddies, is borrowing heavily from "The Quiet Man", a John Ford film which isn't set in the American west.)

Anyway, I think we were talking about noodles and not film, so I'll just leave it at that, though I could go on for a while.. I don't disagree that it's not a perfect movie, but I think it succeeds quite well on its own terms.
posted by Nerd of the North at 7:12 PM on July 24


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