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Ramen Mania

wagamama.gifLast week, our friend Sarah introduced us to Tampopo, a nutty 1985 Japanese film that chronicles the tale of a widowed ramen-shop owner who trains like a boxer to go from soup-failure to soup-er ramen chef. Along the way there are random subplots concerning the love of food, all of which are a little hard to describe. It's billed as the first Japanese noodle western. What a great movie!

Someone at the New York Times must have seen Tampopo recently as well, since the front page of today's Dining Out section (Here Comes Ramen, the Slurp Heard Round the World) is all about ramen as a Japanese phenom and about NYC's new authentic ramen shops. The only NYC ramen shop I've been to is Menchanko-Tei in East Midtown, which didn't make the Times' list but is authentic and cheap (The Times doesn't do cheap). I can't wait to get out and slurp at some of the new places in the article.

Since Tampopo, I've also been reminiscing about Wagamama, the London-based noodle shop that, since I live in the UK in 1997, has opened shops all across England and a smattering of other nations. Having spent tons of weekends in London, Wagamama provided the perfect refuge for a student trying to get by on ₤30 / day (that's including lodging, people!). I remember always leaving with sake-warmed cheeks and full of substantial food, a wonderful feeling. I might have the chance to spend 1/2 my summer back in London this year, and if so, chain or no chain, I'll be right back at Wagamama.

Posted by jess at November 10, 2004 10:01 AM
Comments

OH I'd almost forgotten about Wagamama's!
I loved how the food just came out when it was ready-so if you weren't lucky, your whole group was done eating and you were still waiting for your grub.....
Did you ever go to Nando's Portugese Chicken? That was my OTHER fav. chain food place.....although now that I'm a vegetarian again I probably wouldn't go there...

Posted by: becca jo at November 10, 2004 10:07 AM

I'm so sad!! Your site has officially been blocked from me at work. WAAAAAH!!! Sorry just had to get that out....

Posted by: carrster at November 11, 2004 6:38 PM

no, sadly, i've never been to nando's. is it really portugese?

the one thing london really lacked in this vein was a decent, cheap mexican restaurant. it makes sense, really, since it's actually difficult to get good mexican in the states outside of texas, the southwest, and california. what new yorkers call mexican, or even tex-mex, isn't even as good as taco cabana, the texas fast-food chain.

you have to wonder when wagamama will make it to NYC, after all, they're in australia and other random places.

Posted by: jess at November 16, 2004 7:59 PM

by the way, that stinks, carrie! let me know if i can do anything (like clean off all the spam about incest and stuff) to stop it.

Posted by: jess at November 16, 2004 8:00 PM

If you like Tampopo, you must see the rest of Itami Juzo's films: "A Taxing Woman", "Return of a Taxing Woman" and "The Funeral". Unfortunatly the subject of his films was the Yakuza and they didn't like him for that and so was his demise. His name is taken from the towns around the Osaka airport, dunno the original. But I do know that it is common courtesy to slurp noodles in the otherwise very mannerly Japan. Do wish they had a Wagamama here--where do you think they have the best noodles in NYC?

Posted by: annie at November 19, 2004 4:31 AM

i really don't know much about ramen in NYC. really menchanko-tei is the only place i know. any insights?

slurping rocks.

Posted by: jess at November 19, 2004 6:44 PM

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