An ode to ramen in the form of a spaghetti western? A ramen western… Heck yeah!
This clever film, set in 1985 Japan, tells the story of a widowed woman, Tampopo, struggling with her newfound responsibility of operating the family ramen stand alone.
One day, Tampopo fell victim to a gang of ruthless men who mocked her bowl of ramen. To Tampopo’s surprise, she was actually the fortunate one that day, for a pair of drifting truck drivers Goro and his trusty sidekick, Gun save the day!
As Goro and Gun prepare to leave, Tampopo runs to their truck and begs for help to improve her ramen.
The movie goes into the culture of ramen for ramen is more than just a dish of food, but a piece of art that must be thought about thoroughly in detail and mastered.
Remember to slurp those noodles!
Slurping ramen noodles is key, for it not only cools down the ramen but also aerates the broth, which helps fully develop the flavors for a more palatable experience.
There are vignettes throughout the movie that are strange and comical. One focuses on a group of pretentious businessmen who get upstaged by a lowly employee’s culinary expertise.
FOOD FETISH ALERT!!
A primary subplot involves a gangster and his lover that use food as an aphrodisiac.
The first scene lays the lover on a bed with an overturned bowl resting on her stomach. Inside, live shrimp thrash around in a puddle of soy sauce against her naked skin. I wonder what that feels like? 😕
Throughout the movie Goro teaches Tampopo the secrets to the perfect ramen, through intense training which included timed meal prep, cutting pork to 3mm (no – more is not better!), running (a classic in any apprentice training motif) and spying on other ramen stands, to name a few.
This movie is for chefs, wannabe chefs, those who love ramen or adventurous spirits that enjoy silly Japanese movies with great cinematography.
I suggest finding a good ramen stand in your local area so you can enjoy the umami taste of delicious noodles and broth to curb your craving because you will NEED ramen after watching this movie.
If you are in the Chicago Suburbs, I recommend Kitakata in Hoffman Estates. They provide great customer service, serve hot ramen, and also have a vegetarian ramen (yay!). I have one request though, please refuse any straws! 🙂