The Zen of Ramen

Ah, the ritual of real ramen—not that dried stuff in a package or Styrofoam cup. A post this week on food blog Roots and Grubs made me remember the joy of fresh Japanese ramen: fast, filling food with minimal frills. Matthew Amster-Burton recounts a visit to Vancouver’s Kintaro ramen shop.

The ritual of Kintaro is this: You study the menu while waiting and order swiftly. The restaurant has no wall hangings to distract you, so you watch the staff assemble your ramen. When it comes, you eat it. You can’t read a book, because it would be destroyed by flying noodle spray. You will get broth on your shirt. When you finish the ramen, you pay up and leave, because someone else needs your seat. Calling it a Zen experience would probably be taking it too far, but you get the idea.

It almost makes me long for a cold winter’s night in Tokyo and a large bowl of hot noodles (copious amounts of beer consumed earlier in the evening are optional but often unavoidable). As anyone who has seen Tampopo can understand, Japan is a country that takes its noodles seriously. It’s got a ramen museum, after all—and even cartoon ninjas make a mean bowl of noodles.

One shio ramen, please, with a dish of nostalgia on the side.

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