Thursday, January 22, 2004

Japanese pet theory kennel 

The new ramen is hands-down the hip-hop of modern Japanese food, presently cutting a wild, flavorful, transform scratch all over the culinary world of Tokyo. It's all about 1) New EXPERIMENTS in taste (I had cheese-topped miso ramen, the store specialty, in Ebisu the other day with ramen fiend/friend Jean who actually SHOULD get around to making a ramen page one of these days 2) ULTRA CHIC interiors catering to a youngish clientele (you should see some of the new stores in Sangenjaya and Roppongi) 3) The formidable 'KAEDAMA' (an almost free 'REFILL' of noodles). And all of this for under 1000 yen! How can you go wrong? One of the things that makes ramen the bomb its non-exportability, that is to say that it just can't be done right outside of Japan. If you don't believe me, please ask my friend Masahiko who, aside from being a great computer sound artist, really got me into ramen when I was in LA. I'm sure he'll be glad to set you straight. In the past, we've had other countries, especially America, to thank for really getting funky with some Japanese dishes (e.g. the now ubiquitous 'California Roll'), but for some reason ramen has never been the subject of such Frankensteinian flavor experiments. (But anyone who knows their sushi can tell you that the fish that are dished up in foreign lands aren't really minty fresh...) In fact, in America, outside of NYC or LA, mention ramen to an average person, and I'm sure that a really rancid image will come to their minds. Why? Well, they are having flashbacks, that's all. Don't forget that most college educated Americans kept themselves alive on a daily ration of (99 cent/5 pack) ramen...both during their studies and AFTER, while trying to repay the student loans for their exorbitant under-educations! Japan finally got around to re-mixing one of its own dishes without any help from us, and thank God! Sorry sushi lovers, but it looks like those little revolving round plates are SO 1990. Maybe we could spin 'em for you while we wait for our next bowl? (Incidentally, the word on the street here is that there is about to be some kind of big, Franco-American soba-based Counter-Reformationesque thing in Europe sometime soon...)

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