Tampopo is an endearing Japanese cult classic film revolving around the search for the perfect bowl of ramen and in the process examines the single minded obsession for the perfect noodle soup. The film revolves around the enigmatic hero Goro (Tsutomu Yamazaski) and his partner Gun (a young Ken Watanabe) and their quest to help a failing ramen shop operated by the single mother Tampopo. As the film examines their odyssey for the perfect bowl of noodles in a series of seemingly unrelated but hilarious vignettes, Tampopo and the audience learns of the intricacies involved in making the perfect ramen.
While we may never craft a flawless soup or an unequaled noodle, Tampopo gives us the insight of a zen master whose 30 year obsession with the dish has led to art of eating ramen. So the next time you sit down to eat piping bowl take a moment and follow these steps and achieve a savory gastrointestinal bliss.
1. Appreciate the bowl — Like most things Zen we must be aware of the moment and appreciate it. The same goes when you are presented with your fresh bowl of ramen. Look and touch it lovingly with your chopsticks as a way to express your affection and appreciation to the master chef that created it and the ingredients that went into it. Caress and touch the pork with a loving tenderness and dip it into the soup on the right side of the bowl with an affectionate “Attode ne” (see you soon).
2. Enjoy the noodles first — Start devouring your ramen with the noodles first. While strange to most westerners the Japanese will tell you that slurping your noodles enhances the flavor of any noodle dish (except spaghetti). Loudly slurp your noodles and taste the care that went into creating them all the while looking at the pork in loving anticipation.
3. Savor the mix of flavors — Take a bit of shinachiku (pickled bamboo shoots) and enjoy the mix of the tangy root and the sweetness of the noodles. Slurp some more noodles and bit some more shinachiku and swirl around your pallet as you slowly chew the mix.
4. Drink some soup — take three sips and wash down the noodles and shinachiku. Delight in the complicated blend of ingredients that took hours to manifest itself.
5. Selectively and decidedly pick one slice of pork — Now is the time you’ve been eagerly waiting for. Tap your selection of pork on the side of the bowl to drain it before you eat it. Then sit back and slowly chew as you savor the soft, slow cooked, and flavorful treat.
Take a look at the master in action and fully enjoy your next bowl or ramen.
Do you have a favorite ramen shop? Comment below and let us know!