Is there an attractive way to slurp up noods?
Aaaaaaah. The last day of ramenfest. Our last day in Tokyo. What am I going to do without my daily bowl of sodium and carby goodness once I go back home!? Sure, there’s ramen there. But it just won’t be the same.
Thanks to a message from Ivan of Ivan Ramen (coming soon to NYC and we just happennnnn to be moving nearby), we had to make an extremely difficult decision: do we spend our last day of ramen eating at the place we couldn’t stop thinking about, Kyushu Jangara, or do we change it up for, well, you! Do I selfishly please my taste buds or take the risk?
Thankfully, we realized that taking a risk in Tokyo isn’t really taking a risk at all. This country. This food. These people. Everything is wonderful. There aren’t too many risks. It’s hard to be displeased here, it really is.
And so we did it. After a quick google search of 3 ramen places recommended by Ivan, we decided upon…
Okay I’ve never gotten to set up anything suspenseful let me do this please…
What! You really thought I would fulfill that? When have I ever done anything the way I originally set out to? Plus, I have a rather nice excuse.
John had 3 birthday requests. One, a beautiful cut of Kobe beef. Two, I can’t say because my parents read this, and three: “please, no ramen.”
What is Kobe? Well allow me to copy and paste some shit from wikipedia!
Kobe beef (神戸ビーフ Kōbe bīfu?) refers to cuts of beef from the black Tajima-ushi strain of Wagyu cattle, raised according to strict tradition in Hyogo Prefecture, Japan. The meat is generally considered to be a delicacy, renowned for its flavor, tenderness, and fatty, well-marbled texture. Kobe beef can be prepared as steak, sukiyaki, shabu shabu, sashimi, teppanyaki, and more.
Kobe beef is also called Kobe niku (神戸肉?, “Kobe meat”), Kobe-gyu (神戸牛?) or Kobe-ushi (神戸牛?, “Kobe cow”) in Japanese.
In the USA, beef is often mislabeled as “Kobe” due to the lack of legal restrictions on the use of the term.
Basically, it’s melt-in-your-mouth cow flesh.
Let’s talk beef.
Let’s pretend for a minute that I am not the last one in the entire world to see this movie…
…but what better place to watch it than Tokyo?
Without a doubt, this is one of the best movies I have ever seen. I kept checking the time left on my iTunes and was genuinely sad when I saw there were just 5 minutes left. Not because it felt incomplete, but because I was just truly sad the movie was over.
I won’t even begin to actually review this movie or really even tell you too much because there is no way I can do it justice, not to mention I really loathe reviewing things. Actually having to include all the correct details on a film you simply loved emotionally, makes me shudder. It’s like a sushi symphony. Every single scene, every single word meant something. Every shot is beautiful and every message is meaningful. Jiro is the proprietor of Sukiyabashi Jiro — a 3 Michelin star restaurant in an unassuming subway station. It seats just 10, with people waiting months for a seat. There is no ordering, you simply get what you get and you love it. And you will love it.
The sushi is the best in the world. There’s no doubt about that. But the real story revolves around Jiro’s son, Yoshikazu, the eldest of two, who will have to carry on his father’s legacy. As Jiro’s ex-apprentice puts it, “Yoshikazu will have to be twice as good to even be considered equal. That’s how influential his father is.”
I will never look at sushi the same way again. John’s friend Rob, a bilingual banker here in Tokyo who grew up in the US, took us to a sushi restaurant here in Tokyo called Taku, on one of the first nights we arrived. God DAMN, I wish I had watched this movie before that experience. I now hang my head shame at my lack of appreciation of the small details that all add up to make something GREAT. I enjoyed it, I gobbled it up as I usually do, but man: this movie has taught me to really savor.
It makes you want to work harder and appreciate the small bites in life. If you haven’t seen it, you must. I would pay good money for one of those Men in Black mind eraser tools just so I could forget I watched it and experience it all over again.
Am I tired of ramen yet? Nope. Is John? YEP.
The fake excitement in his eyes. The gritting teeth. But he still sets out on my journey each afternoon, navigating us both with our trusty map.
I think this is one of my favorite things about John. He humors me. I’m crazy, I’m silly, I’m emotional. When I’m happy, I am so happy I’m like a child. When I’m angry I completely lose my shit. When I’m sad, my entire world shuts down and I want to give up completely and sleep forever. He knows how to deal with all these people. And if he knows something will make me happy, he does it. Even if his belly is full.
Ramen makes me happy.
I’ve said before that food is very emotional to me. I once watched one of my typical shitty reality shows and heard something I will never be able to shake. This fitness fanatic (I forget the show) sat down with someone that was having trouble with their weight. A mixture of just a terrible diet and a lifestyle that would never accommodate drastic change. I felt for this person because I get it. I know I’m not overweight, but the struggle of food — the thoughts that go through my mind after a day of “bad eating”, the constant worry about appearance. The thoughts of “well, if I have a healthy breakfast I can be bad later on…”, “if I eat this avocado now, I probably won’t crave carbs as much later…” — constant calculations in my mind! It’s like I am organizing my love of eating. It sucks, but I have to plan it out. God dammit.
Anyhow, here is what stuck with me. The fitness fanatic told this woman that food is body fuel. It isn’t supposed to taste good. It isn’t supposed to be a focus in your life. You take in food like car would take in gas. You put in premium gas, and your car will thank you for it. And in return, you’ll have that car running perfectly for as long as it possibly can.
I thought “Wow…”
After announcing my search for delicious ramen in Tokyo, I received a text from my dear friend Karen, whose son, Peter (who has a fabulous blog of his own, here) (seriously pete how did you score that web address I want to buy it from you and my name isn’t even Pete) is in culinary school. Like, real culinary school. I shudder to think of how scared I’d be in that…
Karen sent me a link to Ivan Ramen. A NY-born chef named Ivan Orkin who opened up a little (apparently awesome) ramen place of his own in Tokyo. Holy shit. That’s like selling ice to an Eskimo that really fucking knows its ice and you come from a background that wouldn’t necessarily know anything at all about ice but somehow you do and somehow you sold that ice to that Eskimo and that Eskimo was happy as shit. Except this ice salesman does have an excellent culinary background in ice ah I no longer know what I’m talking about let’s go on…
Welp. That’s Ivan Ramen. And as you can see, there’s no line out the door because this bitch. is. closed.
45 minutes it took to get there! What a bummer. At least we went prepared — laptop with Family Guy for the car ride. Yeah. Should have called.
So. We asked the driver to take us to another spot. And I think….I *think*….he took our American asses to some sort of…”ramen lite”. I compared it to eating Pho on La Cienega and eating Pho on Western in Los Angeles. It’s good pho, sure. But it’s missing that gritty, home cooked, B-grade-in-the-window awesomeness that only Western / downtown LA has to offer.
Meh. Day 2 was average. But at the end of the day, you’re still in Tokyo. And you’re still eating ramen.
Let’s do this…
Thanks, google webpage translator.
Pretty intrigued by the Sky Hawk, though.
First of all, HELLO! Second of all, MERRY CHRISTMAS!
Let’s not even discuss how long it’s been since my last post. Actually, you should be happy. This means we are true friends!! Really. All my true friends know that sometimes Chrissy might go MIA (PS, I was about to use AWOL and when I randomly asked John what AWOL stood for again, he said, “well, absent without leave. But you probably mean MIA in whatever you’re trying to say.” God he’s a smug bastard I hate him.) Anyhow yes Chrissy might go MIA from time to time but it’s in our unwritten friend code that when I do return, we act like nothing happened, or give maybe one small comment before moving on (“you gave birth?”) (“aah sorry about your dog”) I make up for it in intense love when I’m there.
So, sorry about your dog, congrats on the baby, glad your new place is coming along nicely.
Anyhow, wake up, new mom! This is ramen:
And this is how ramen makes me feel:
Prease, let’s continue…