Nov 24, '09

Master, soup first or noodles first?

If you love Japanese culture, you must have seen or heard of an eighties movie called “Tampopo”, Japanese comedy about love, life and ramen. The movie starts with a younger truck driver Gun (Ken Watanabe) reading a book about ramen to an older truck driver Goro (Tsutomu Yamazaki). The younger truck driver imagines himself in the story and asks the noodles’ master, who studied noodles for 40 years if soup or noodles should be eaten first. The noodles “sensei” answers :

“First observe the whole bowl. Savour the aromas. Jewels of fat glittering on the surface. Shinachiku roots shining. Seaweed slowly sinking. Spring onions floating. Concentrate on the pork slices. They play a key role but stay modestly hidden. First, caress the surface with the tips of the chopsticks. To express affection. Then poke the pork. Caress it with the tips of the chopsticks. Gently pick it up and dip it in the soup on the right of the bowl. What is important here is to apologize to the pork by saying “See you soon”

Kouyru
Kouyru

When you enter Kouyru, a casual (probably they are all casual) noodle place close to a bridge of Tokyo Express Line in Ginza, the very first thing you have to do is to buy “a ticket” from a vending machine located close to the entry.

Kouyru
Kouyru

Then, after sitting at the counter, you fill in a form, how you would like your noodles to be cooked. They can be al dente or soft, the soup can be spicier or less spicy, you can have Welsh onions, or not. Then you give the form to the waiter and in a few minutes, you have a hot bowl of rich noodles soup with a slice of pork lazily floating on the top. All you have to do now is to slurp the noodles, a common way of eating in Japan, which I haven’t figured out yet…And as I usually do everything opposite, first I ate the pork, then I ate the noodles and then the soup, and, I didn’t say “see you soon” to the pork…Next time, noodles master from the Tampopo movie…

Subscribe below to receive the latest newsletter and the up-and-coming culinary journeys.