For those not already familiar with ramen, this seemingly simple yet complex bowl of noodles in soup could be considered Japan’s national dish, with devotees constantly in search of the perfect bowl. Typically a rich and salty pork broth with slightly chewy ramen noodles and an assortment of toppings, this is a sublime hug-from-the-inside dish for those cooler days.
Tampopo is the perfect film for ramen newbies and the ultimate must see for ramen lovers who have an obsession with food. Affectionately called a “ramen western” this absurd, funny, food-porn film served up as comedy could only to come out of Japan. Forget the terrible 2008 Hollywood remake and watch the original first.
Directed and written by Juzo Itami, this 1985 Japanese comedy tells the story of truck driver, Gorō and his side kick, Gun (a very young Ken Watanabe, see clip below) who help meek and passive Tampopo (meaning dandelion in Japanese) turn around her failing ramen shop to become a fearless ramen master. Scattered throughout the film are amuse-bouche vignettes that look at our relationship with food from the quirky to the outright bizarre.
But first, here’s a scene on how to eat ramen from a sensei – possibly the first example of the foodie gaze, long before Instagram. If this doesn’t make you want to eat a steaming bowl of hot ramen on a cold day, I don’t know what will!
Food on Film: Episode 1
Tampopo (1985) Directed and written by Juzo Itami
Good for those who enjoy
Food porn with a side of comedy.
Scene to look out for
The heavy petting sketch including an egg yolk and a live shrimp – you’ve been warned.
We rate it
5 out of 5
Where to find it
More Food on Film Episodes
Episode 8: Soul Food (USA
Episode 7: Chocolat (USA)
Episode 6: Eat Drink Man Woman (Taiwan)
Episode 5: The Lunch Box (India)
Episode 4: That Sugar Film (Australia)
Episode 3: Big Night
Episode 2: Babette’s Feast (Denmark)