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Monday, July 14, 2014

Rantings of a Ramen Maniac

I think of nothing but ramen.  I sit on park benches and fantasize of ramen.  Chipmunk chipmunk on the tree, who has the tastiest ramen, tell me!  Yes, that's right, I ask a chipmunk I often see in the park for tips on the best ramen.  He's a sprightly old fellow and his ramen knowledge is impeccable, so why shouldn't I ask him? His name is Marshal.

One day Marshal was sitting on a tree branch close by munching on some dried mango.  I was thinking of ramen.  The deep, rich broths mesmerize me.  I can think of nothing else.  I asked Marshal what he thought of Ippudo.  Wait, you don't know of Ippudo?  Well let me tell you.  It's a ramen place that opened in New York years ago.  It's a popular chain in Japan.  The critics and bloggers raved and went on their little diatribes about Japanese ramen and I'm sure they thought they were pretty special.  The lines were atrocious; the waits were appalling.  To this day, some 6 or so years later, the lines are still abysmal.  

Who are these bitches who stand in line for Ippudo after all of these years?  They think they're pretty hot shit.  They think they are "in the know" and take their friends and out-of-town guests there to show how knowledgeable they are.  "Ippudo has incredible 'tonkotsu' ramen that's very popular in Northeast Tokyo!" they say, thinking they're pretty great.  But is Ippudo even that good?  I went there when it first opened and enjoyed it enough but wasn't bowled over.  Now, about 6 years later, I hardly remembered it.

And so I asked Marshal what he thought, and Marshal was like "eh."  But I had to go back, I had to see what all the fuss is still about, I had to see what I thought now.  And so I went.  I went for lunch on a Friday and was able to be seated right when it opened (the lines are for dinner).  I ordered one of their classic 'tonkotsu' ramens.  It came.  It was enjoyable enough.  The broth was pretty good.  I didn't care for the noodles so much.  It was a fine, pretty good ramen.  But it wans't anything special.  

As I was finishing up my bowl I couldn't help notice there was a character across the room taking peeks from behind the newspaper he was holding up.  I'm being watched!  I ducked under the table and stealthily slid across the room, popping up right in front of the clandestine newspaper reader.  I pulled the paper away and who was it but Marshal!

"Marshal, what are you doing here!"

Marshal confessed he too had had to go back to Ippudo and make sure his underwhelmed impressions of Ippudo were not unfounded.

"People love it so much, and I can't understand why. I think it's nothing all that special, so I had to return to convince myself of its mediocrity. And indeed it seems mediocre."

"You crazy son of a bitch!" I laughed.  

We both had a good chuckle and returned to the park to talk ramen.