RAMEN SHOP is a gentle south Asian fusion of foodie porn, with family drama and Asian history the added nutrients. A creation by Singapore filmmaker Eric Khoo and released through Strand, this effortless charmer, featuring a dedicated young ramen chef Masato (Takumi Saito), mixes the joys and tensions of the Singaporean, Chinese, and Japanese cultures and history while firing up viewer appetites for real noodles.
The story follows Masato, who cooks in his family’s small Japanese town restaurant. Orphaned with the death of his Japanese father and motivated by deep needs to discover new recipes, seasonings and his own family history (as a boy he lived in Singapore with his father and Singaporean mother, a food expert), he ventures back to the island nation. In this prosperous southeast Asian haven of great food influenced by its mix of Asian cultures, Masato searches for the recipes his mother left behind and for his grandmother, who, for some reason rejects him yet holds the key to a mysterious past involving the war and old hostilities. With help from food blogger Miki (Japanese pop star Seiko Matsuda) and an obsession with flavors, he cooks up emotionally rich solutions that warm hearts and mollify prejudice.
Delivers an emotionally powerful recipe for forgiveness that viewers will carry away, along with a huge, immediate desire to grab a noodle dish, preferably brothy ramen.
Plenty of food porn here (the close-ups, the “money shots”) and at its most soothing, reassuring and tempting!
History buffs will appreciate the bitter but revelatory detours into war history and the lingering prejudices and memories it unleashes.
For thinkers with appetites, the film is a consideration of the virtues of patience and simplicity.
May be too slow cooking for impatient audiences needing their film bowls hotter and spicier, especially in today’s bustling content market where really good goods get lost in the crowd.