Friday, January 29, 2010

The New York Times

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Welcome New York Times readers! Nope, that's not me in the above photo, but none other than the Frugal Traveler, Matt Gross. Matt emailed me sometime last year about lending him a hand with an article he was writing, and I jumped at the chance. If there's one thing I love as much as eating ramen, it's introducing people to great ramen shops in Tokyo.

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Well, the article is out online, and in the upcoming January 31st print edition of the NY Times. I expect a bit more traffic here, so I'll drop a little Q&A. Photos are all from the time that Matt and photographer Basil Childers were out in Tokyo with me.

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Why Ramen?
As an American who went to college, I ate my share of 10 for a dollar instant noodles. Not a pleasant memory. When I came to Japan almost 4 years ago, I had the real deal. Handmade noodles, broth that is simmered for days, secret ingredients; this is good stuff. Not only is it good food, but there is a whole "culture" behind it in Japan, with hour long lines, TV shows, and hype for days. I caught the bug, began eating at 3 or 4 new shops a week, and started this site.

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What's up with this blog?
Eating ramen and taking photos are two passions of mine. Back in October of 2008 I started writing up each ramen shop I went to. I was unemployed at the time, and with tons of free time on my hands (and not a lot of cash for expensive meals) I started eating a lot of ramen. Ramen is actually considered a hobby by some people in Japan. I'm one of those people.

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I'm coming to Tokyo, where should I eat ramen? What's the best shop?
That is the number one question I get. Matt and I went to most of my favorite shops, so you can refer to his NY Times article here. But honestly, just browse through some of my posts and look at the pictures. I'm no wordsmith, but luckily if ramen looks great, it usually tastes great. Some of my favorites at the moment are:

Ganko for the experience.
Gogyo for a fun, trendy experience.
Tetsu if you want to wait in a huge line that is totally worth it.
Ivan Ramen for the best noodles around.
Bassanova
is my favorite undiscovered spot... for now!

If you want some other perspectives, check out my buddies and fellow Tokyo ramen lovers Nate's site www.ramenate.com or Keizo's site at www.goramen.com.

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Did you really lose weight eating ramen?
I've lost about 45kg while living in Japan. Yeah, I went from 260lbs to around 170lbs in a couple years. Seriously, cut out sugar, especially refined corn syrup, and you will be on your way to your goal. Just replace sweets with ramen!

Are you bald?
I have a healthy head of curly hair, thank you very much! I just keep it shaved so it doesn't fall into my bowls of noodles.

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I want to come live / work / travel in Japan, help me!
Fell free to email me at macduckston at gmail dot com with any non-ramen related inquiries. I know a bit about teaching English and riding motorcycles.

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Are you going to open a ramen shop or something?
For the time being I'm happy just eating. Check out Keizo's blog to see what life for a ramen shop worker is like. You never know though...

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How can I help your ramen adventures (dot com)?
Suggest shops to me! Every shop that someone recommends gets marked in my Tokyo street atlas and visited at some point.

Have a bowl with me! If you're in Tokyo, I would love to get a bowl of ramen with you, as long as I can fit it into my crazy work schedule. You don't mind long lines, do you?

Comment with your own ramen adventures! Hanging with celebs at Ippudo in New York? Shoulder to shoulder with yakuza gangsters at some little shop in countryside Japan? Concocting your own ramen recipe? Let everyone know!


Thanks again for visiting. You can subscribe over on the left. Oh, Matt just posted the article to twitter, I'd better post this!