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Ramen Heads – Movie Review

Ramen Heads is a documentary about ramen in Japan. As the name implies, it’s about the obsession of both ramen makers and ramen eaters and dives deep into more bowls in more styles than you can possibly imagine. The film focuses on Japan’s number-one ramen master Osamu Tomita, who has won the highest ramen honors 4 years in a row. Unlike other ramen masters, Tomita is happy to expose every part of his process. He reveals the highest-quality ingredients and his constantly evolving approach to cooking the perfect bowl with equal attention to both noodles and broth. Surrounded by apprentices there is still much he insists on doing himself. His shop is so popular he sells tickets ahead of time to decrease the long wait for seats. 

Tomita proclaims, “if you’re not a ramen head yourself, you can’t possibly satisfy other ramen heads.”  and so perhaps not surprisingly, he spends his one day off a week eating ramen on his own and with his familly; next to his bed are ramen magazines and recipes. He’s singularly focused on ramen, not just for his customers but for himself and for his appreciation of ramen in Japanese culture. It is and has been his calling since he had a bowl of ramen that changed his life. After that he became an apprentice to a top ramen master before opening his own shop. Ramen it seems, is so much more than just noodles and broth, it’s truly a way of life. 
As you probably already know, ramen is a big deal in Japan. There are magazines, guidebooks and websites devoted to it. As the films narrator explains, ramen is “cheap, immediate and deeply satisfying”, and in Japan, unlike many other iconic dishes, it allows for great creativity.The film introduces viewers to some of the other top ramen masters in Japan and their individual styles of ramen, briefly explores a ramen festival and offers a quick timeline of the rise of ramen in Japan. All along the way the cinematography will make your mouth water. The soaring and majestic music can seem cheesy at times, but it is the cinematography that cements this film as the ultimate ramen food porn and I warn you, if you decide to see this movie you better make plans to eat ramen afterwards because you will seriously crave it. Check out the trailer below and you’ll see for yourself. 

Ramen Heads plays at the Roxie as part of the SF Indie Film Festival on February 10th and 13th, 2018 in San Francisco. Learn more or buy tickets.