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‘Ramen Heads’ Takes Viewers on Mouth Watering Journey

Japanese Doc Delves into Specialized World of Gourmet Ramen Makers

In what would be a shoo-in for the “Screen Cuisine” sidebar of the Santa Barbara International Film Festival, this delicious and beautifully-plated Japanese documentary delves into the specialized world of legendary gourmet ramen makers. Director Koki Shigeno goes deep and patiently details the art and savory sights of these Zen-like kitchen artists, such as Osamu Tomita, whose small ramen house elicits ecstatic crowds. Tomita treats the broth and noodles with an exacting but also poetic touch and makes such pronouncements as “emphasis has to be on slurpability.” As the narrator observes, “the ramen chef almost has a spiritual radiance around him.” The process, and some historical back story, appeals to our cultural curiosity, as the savory results onscreen appeal to taste buds. Echoes of the comic foodie classic Tampopo resonate, in terms of the intensity of purpose and high ideals on the Japanese epicurean scene, but here, viewers may be inclined to take note of the places visited and ramen masters chronicled, for a visit when in Japan. It’s that tasty of a doc. (Note: there will be a special ramen pop up shop in between film screenings at the Riviera on Friday and Saturday).

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