Lucky Peach #1 and Ivan Ramen

When I heard that David Chang,  the mastermind of Momofuku restaurant,  created a magazine about ramen, I ordered it right away  and awaited my copy of Lucky Peach like a kid waiting for Santa Claus.

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Ramen Tomare

We found a ramen shop named 止 by the side of the road just outside of Niimi in Okayama Prefecture. This single kanji means “stop” in Japanese and reads Tomare, a very short name for a great ramen place and one kanji every one should learn since it’s featured on every stop signs in the country.

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Ajisen: Taipei in the Heart of Kurashiki

I’ve been to Ajisen ramen  shop 4 times in the last month or so, it’s that good!   Ajisen ramen is often on my mind and as I write this, I am wondering when I can go back.  Why is it so good?

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Ajisen ramen in Shanghai

There is a considerable dose of irony in eating ramen in China. Ramen which most people would consider typical Japanese fast food was  introduced from China a long time ago and it’s seem to have been around for enough time that most people forgot it’s origin.  Ramen in contemporary Japan is still refer as ch?ka soba or basically Chinese soba.

It’s now possible to find 86 Ajisen ramen franchises in the city of Shanghai and on my second day in the city, I must have ran into 4 or 5 restaurants so I was intrigued.  How would the journey back to the homeland taste?  I was expecting a carbon copy of a carbon copy but who knows?  Fake watches, fake ramen, let’s find out!

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First night in Shanghai

I doubt this is politically correct, but I left for Shanghai humming the tune “I Like Chinese” by the Monty Python. I briefly studied the city of Shanghai at university when I took an intro to urban studies, so I was always curious to see this city with my own eyes. China is moving  fast and I was becoming afraid that I would not be able to catch a glimpse of Shanghai with it’s old shikumen (traditional 2 or 3 stories buildings) since they are being destroyed at an alarming rate.

I had 2 other reasons to visit Shanghai.  First, the Shanghai Expo 2010 will be over this October and secondly I wanted to eat real Chinese food in China. My conception of Chinese food like almost everybody has been dictated by the worldwide interpretation of original homeland dishes by the ever-growing diaspora of Chinese chefs.

A first meal in a new city or a new country is like a  first kiss.  Would it be something memorable or just a speed bump on the road to unfulfilled desires.

I took the  Maglev train into the center of Shanghai, nothing like a futuristic floating train to put you in the mood.   Finding my hotel on East Jingling Road turned out to be a lot easier than I expected. Shanghai is pretty easy to navigate with its grid design.

From my hotel, my first destination was the  Bund with its view on the hyper-modern Pudong skyline.

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