Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Ramenate Sells Out? Or, Welcome Lucky Peach Readers! ラーメネイトが裏切り者?ようこそ、百福の読者達!

If this is your first time to Ramenate, welcome! If you're a long time reader, welcome back! It's been a while since the blog has been updated, but some exciting ramen-related news has come down the pike. If you're one of the newcomers, you probably already know what I'm talking about. An exciting new publication is hitting the newsstands, and between its covers you can find 174 pages of text and pictures devoted to that most slurpable noodle - ramen.

Lucky Peach, a new quarterly magazine brought to you by cooking impresario David Chang, food writer Peter Meehan, and the team at McSweeney's led by editor Chris Ying is on sale today. The concept is the total unpacking of a single topic from all the kaleidoscopic dimensions imaginable in a single issue. For the inaugural issue, it's all about ramen, fitting given the origins of Chang's culinary empire at the Momofuku Noodle Bar.

I'm not even sure where or how to begin talking up the contents of this mag - Mock-up posters of ramen legends like Ramen Jirô's Yamada Takumi and Taishôken's Yamagishi Kazuo? The NY Times' Ruth Reichl doing instant ramen reviews? An overview of the secret ramen stylings of New Orleans? A profile of Tokyo ramenista Ivan Orkin? Anthony Bourdain, David Chang, and Wylie Dufresne engaged in massive shit talking? Or perhaps a 5-page guide to the ins and outs of two dozen regional ramen varieties, as penned by a certain Ramen Nate? As the Chicago Tribune puts it, it is a "powerhouse line-up of food porn."

Yep, Ramenate has sold out, writing on ramen for the culture industry when they came knocking. I've probably taken some shots at Chang and co. in the past for turning ramen into a fine food for the downtown set, but the reality is, the dude has probably done more than any other individual to raise ramen's profile in NY and nationwide. Plus, anyone making the pilgrimage to Ramen Jirô to suck down a bowl deserves props, period. I feel lucky to be part of such a bitchin' line up, and I'm happy to have the chance to drop some much needed ramen knowledge on the collective bellies of the USA.

I think the mag is gonna be a big hit, what with that list of names as arranged in a piece of textual media crafted with the high end design that your hipster ass has come to expect from the like of McSweeney's. Lucky Peach has gotten press in the WSJ, Huffington Post, SF GATE, etc, etc, with no doubt more to come. It's also going to be released soon as an interactive iPad app for digital reading, for those of you who understand how that stuff works.

But, if you've already got yer grubby mitts on a copy, you already knew all that. So here's what this blog, Ramenate, is all about. Back in 2008, I moved from NY to Tokyo to do a few years of research on modern Japanese literature. The school I was attached to, Waseda University, happened to be ensconced among one of the highest concentrations of ramen shops in Tokyo, and a friend dared me to eat at them all. I started the blog to chronicle my conquests, and it kept growing from there, with hundreds of bowls being bagged before I moved back stateside last fall.

So, if this is your first time at Ramenate, take a visual stroll through my old postings - you might want to start with this post, which details some favorite bowls on the occasion of the blog being featured in Matt Gross' NY Times article last year. Or you can just click on the highly recommended tag and start scrolling. Just be ready to start drooling.

Updates have been slow recently, but I'm hoping to pick up the pace a bit and post up some of my last bowls from Japan, as well as other assorted ramen tidbits, and perhaps even some reviews of stateside noodles. So, stay tuned, "put me in your RSS feed," and if the pace of posting doesn't whet your noodle whistle, check out the blogs of my ramen-loving buddies in the sidebar. If you want to get in touch, catch me at So, take a bite of that Lucky Peach and don't stop slurping!