Here we have the often funny, sometimes amazing, and occasionally baffling story of a womanizing writer and his Michael Moore like quest to met the man who invented instant ramen noodle soup. We learn the story of inventor Momofuku Ando in small bits scattered throughout The Ramen King and I. There is also a lot of information on many food based Manga comic books and deep insights on the meaning of Samurai movies.
But really, the star of The Ramen King and I is Japanese food. From Bento Boxes to Ramen to Sushi we are told about the wonders of all kinds of foods that don’t always sound wonderful at all. Fatty tuna sushi and lard infused ramen soup and countless other odds and ends featuring exotic ingredients. It’s a book that makes you want to find a good Japanese restaurant and try a few things.
As the story progresses we find out that our hero is not just a nerdy foodie on a quest to eat the best ramen or sushi he can find, he is also a horn dog that wants to screw anything that moves. Somewhere along the line of cheating on his many girlfriends with his many one night stands he decides that maybe this is not healthy behavior. So he goes to a Sex Addicts Anonymous meeting and finds a mentor, who tells him to think of someone to stand in for God. Our hero decides that he will pray to Momofuku Ando and write him letters about his life and his many problems with sex, work, family, and friends.
Our hero tells us about the time he spends playing the trombone, flying back and forth to Japan, and how he struggles to keep from having sex with random women on the first date. But these are more like background details for his larger goal of meeting Momofuku Ando. I had never heard of the many comic books he reads about heroic soup chefs and sake brewers, and I had never heard of Momofuku Ando either. But then, I’ve never been a big fan of ramen noodles.
Like all good memoirs, I got the feeling that Andy’s entire life inevitably lead him to worship the great and mysterious Momofuku Ando. The Ramen King and I: How the Inventor of Instant Noodles Fixed My Love Life was a great read.