Thursday, September 10, 2009


Ramen is a lovely two syllable word. I wish I loved it as much as I love movies about people who love it. To me, it's a big bowl of salt, MSG, and pork oil, and my inner cardiologist shakes his big round head no. I override my inner cardiologist all the time when it comes to other oily, salty, MSG-y foods so I have to conclude I'm just not hip to the Ramen groove. And I'm sure I'm not alone. There's got to be others who don't carry a special set of Ramen chopsticks in their hearts. We'll form a support group. Humans Indifferent To Ramen. HITR.

I'm almost positive Haruki Marukami numbers among our ranks. Almost all his male characters eat up a storm. The women don't eat or cook as much. They mostly drink coffee or liquor and smoke cigarettes. The male characters often cook too - mostly Western food. They boil spaghetti and whip up omelettes and toss salads and assemble sandwiches. They eat at french restaurants and they also eat japanese fast food like curry and eel over rice. However, I do not believe any Murakami character has ever eaten a bowl of ramen. Am I wrong? Feel free to correct me. If a Murakami character has eaten a bowl of ramen then I will consider actually eating a bowl of ramen as well.

Anyhows, when others get ramen attacks, you have to go along for the ride. Like this Sunday at like 9pm when Santouka is closed and Ramenya is close to closing. So, Chabuya it was. After parking, I was struck by how nice it is to see people lined up in a row eating. I'll always admire a view like this. It looks like they're planning something important. A new world order. But no, they're just eating. Eating's important too.

organic shabu2

Chabuya feels easy going. No one's going to hassle you here. There were some solo diners slurping to their heart's content and few small groups steaming their happy faces.

chabuya ext

Of the major Japanese beers Sapporo is my least favorite but it was the only one Chabuya carries in large. Again, my American buy in bulk mentality trumps my love for Kirin and Asahi Super Fly.

The classic. You know. Salt. MSG. Pork. Oil. Noodles that have those fun wavy kinks in them. Ramen noodles they're called. Dig in ramen lovers. It looks pretty good.

I had the salad bowl with ramen noodles. It comes with a creamy dressing because what Japanese salad can be eaten without some type of creamy dressing? No-salad, that's the kind of japanese salad that can be eaten sans cream.

This was pretty good. Nice and refreshing. It's something I can see a Murakami character eating. I just can't see a Murakami character diving into an actual bowl of soup ramen. But like I say, prove me wrong and I slurp the curly noodle too.

salad bowl
Chabuya Tokyo Noodle Bar on Urbanspoon
Chabuya Tokyo Noodle Bar in Los Angeles


  1. haha..always enjoy getting the large sapporo to share :)

  2. rav2: share?! oh no my friends. both those mugs are for me. haha. jk

  3. I can't remember a Murakami character eating ramen, but don't you think ramen shops are very Murakami-esque? Like Hopper paintings, but...Japanese.

    Anyway, I love ramen and your post has me craving some. I have a soft spot in my heart for the ramen-ya I used to frequent when I lived in Japan, the only place in the tiny city to find fatty, warm porkiness in a bowl for less than 1000 yen. Mmm...

  4. ramen tis delicious yjs. if you slurp it real fast, it'll whiplash your face. i want some ramen now...

    do you eat cup of noodle? just wondering.

  5. That's a good-looking salad as far as salads go.

  6. Delcoma: I concur heartily. Ramen shops are Murakamiesque. It draws some characters and they're so simple. I do love the mood of a ramen establishment.

    I want to love ramen. Maybe one day I will. Maybe I need to go to ramen-ya in Japan. I for sure need to go to Japan to see the fish market and stay one night at a love hotel (in a hazmat suit) and go to a department store to buy a square watermelon. I can't wait!! : )

    bagnatic: i love being whipped in the face by noodles. pho noodles, chinese soup noodles, korean kalgooksou and naeng myun noodles. and yet... ramen... i dunno. yes, i have eaten cup o' noodle and i used to be obsessed with saporo ichiban the number one instant noodle in Japan in the 80s. Yet real authentic pork bone roasted ramen does not call to me. Weird right?

    weezer: girl that was no salad. it was a ramen disguised as a salad. it fooled me though and that's all the matters. I ate it down to the ground and then I was like why do Japanese eat such small portions. hehehe. It was actually pretty generous.

  7. mmmmm, The Wind-Up Ramen Chronicle.

  8. Lydia: Clever! The skinning alive scene from Wind up bird chron haunts me!!! Does it not freak you out just thinking about it? He's got a scary mind.

  9. Norwegian Wood, page 123.

    Catch a whiff of this:

  10. I have a particular soft spot for Chabuya too, particularly that warm-weather perfect cold noodle dish with the, yes, *creamy* sesame-peanutty dressing.

  11. FN: Leave it to a student to ferret out the ramen reference from a somewhat prolific writer! I must know your methodology. Did you close your eyes and think ramen/Murakami and this image popped up in your head or did you do the flip and scan? Either way I'm SUPER IMPRESSED and I will eat a bowl now and blog about it. But first I verify the citation. hehehe. *high five Paris dweller*

    HC: It is kind of a perfect summer noodle salad. But you know we koreans have a creamy peanutty soup noodle - cold soup noodle - kong kuk that really refreshes on a hot summer day. and we also have naeng myun and bibim naeng myun so there are many summer noodles i need to eat this summer before it's over!

  12. Ok, so truth be told - I just kinda made that up...... I do love Murakami though, even when his characters sit in a dark cave somewhere for 4 chapters.....

  13. mmm, skin. crackly fatty pork skin, crispy chicken skin ... there was an Oprah about overeating and this lady's fave meal was chicken skin sandwich between buttered bread. anyway. yea! that skinning chapter was crazy! me love that book a lot.

  14. FN: You trickster! I love Murakami too. ESPECIALLY when hsi characters are sitting in dark caves or chasing down an elusive sheep. He has such a wild imagination.

    Lydia: Please never mention the Oprah word again, ever. Chicken skin sandwich on buttered bread sounds scary/good. I don't like chicken skin actually. It's a little too dried mummy like for me. It's not my favorite Murakami book but it's a good one for sure.