Tampopo: Special Ramen (Noodle)

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Tampopo is a Japanese comedy and if you are a fan of food movies, this is the best among all. Tampopo is about food. But besides food, it’s also about a pair of truck drivers that stop at a small local ramen shop to get some grub. After getting into a fight with one of the other patrons, Goro (the main truck driver) wakes up in Tampopo’s house (the owner of the Ramen shop). She asks him what he thinks of her noodles (I swear, not sexual innuendo… okay, maybe), and he says they were pretty terrible. Eventually, this leads him to agree to help her to make a better ramen shop (and better ramen too). The story is about all the things they do to make her ramen better. Think of Rocky, but instead of Sylvester Stallone you have someone training to make ramen.

Like many good films, it has comedy, it has romance, and it even has some action… but most importantly, it has food, delicious, tasty, food. The film charts Tampopo’s eventual mastery of the art of ramen (Chinese noodles–a Japanese fast-food craze roughly akin to pizza in the U.S.). Special Ramen is a type of noodle which is a blend of sex, food, and comedy.

Recipe of Special Ramen Noodle:



  • 2 pounds of pork bones (I used neck and leg bones, pre-cut by a butcher)
  • 2 pounds chicken or duck wings, each bone sawed in 2 or so pieces
  • 3 Japanese long onions, a bunch of spring onions or a leek or 2, roughly chopped
  • Half a head of garlic, each clove cut in half
  • Konbu
  • 1 Knob ginger, cut in 2-3 pieces
  • Salt
  • Enough water to cover all ingredients with a generous clearance


  • 3 pounds pork shoulder
  • 1 cup soy sauce
  • 1/2 cup sake
  • 1/2 cup mirin
  • 1 knob ginger, finely sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 bunch green onion, chopped


  • Negi (Japanese onion), sliced diagonally
  • Menma (available at Asian markets)
  • Nori
  • Chuka soba (Chinese-style noodles)
  • Sesame oil
  • Soy sauce


Step1:For Broth:
Place bones in a pot of water, bring to a boil and cook for 1-2 minutes. Drain and discard the water before rinsing bones under a cold tap.

Combine bones with other ingredients and bring to a light simmer (never a boil, or the soup with cloud), keeping going, uncovered, for about seven hours. You will probably need to add a little water to keep your 1-2 inch buffer of water above the bones and other ingredients. Once it’s done, strain it as much as possible, and either use it, keep it on the low fire for a day of running your ramen shop, or cool and refrigerate or freeze it.

Step2: For Pork:

Brown the pork all over before simmering it over medium-low heat in a mixture of all the other ingredients for 1.5 hours. Let it cool. For classic ramen chasu, all you have to do is let it cool a bit and thinly slice it (about 4mm). The braising liquid is great reserved.


Boil some water.
Heat bowls and put a few tablespoons of soy sauce

Dice the pork and quickly stir-fry it with the sliced negi.
Meanwhile put the noodles into the boiling water for about 2 minutes and drain.

Ladle the broth into the bowls, followed by noodles and the negi/pork mixture. Add menma on the side and finish off with a drop of sesame oil over the pork. Done.

For more classic shoyu ramen, combine the soy in the bowls with broth, add noodles, serve with a strip of nori, thinly sliced pork, negi, menma and any other toppings you desire.

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