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The Ramen King and I: How the Inventor of Instant Noodles Fixed My Love…

by Andy Raskin

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16414143,468 (3.5)2
"The Ramen King and I" is Raskin's memoir about how despair and a series of bizarre adventures at Japanese restaurants led him to confront the truth of his romantic past, and how billionaire Momofuku Ando, the inventor of instant ramen, became his unlikely spiritual guide.
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Showing 1-5 of 14 (next | show all)
interesting read about japan and addiction.
  kevix | Dec 28, 2020 |
Not what i thought it was about. the parts about the ramen stuff were fun, worthy of an article in a magazine, the rest was about of selfish guy with low self esteem who decides he is a sex addict. The connection is barely tenuous. ( )
  Rdra1962 | Aug 1, 2018 |
I'm not sure I'll keep this book. Raskin is an amusing writer, and I picked up a bunch of details about eating etiquette in a Japanese restaurant. The philosophy spouted by Ando is interesting, Raskins obsession with Ando is weirdly interesting and I kind of like reading a book which seems to be autobiographical but maybe isn't. However, I didn't really like him in the first part of the book when he was sleeping around, lying and cheating. Sure, he says he's changed, but I know a sexaholic and I find it hard to believe someone will really change their behavior.
BTW, the unnamed group meeting Raskin attends is likely Sexaholics Anonymous. ( )
  juniperSun | Dec 15, 2015 |
Raskin, for me, wasn't a particularly likeable companion as he goes on a journey of self-discovery that weaves skillfully back and forth in time. What Raskin tries to discover is why he's so habitually unfaithful to his many girlfriends. The sayings and life of Momofuku Ando, the world renowned (ok, Asian renowned) inventor of instant ramen, become Raskin's higher power on his road to recovery.

But a funny thing happened in the final part of the book. Oh, I consistently enjoyed reading about Ando, and I found the asides on Japanese matters (business etiquette, food-themed manga, puns, sushi, museums devoted to ramen or gyoza, and samurai movies) fascinating and often funny. Surprisingly a revelation about Ando's life proves relevant to Raskin's plight. And Ando's Zen like sayings go from seemingly silly business platitudes or personal eccentricities to something profound and useful. They become another example of the transforming wisdom sometimes found in the unlikely places of popular culture or the lives of the eccentric.

Raskin has started an advice column using the sayings and life of Ando. That may be worth a look, and I definitely would like to see him do more Japanese related material. ( )
  RandyStafford | Feb 9, 2012 |
Read it in one sitting -- Raskin manages to write about a broad array of compelling topics (for me): Japanese culture (obviously, from the title, including restaurants and food), business magazine writing, relationships, and something akin to "setting his moral compass". The structure and style of the book is interesting in alternating chapters that reflect parallel story lines (kind of like "Everything is Illuminated" but done internally rather than with a second narrator -- maybe "Soul Moutain" had alternating chapters using a second, internal voice too?) -- and this trope gets even more condensed when there's even dialogue between the two.Okay, I'm making this out to be much crazier and far more difficult to understand or read than it is -- Raskin's writing style (despite the strange sounding structure I described) is straightforward. And since I mentioned "Everything Is Illuminated", I thought it had a forced, juvenile style over the last half/third of the book; Soul Mountain was too annoying to finish, largely due to it's convoluted organization.Raskin does not suffer from pretentious words, phrases, or references. He's big into Japanese culture broadly -- and there's plenty of reference to manga comics, finer points of sushi, and samurai films like Musashi or those of Kurosawa -- but there's also American references, to the Brady Bunch, American neighborhoods (Dolores Park in SF, Upper West Side in NYC, etc.).....I don't know where I'm going with this.Similar books.....well, I think there's a spectrum of the "adult male growing up" genre that this book seems to take some pieces of. "Iron & Silk" and, actually, the other Mark Salzman books are superficially similar (white American finds inspiration in Asia). I hesitate to mention something akin to the "Frog King" by Adam Davies, but "Ramen King and I" is much bigger in scope and depth, and therefore more compelling for me. What I really hesitate to compare it to is "Average American Male" or "American Psycho", which are the extremities of this genre and people who really liked those may find Raskin's work too tame. Palahniuk? Yeah, his books have some genre similarities, but I'd still say Palahniuk is closer to those last two examples than he is to Raskin. Alain de Botton -- maybe if you combined "How Proust Can Change Your Life" (hilarious the first read, less so in retrospect) with "On Love" (or whatever his other sappy books are) with "Consolations of Philosophy" (which didn't hold my interest) -- maybe then you'd get closer than any of the prior examples. ( )
  tintinintibet | Apr 18, 2011 |
Showing 1-5 of 14 (next | show all)
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Epigraph
"It is said that real human nature reveals itself under extreme conditions. As I starved in prison, I realized that eating was one of the highest forms of human activity. Perhaps I have to go back this far to trace the origins of the development of instant noodles, though I did not have the slightest idea of Chikin [sic] Ramen at the time."

-- Momofuku Ando, "Magic Noodles: The Story of the Invention of Instant Ramen"
Dedication
For my family, with thanks to Carol Wasserman
First words
There used to be a Japanese TV show in which two young hosts -- a male and a female -- would scream, "I wanna ____!"
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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"The Ramen King and I" is Raskin's memoir about how despair and a series of bizarre adventures at Japanese restaurants led him to confront the truth of his romantic past, and how billionaire Momofuku Ando, the inventor of instant ramen, became his unlikely spiritual guide.

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Andy Raskin is a LibraryThing Author, an author who lists their personal library on LibraryThing.

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