Produced by Fong Cheng Tan,
Junxiang Huang, Yutaka Tachibana
Screenplay by Fong Cheng Tan, Kim Hoh Wong
Directed by Eric Khoo
Starring Takumi Saito, Jeanette Aw,
Seiko Matsuda, Mark Lee, Tsuyoshi Ihara,
Tetsuya Bessho, Beatrice Chien
Slight but sweet film that should appeal to foodies.
The film follows a young man with a rather dysfunctional relationship with his father, with whom he works at a ramen noodle shop.
After tragedy strikes, the young man heads to Singapore to learn more about his parents and his extended family.
He also wants to learn about the fabled pork rib soup and how to make this delicacy.
His guide for this journey is a very pretty woman with whom the young man has been trading spices by mail.
He learns of recipes, cultural and family history and grows in the process.
Takumi Saitoh is very appealing in the lead (despite a very odd, choppy montage near the beginning in which he blows off…a date? A friend? It’s hard to tell and really off-putting).
And Seiko Matsuda is absolutely luminous as the lovely guide. I really loved the way the film completely blew off the huge age difference between the two to allow some real sparks to fly.
Once the young man learns some long-buried family secrets, he begins to pursue some closure.
There are some moments here that are very emotional and satisfying.
But the main reason to watch Ramen Shop, frankly, is for the food porn. There are some stunning, mouth-watering dishes on display here and all within the context of the story.
Having said that, the flashbacks of his parents’ courtship are quite moving at times, and the final shot is very romantic and satisfying.
But the food!
The brief culinary history of Singapore is fascinating, as is the likewise brief history of the animosity between Singapore and Japan.
The score is a bit too much (á la Hallmark Channel) and there are some minor missteps along the way.
But Ramen Shop is a lovely film overall and easily recommended.
And, man, I need to find me some Singapore Chili Crab!!
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