Toshio Yamamoto's earliest memory of ramen goes back to when he was five years old. He was slurping down a bowl of instant noodles at home with his parents when he accidentally flipped it over and burnt himself. "I've been eating instant ramen ever since," he says. By his early elementary school years, Yamamoto had mastered the skill of cooking noodles in a pot, treating himself to a serving of Maruchan whenever hunger struck. It was the beginning of a lifelong passion that would eventually make him a pseudo web celebrity.
Yamamoto is the man behind i-ramen.net, a web site that meticulously chronicles and reviews thousands of different types of ramen from Japan and beyond. After we profiled his web site on Boing Boing, the 49-year old hardware engineer agreed to answer a few questions about his instant ramen obsession.
Yamamoto eats instant noodles for breakfast five days a week — Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays are cup noodle days; on Saturdays and Sundays he eats the kind that comes in plastic packaging. Until recently, Yamamoto was eating instant noodles seven days a week. He recently decided to slow down his pace for logistical reasons. "For one person to chase a single theme over a long period of time is a very special thing," he says. "I feared that, if I continued at that pace, I would get bored."
The rest of his meals are "just normal meals" — lunch at his company's cafeteria, simple dinners at home. "I don't hate ramen shops, but I'm not particularly drawn to them either."
He started the web site in 1995, reviewing ramen from the 80s that he happened to have stored in his pantry. When a Japanese magazine picked it up as fodder, he decided to continue to document his culinary adventures. i-ramen.net is a monster database with over 4,000 distinct ramen reviews — he occasionally revisits the classics to make sure the taste hasn't changed, but for the most part the site consists of new brands and special edition flavors, often from different countries. Over New Years, for example, he flew to Hong Kong and returned with over 100 packets that he's now in the process of reviewing.
Yamamoto also has a YouTube channel. Using Adobe Premiere Elements 4 and some 8mm video skills he acquired as a college student, he created hundreds of video reviews of instant ramen — precise 40-second clips with bouncy music, sound effects, and a voice over that describes the texture, the ingredients, the umami, and ends with a kicker, like "This was altered for American taste buds. It's not something I would ever choose to eat" or "The premium beef paired with ordinary noodles makes it oddly unbalanced." In some of them, you see him adding a hot dog and some cabbage. That's for nutritional balance; also, since hot dogs and cabbage are always readily available, adding those two ingredients consistently removes the possibility of a biased review. For products catered towards Muslims, like instant ramen from Indonesia, he makes sure not to put pork hot dogs inside.
The key to enjoying instant noodles every day is simple: "It's to eat while possessing a feeling of happiness." Yamamoto can conjure up this feeling by reminding himself of the universality of instant ramen. "When I think about all the people even on the opposite end of the globe who are eating instant noodles at the same time as me, it really makes me feel connected beyond borders," he says.
As for his health? So far, he reports no problems whatsoever.
Thumbnail Pic: avlxyz
Janelle Shane trained a recurrent neural network with a data-set of more than 2000 ancient proverbs and asked it to think up its own: “A fox smells it better than a fool’s for a day.”
L.A.-based filmmaker David Lewandowski is back with a new (and much anticipated) video titled, “time for sushi.” I’m not going to pretend I get it but if it touches you as much as it did me, head over to goingtothe.store. That’s where you’ll find memorabilia inspired by his YouTube channel, including a $90,000 chessboard made […]
Fishermen in the North Sea near the Nethelands caught the first two-headed porpoises ever documented. The trawler crew found the animal already dead in its nets. From Deinsea, the journal of the Natural History Museum Rotterdam: “The crew of the fishing vessel thought it would be illegal to keep the dead porpoise and they threw […]
Learning a new language will give your resume an upgrade, sure, but it will also provide a huge cognitive boost for mental tasks outside of translation and conversation. Bilingual brains have been shown to be better at handling multiple concurrent tasks, and gaining fluency in a new tongue is an amazing way to improve memory, […]
If you struggle to get a good night’s rest, consider replacing your pillows before dropping hundreds on a new mattress. You can give your tired neck a break with a 2-pack of memory foam pillows, available now in the Boing Boing Store.Each of these pillows is stuffed with cooling polyurethane foam that molds to your […]
Although flagship smartphones are unlikely to adopt heavy-duty outer casing anytime soon, you can always prepare your device for the outdoors with a beefy case and and an external battery like this Nomad Tile Trackable PowerPack, available in the Boing Boing Store for $119.95.The Nomad Tile can fully recharge an iPhone 7 over three times […]