Ramen Heads documentary takes viewers inside the world of Japanese noodles

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      While sushi spots have mushroomed across the Lower Mainland over the past few decades, a rapid growth of ramen joints across the Lower Mainland is suggesting that ramen may eventually follow suit if Metro Vancouver can sustain the current rate of expansion.

      Although the proliferation of sushi joints in Vancouver may lead many diners to think that sushi is the Japanese equivalent of sandwiches based on how both hold together various ingredients, sushi has traditionally been reserved for special occasions in Japan. However, it is ramen that is consumed in Japan with a regularity that is on par with how North American chow down on sandwiches. 

      If you want to learn more about ramen or have been wondering why the food staple has drawn such a fervent following, Ramen Heads (which previously screened in Vancouver as part of the Best of Hot Docs series last July) is back for a theatrical run at Vancity Theatre. This documentary offers an insightful look into the world of Japanese noodles that, like many aspects of Japanese culture, has been elevated to the level of art.

      Japan's leading ramen chef Osamu Tomita guides viewers on tour of favourite spots and his own kitchen, as he discusses recipes, flavours, and tricks of the trade. The film also captures him preparing for his restaurant's 10th anniversary, which includes the creation of a once-in-a-lifetime ramen batch with two other ramen chefs.

      The Vancity has eight screenings of the film slated from January 26 to February 7. For full screening details, visit the Vancity Theatre website.  

      Ramen Heads

      Of course, the wise thing to do is to eat before you go, to prevent your growling stomach to disturb neighbouring audience members.

      The ramen shop in closest proximity to Vancity Theatre is Ramenman at 572 Davie Street, which opened last August (in the former location of Juno Japanese Sushi Bistro).

      A Davie Village option is Ramen Koika (1231 Davie Street), which just launched its Hell of Fire soba challenge for those who like their noodles spicy to the extreme.

      Outside the dense cluster of ramen shops down at Denman and Robson streets is a growing group in central downtown: Yah Yah Ya Ramen (570 Robson Street), Jinya (541 Robson Street), Marutama Ra-men (270 Robson Street), and Ramen Gojiro (501 Dunsmuir Street).

      Needless to say, there are plenty of options where you can get your fill before or after the film and, particularly after gaining a greater appreciation for ramen after watching the film, don't be surprised if you see many more popping up in the near future. 

      You can follow Craig Takeuchi on Twitter at @cinecraig or on Facebook