From Publishers Weekly
This funny and idiosyncratic Japanese-fast-food memoir and quasi-spiritual autobiography from NPR commentator Raskin contains at its core, despite its oddball title, a deeply human story. The author grew up on Long Island and attended Wharton business school after college, which led to an internship in Japan and a life-long connection with the country. Over the years, Raskin also got involved with a number of women, without maintaining fidelity or forming a permanent attachment. Relocation to the West Coast and numerous Internet hookups eventually led to therapy and a fellowship, where he began to accept his sexual compulsivity and met the mentor who recommended finding some form of Higher Power. Raskin's unorthodox choice of Momofuku Ando, the nonagenarian inventor of instant ramen and Nissin Food Products chairman, led to several futile attempts to contact and meet him. The result is a painfully humane and hilariously candid journey of self-discovery and self-acceptance. At first, the book's intentions aren't explicit, the structure is near confusing, and the narrator's crisis feels shallow. But the various strands eventually weave together into a satisfying whole that becomes a quirky, unique memoir. (June)
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Approaching 40 and still single, Raskin decides he needs help to figure out why he is incapable of being faithful in romantic relationships. He joins a self-help group and, guided by his mentor, begins to write a series of letters exploring his past failures. The man he chooses to address the letters to is Momofuku Ando, the creator of instant ramen noodles, who built an extremely successful empire after losing everything. Raskin’s personal journey takes him to Japan several times, as he tries to cut through endless red tape in order to meet his idol. Along the way, Raskin’s passion for Japanese food takes him to exclusive sushi restaurants with forbidding owners and a ramen restaurant that is known for the perilous nature of its cuisine. Raskin finds his answer in Ando’s philosophy and realizes that in order to quell his demons he is going to have to face them and reassess how he looks at his life. Mixing humor and raw honesty, Raskin’s introspective journey is inspiring and entertaining. --Kristine Huntley