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The Ramen King and I: How the Inventor of Instant Noodles Fixed My Love Life Hardcover – May 7, 2009


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Gotham (May 7, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1592404448
  • ISBN-13: 978-1592404445
  • Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 6.4 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (44 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,939,968 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

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)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

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

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Customer Reviews

Andy Raskin's writing style immediately draws you into his (life)story, and makes you feel at home in his world.
macgeekgrl
Honestly, I didn't feel sorry for this guy at all; I really don't feel any different about him after finishing this book either.
Kiyo M.
I really enjoyed this book and tried to read it as quickly as I could, stealing time during the day to finish it.
Patricia R. Andersen

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer VINE VOICE on May 11, 2009
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
A book about a man's past relationship woes--in particular, his inability to remain faithful to women--hardly seemed like the kind of book that would interest me. Similarly, before I tried them, blocks of instant noodles w/ foil packets of spices hardly seemed like delicious--or even edible--cuisine. To my surprise, my initial judgment of both was wrong and both are quite appealing.

Raskin turns out to be a charming and skilled narrator. He draws the reader into his story quite skillfully. Before we know much about him, we are reading strangely intimate letters written to Momofuku Ando, the inventor of Instant Ramen. At first, there is no explanation, other than an apparent fascination with Japanese culture, why these letters are being written or why in the world they are addressed to Ando. Discovering the answer to this question is part of the appeal of this book. So, I will not reveal it here.

Raskin goes beyond letter-writing and begins a quest to meet Ando that involves trips to Japan and visits to the Ramen Museum. He achieves just the right balance between his personal memoir, biography of Ando, and fascinating insights into Japanese culture. What the reader is left with is a mixture of ingredients that form an entertaining and appealing whole. As with Ramen, initial impressions may generate misgivings and doubts. But, don't let these misgivings stop you from enjoying this delightful and strangely appealing read.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Randy Stafford VINE VOICE on May 30, 2009
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
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.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By *rose* on June 22, 2009
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Well, there were so many parts of this book I really enjoyed. Very funny and made me laugh.

Other parts, gosh.

Andy, Andy, Andy...he was a very bad boy. VERY bad. And when he was bad, I didn't like him very much. In fact, I wanted very much to throw the book across the room when he repeated AGAIN and AGAIN the same bad behavior. But, he kept getting the girls. Somehow he would keep pulling them in. And that is what Andy did to me; he kept pulling me in. I couldn't stop reading.

I love all things Japanese and I just ate up everything Andy wrote about Japan, the culture and it's people. Oh, and the food! The descriptions and stories around the food were just right!

When I finished reading the book I felt satisfied and pleased that I had read it. It was fun reading about everything Andy did (and had to stop doing) as he moved forward towards redemption.

Well written and frightfully honest. Recommended!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By doctor from the black lagoon on July 1, 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The Ramen King and I is an incredibly absorbing book. The stories are a testament to the phrase, "Truth is stranger than fiction." The intimidating sushi chefs, the initiation processes to graduate from the table to the sushi bar, the ramen noodle slurping rituals, all of this, had me chuckling but also learning about Japanese culture, driving motivations and ultimately about my own personal goals. It is not necessarily a self help book but if you need to understand your own obsession with noodles at the very least as well as about your other possibly more involved fixations, this book may be the soba of our times....
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Katherine Chan TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on May 21, 2009
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
The Ramen King and I is a fun, engaging read, a highly personal memoir about love, sex, and one man's relationship to...Momofuku Ando. In The Ramen King and I, American journalist Andy Raskin recounts how he made instant-ramen inventor Momofuku Ando his spiritual guide - despite never actually having met the man -- while attempting to discover why he sabotages relationships with women. Thoughout the book, Raskin is unable to maintain healthy long-term relationships with the women in his life. He juggles girlfriends on multiple continents and falls in and out of love in the time it takes to boil water for a serving of Nissin Chikin ramen.

Raskin travels to Osaka to visit the Instant Ramen Museum and hopefully meet his hero/quasi-god. Part travelogue, part mystery as he begins to uncover the secrets of Ando's life, part Japanese food porn, and part self-help, The Ramen King and I is an engaging book that made me laugh and cry at the same time. I especially enjoyed Raskin's accounts of his travels in Japan, description of Japanese Culture, and his visits to many restaurants.

I would highly recommend this book as a "fun read" for anyone who loves a little soap opera-esque drama, Japanese Culture, and food porn.
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