What’s your name?
What brought you to Japan and how long have you been there?
I came to Japan in 2006 to get away from the tech world and teach English. Over 11 years now!
What are some of the biggest cultural differences compared to what you’ve experienced back in the U.S.?
Although I’m from a big city (San Francisco), even countryside Japan can be super crowded. The sheer number of people is a trip for me.
Are there any areas of Japan that a newcomer should avoid and has safety ever been a concern for you?
Japan is the safest country I have ever been to, you really have no need for concern. As opposed to avoiding cities, I would say you should seek out somewhere off the tourist map, like the cities of Shikoku or Tohoku.
Of the Japanese that you’ve come across, what is their general perception of Americans?
People tend to hold Americans in very high regard. America is stylish and cool to many. Blame Hollywood!
You are known as the ramen expert in Japan. What exactly IS ramen and when did you discover your love for it?
Ramen is a soup noodle dish. Basically, Chinese-style noodles in a meat based broth. I had a bowl of tonkotsu ramen (pork bone soup) that blew me away, and that started my hunt for great bowls around Japan.
What is necessary for ramen to be exceptional?
A strong impact followed by a smooth, umami-rich aftertaste is what I love most. The Japanese took the Chinese-style ramen and made the soup gourmet. Great shops are spending all of their money on ingredients, and it shows.
Your Youtube channel, Ramen Adventures, showcases your dining at several ramen eateries. What should an out-of-towner expect in terms of service, payment options and accessibility?
Most shops have a ticket machine. If you just want a good bowl, get the upper left option. You can always ask “osusume” which means “recommendation.”
Can someone move around easily and order at restaurants if they spoke no Japanese?
Yes. Just slurp and get out! Ramen is probably the most simple dish in terms of ritual. I’m, serious when I say get out, though. Ramen isn’t a social food. People line up, slurp, and leave.
If you had some friends planning to spend only 24 hours in Japan, what would you suggest that they see or do?
If we are talking Tokyo, then ramen for lunch, hit up a museum, walk around Shibuya, then splurge on a sushi dinner at a top spot followed by drinks in a hotel cocktail bar, high above the city.
Check out some of the tasty ramen dishes at RamenAdventures.com