Food & Drink Oct 30, 2008 at 4:00 am

A (Delicious) Transnational Argument Against Authenticity


It's "tonkotsu" ramen not "tonkatsu". If restaurants do not want to be judge by being authentic, then they shouldn't use the authentic names for their dishes and use English.
Judging by the comments attracted by Stranger reviews, Japanese foodies are the most obnoxious group of culinary fans.
@Gloria-Japanese food stands in a category of its own. It deserves to be served only by Japanese. Although, I suppose Pho is the same way. Give me a Vietnamese please.
Because Japanese food is steeped in such tradition it should only be served by those w/ LOTS of training. Some sushi chefs go to school for 10 F-ing yrs to learn how to pickle rice!!!
kaname is not new, it's over a year old.
I love Boom Noodle, but they're opening a restaurant in downtown Bellevue—so I can't love them anymore. The same goes for Blue C. Whores.
Oh please, if you're so hooked on the idea of food being authentic to its culture of origin, then that's like saying the only good hamburgers are made by Ronald McDonald. Get over it and appreciate the fact that we live in a place where we have so many amazing dining options - then go out and try them before you slam them, duh!
Not sure if this restaurant fits in the 'ramen' category, but 'In The Bowl' on capitol hill has the best Pan-Asian noodle selections around. And with their hole in the wall kitchen style, I would call them 'authentic'.
i've tasted ramen from japan - all i want is food that tastes like it's supposed to (authentic) i really don't care who makes it - ESPECIALLY if if the restaurants are stating they make authentic whatever food.

i tried boom noodles - it's no where close to being authentic ramen.
Unless a food is served in the city where it was invented, with all the authentic odors that permeate the air and the correct nitrogen/oxygen balance that normalizes olfactory function so one can correct evaluate the flavor of the dish people shouldn't even bother to cook it. Only dishes invented in a given city should be prepared and eaten there. Any trying to export cuisine should be executed for cultural larceny.
Thanks, Kiley. People who harp about "authenticity" are the some of the most irritating people ever. I agree, who cares. As long as it's good and I don't regret spending money on the food/experience... I'm satisfied. Asian food connoisseurs seem especially worried about this... who the fuck cares. Samurai Noodle is good for one purpose, Boom Noodle is good for another. Both can coexist in the same city. Shit.
mrt -- I've eaten at most of those places. The restaurants have it spelled correctly (TONKOTSU). I'm guessing it's an overzealous editor or spell-checker, or possibly the author that replaced the O with an A.
So if Japanese food should only be served by Japanese, and say, French cuisine by the French, then I say Obnoxiously pretentious food should only be served by Seattle-ites.
That certain food should be prepared only by individuals of the race supposedly associated with that cuisine's origin is impossible on a number of levels, not to mention that to hold the notion is discriminatory and elitist. It is like saying people should not speak languages other than their first, and artists should not produce work that represents anything but what they have literally experienced. As a side note, Japanese cuisine is amazing in its ability to inspire such cultural-existential exploration and dialogue.
The only decent place for ramen anywhere near here is in Vancouver BC -- Kintaro ramen is the real deal folks! The line is out the door at nearly all meal times. Their ramen is buttery, always perfectly cooked, and their broth (miso, shoyu or shio) are delicious. It's on Denman right near the corner of Robson, and it's totally worth it. Finish up with a Beard Papa cream puff just up the street (which, weirdly enough, are only $1.75 Canadian, when they cost $2.25 US here at Uwajimaya...go figure!)
I don't thin it's fair to judge Fu-lin based off the WORST ramen on the menu Seafood ramen, Try the Tonkotsu Charsiu Ramen or their specialty, the Szechwan ramen!

Samurai noodle is full of MSG and run by WHITE NERDS! No Japanese ramen chefs the few times i've been there. Also, they MICROWAVED Their noodles! WTF!? I wanted to like this place, but the price ($15 for a bowl with extras?) and fake atmosphere keep me away, a quick look on yelp shoes a lot of similar reviews..
Tonkotsu = simmered pork.
Tonkatsu = breaded, fried pork cutlet.
Two things:

The pork needs to be made from pork belly.. not the horribly dry piece of pig butt people have been using so far.

Shoyu ramen should be $3, not $10. Seriously... that price is ridiculous.

Want good ramen? Go to Vancouver. Seattle, stick to pho.
"Judging by the comments attracted by Stranger reviews, Japanese foodies are the most obnoxious group of culinary fans."

They're an obnoxious hybrid of anime fans and food-channel foodies.

"@Gloria-Japanese food stands in a category of its own. It deserves to be served only by Japanese."

Right, how utterly proving of her point.
I don't know how you could list Izakaya restaurants and leave out Wann Izakaya on 2nd ave south of belltown. It has the best selection of Shochu I've seen in Seattle, and has some of the best executed dishes. The Kobe tongue steak, is excellent, as are their fish egg stuffed Capelin. You need to really like seafood to appreciate that second one.
Because Wann dosen't serve ramen, smart guy.
Why the binary? Food can be judged on at least two levels: it can be yummy (i.e. "pleasing to my personal tastes") even if it isn't authentic, while I have had some very "authentic" food that really didn't do it for me.

If I find a server of a national cuisine whose food I really enjoy, I will still really enjoy it regardless of whether it is served exactly the same as in its country of origin.

Authenticity is nice, and it can be a real treat to immerse in a cultural dining experience at a place that really does it up "like back home".

Cultural essence is a tricky thing, though. The reason why Japanese folk make the most authentic Japanese food is presumably that they have spent the most time immersed in the culture. I am curious, those of you who are sticklers for such things: how many of you have spent much time immersed in Japanese culture? If not, how much of the "authentic" cultural experience are you actually getting? And those of you who weren't raised in Japan - what qualifies you to judge the "authenticity" of Japanese cuisine such that you can claim that only a Japanese person could possibly grok it well enough to cook it right?
So true, Breklor, and lol @ Chaosium's assessment. :p

Seriously, people who go abroad for a little while and then come back and claim to know everything about the food from wherever they went drive me crazy. I find it hard to believe that the cuisine in some place is so uniform that you can instantly say that a variant found in the US or Canada is "unauthentic" and doesn't exist at all in the country of origin. And anyway, when cultures mix it often adds an interesting dimension to doesn't have to take away from it.
Oh people. Food is food. As a Japanese-American, I'm happy to see people of every color take on the challenge of creating delicious Japanese cuisine. It's not an easy task, so if ANYONE can do it well, I commend them. It's a new day, people. Get over your prejudices.
Before I returned to Hawaii where I grew up (Oct.), I would've strongly disagreed with you haole boy. But I don't now. You're right about Samurai.

I was so disappointed with the dishwater crap in Honolulu, supposedly the king of ramen joints. There, ramen is as ubiquitous as cockroaches, geckos and tiny black ants all over your leftover rice and mochi. But it's not necessarily as good as it could be. I tried all kinds too.

You're the only reviewer who included Fu Lin, a local secret. Bravo for you. I like their ramen though, the thin, tender pork looked weird to me but was so tender I forgave it for its similarity to a slab of my ass.
Can't y'all just agree that there is a hedonistic dualism between the history of and the present enjoyment of a dish? While the article is somewhat (unfairly, I think) disparaging of many readers' appreciation of the history behind ramen, there is also something to be said about taking a dish and twisting it to make it your own. The problem occurs, I believe, in how the dish is represented. Most of the time, restaurants tend to market themselves within a specific cultural niche which carries certain expectations. When the diner's experience is different, sometimes blame for a disliked dish may fairly be laid upon a lack of adhering to tradition.
Good God what a bunch of snobs. I'd bet half the folks responding, grew up with Tuna Casserole Tuesdays, and after few hours of the food network are self proclaimed "foodies". Don't be a food nazi, if it tastes good it tastes good.
Really- Ramen in seattle is just basically bad. Don't try to fight it - it just is. Making good raman broth takes time and actual training in cooking. Some of the places in this article use package broth mixes. If you find a place you like eat there. Who cares - we all know it's still bad.
Some of the best Chinese food I ever had was cooked by a Jewish chef I worked with at an Italian restaurant.

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