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Anyone who loves ramen will get to learn the difference between Tokyo style, street and what makes a perfect bowl delicious. Masamoto Ueda is a ramen master in John Daschbach‘s documentary Come Back Anytime, and this title is perfect to reflect his attitude and love for the craft. It’s tough to find an operation that’s 100% authentic.
Even in other cities worldwide, not many cooks know the importance in why their noodles should be served thick or thin. This man is the owner/operator of Bizentei, a shop located roughly between Shinjuku, Bunkyo and Chiyoda City (municipalities of Tokyo). It’s not too far off the beaten path, and he gets his regular customers and the occasional newcomer.
Sadly, he’s closed up shop since he’s retired, but for the nostalgia and flavours presented in this work, I’m sure many people hope someone else will take up the mantle. All that’s needed is knowledge of what he puts in the broth!
Ueda became a legend in the forty years since he’s been in business, and when he’s not tending to the shop, he’s gardening. Everything he offers in the diner is handpicked by him. From pears to bamboo shoots, he’s very particular. And this documentary is an excellent profile. It doesn’t reveal his cooking secrets, but instead shows just how loved he is by the local neighbourhood.
I’m sad he’s retired, because when I saw this work, I thought of visiting. Although this fact is repeated often, at least the blow won’t be hard for those thinking this operation is still in business and make a trip to Japan for nothing.
At least this documentary successfully captured the essence of coming here. I’m sure many yearning to taste his noodles are mourning. The jazz inspired soundtrack even evokes that feeling. Although it reminds us of Mr. Rogers song, “It’s a beautiful day in this neighbourhood, a beautiful day for a neighbour, would you be mine, could you be mine?”at least we have this work to fondly learn about what he means to the community.
5 Stars out of 5