Traveling on west Tokyo’s Seibu Ikebukuro railway line — much like slurping a bowl of classic tonkotsu (pork bone) ramen — is a deeply nostalgic experience for me. I called more than one of its stations “home” during the first several years I spent in Japan after moving here from Philadelphia.

As a young cook in Philly, the thing I obsessed over more than anything else was ramen. While instant ramen is common in the U.S., the real stuff was hard to get even as recently as six years ago. Those rare bowls contained such explosive flavor — such control and complexity — that it frankly blew my mind.

Unable to view this article?

This could be due to a conflict with your ad-blocking or security software.

Please add japantimes.co.jp and piano.io to your list of allowed sites.

If this does not resolve the issue or you are unable to add the domains to your allowlist, please see out this support page.

We humbly apologize for the inconvenience.

In a time of both misinformation and too much information, quality journalism is more crucial than ever.
By subscribing, you can help us get the story right.