Osamu Tomita in Ramen Heads


When it comes to a choice meal, you might not necessarily think of something created from three days’ worth of ingredients, stewed from scraps, and filled with noodles the chef had to jump up-and-down to create. And yet, when we talk Ramen, that’s exactly what’s required to bring some of the very best bowls of it to life.

RAMEN HEADS is a documentary dedicated to the broth-and-noodle concoction that has brought so much joy to so many – in its home country of Japan, and indeed, around the world. The film focuses on three of the greatest ramen chefs in Japan, with Osamu Tomita at the forefront. The film is an exploration of their artistry and likewise their obsession: the constant quest for ways to create something new, something better…maybe even both!

RAMEN HEADS is about passion, and how that passion can turn something simple into something truly special. The world over, there are scores of foodies who will go to great lengths for great ramen. They will line-up at all hours, travel great distances, sacrifice a lot of time if little money. All in the name of something comforting, satisfying, and delightful. But only the best is worth chasing…only the best feels right.

In the name of this, our heroes the ramen chefs bring passion of their own. Passion to turn comically ordinary ingredients into something truly extraordinary.

Watching these master chefs work their trade, you get an appreciation for the artistry and alchemy that goes into ramen. So much is calculated, so many steps considered…and yet, so much of it seems so rustic and improvised. How does one find the sweet spot? Perhaps that’s for the masters to know, and us to wonder.

There’s ritual to it all. Those who stew it and those who slurp it all come to expect certain details. Without these details, the dish won’t do. And yet, within that communion is space for expression, experimentation, and surprise. That’s what RAMEN HEADS wants to explore – the tiny inflections that make the song sound new.

When RAMEN HEADS begins, we are told that the hope behind the habit of silent slurping of great ramen is that the food is so delicious, it leaves the diner speechless. In that same vein, the best compliment to the directors of the film, is how the depiction of these culinary artists will instantly make even the most sated viewer crave a bowl.

Leave room for ramen when you see this film, and leave time to get some when it’s over.


RAMEN HEADS plays at Hot Docs 2017 on Thursday, May 4th, 5:45pm at The Scotiabank Theatre. It plays again on Friday, May 5th, 10:15am at TIFF Bell Lightbox.It plays again on Saturday, May 6th, 10:45am at TIFF Bell Lightbox It then plays Hart House once more on Sunday May 7th – 12pm. (official website)