Hot Docs 2017: Our Review of ‘Ramen Heads’

Posted in Festival Coverage, Hot Docs 2017, Movies by - April 27, 2017
Hot Docs 2017: Our Review of ‘Ramen Heads’

Ramen Heads
Made In Japan

Koki Shigeno’s film, part of Hot Docs’ Made In Japan series, follows Osamu Tomita, King of Ramen and a self-described “ramen head.” Tomita, who has all the makings of a very successful chef. He is keenly aware of how to work with rich ingredients to make a perfect bowl of ramen.

Shigeno is clearly impressed with Tomita. The camera follows him very closely as he provides full access to his prep kitchen while sharing every step involved in making his perfect soup. Tomita’s dedication to ramen involves finding the right ingredients to balance the broth’s flavour and making his own noodles. His obsessive and meticulous approach to ramen is what drives him — it is what makes his 10-seat restaurant thrive from early morning to night.

Most of the film revolves around Tomita, his process, and how his staff at the restaurant play a role in its success. Shigeno mixes interviews with Tomita, his apprentices, and family to give us a somewhat rounded picture of Tomita the Ramen King. It is clear ramen is always on Tomita’s mind — he even goes to other ramen restaurants on his days off. The restaurant draws people from all over Japan and abroad; the clientele is very loyal to Tomita.

Shigeno then shifts the rhythm a bit by introducing us to the history of ramen in Japan. Through animations we learn the dish is an evolution of a noodle dish brought over from Japan. There is also a discussion about the different types of ramen: Shio, Shoyu, Miso, and Tonkotsu. This discussion about the evolution of ramen, although not necessary, seems to ‘add more meat’ (pun intended) to the documentary.

Ramen Heads is an enjoyable film about a man obsessed with food. It will certainly please other “ramen heads”. Word of caution, do not watch on an empty stomach.

Ramen Heads screens four times during Hot Docs.

Thu, May 4th, 5:45 PM Scotiabank Theatre 13 – Rush Tickets Only

Fri, May 5th, 10:15 AM TIFF Bell Lightbox 3

Sat, May 6th, 10:45 AM TIFF Bell Lightbox 2 – Rush Tickets Only

Sun, May 7th, 12:00 PM Hart House Theatre


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Heidy has a love of fine art history, films, books, world issues, music and science, leading her to share her adventures on her website ( , and as a contributor at other outlets. She loves sharing the many happenings in Toronto and hopes people will go out and support the arts in any fashion possible.
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