This movie was overlooked by me so many times because of the ridiculous U.S. poster for it (not shown). The poster is a shot of Brittany Murphy sitting on the floor in some kind of half way Geisha-like pose with her palms pressed together, in a Kimono, with big spikey red heels standing up in front of her. The tagline reads- "Her romance is on pins and noodles." (Go ahead, take a look). When I finally did watch it, it was a night when I just wanted empty brain candy. When I put it on though, I was delighted. The poster was not an accurate representation of the movie. Don't get me wrong this is no deep intellectual indie. It *is* light and it is charming, it's inspirational and it was a nice surprise. What this movie is not about is a young woman's plight in not being able to find a man. (Like the poster suggested). there are notes of that, but the focus is her journey in finding her song.
Abby moves to Japan to be with her boyfriend who is moving there for business. She uproots her entire life, moves to another country, and shortly after she arrives, he dumps her. Nice right? Abby realized how insane it is to lose her identity to a man and she won't be letting go of it so easily in the future. Jolted back into her own life, she now needs her own focus, so begins the journey. From 2008, The Ramen Girl... (Currently streaming on Neltflix!)
Trust me, you will want to have your own noodle bowl sitting in front of you while you are watching this movie. In the movie, Abby is crafting her art of the noodle bowl. She studies under a meanie chef (who's really a softie underneath) who lives by the cooking philosophy that the ramen bowl is born out of the heart. Whenever I don't have an exact recipe to give someone, I give them a rough outline and tell them they have to use their heart to figure out the rest. This is what I'm going to do for this meal. But in the movie, the food is not all vegan. I'll be really mad at you if your heart tells you to throw a chicken carcass in there! Vegan ingredients only.
To make a basic vegetable broth, saute carrots, onions, and celery for a little bit with some salt, then add a bunch of water and some soy sauce, bring to a boil, then let simmer for a couple of hours. You can use other vegetables in addition, use your heart. For my Asian noodle bowls, I like to add star anise to my broth and a little cinnamon, maybe a little clove. (Asian 5 spice works well too). Also, Lemon juice, mint, garlic and ginger. When you taste your broth and you are satisfied, strain all of the vegetables out, then ladle your broth into a really big bowl. (The bowl is important, you'll desire the ones they are eating out of in the movie, go to your city's chinatown for cool big bowls). Put your japanese noodles in your broth, then comes the best part. The toppings!
Here is what I used for my toppings:
Baked tofu cut in triangles
Carrots sliced very thin
Thinly sliced bok choy
Chopped green onion (light and dark ends)
Shitake mushrooms, sliced