Please forgive any typos, snafus, illogic, or straw men in this review, because I’m writing this in the back of an ambulance on my way to the hospital. My dog is riding beside me, barking, whilst two uniformed paramedics squirt lemons into my mouth, wipe away my burning tears, and apply ice to my throat. There may be an anti-anaphylactic injection of epinephrine in my immediate future. I have been advised that it would be better to wait until things have calmed down to write my review, but some things are so important they must be communicated immediately, and I don’t want anyone in need of a lunch recommendation to miss this gem.
Ten minutes ago, I was snorting dragonfire and stomping circles around Tsurai Ramen, downtown LA’s newest trendy lunch spot. It’s handy that the restaurant is small, because I was able to grab a handful of ginger off someone’s plate with one hand, while at the same time reaching behind the sushi prep area for a pitcher of lemon-water. The combination didn’t help the razorblades dragging along my throat, but fresh ginger is still delicious. The servers were cooing at me in Japanese, and even though I’m pretty sure they were angry at my behavior it sounded so cute and authentic!
Fifteen minutes ago, I was about to dip into my tureen of twelve-hour-slow-cooked pork ramen with a pair of chopsticks and a shallow plastic spoon that was totally mismatched and unsuited for the task of eating. I could feel the heat coming up from my feast, and my eyes were already watering. Tiny round chili seeds whose name I will never know bobbed in the soup like underwater mines waiting for the approach of my submarine tongue. All I could think about was how awesome it was going to taste. I started inhaling bites, morsels of pork and chilis and green onions, sucking the ramen out of the shallow spoon and down my throat and into my belly in an unending waterfall of goodness. I stopped long enough to take a deep breath, and I could literally feel my digestive tract throbbing. Then I suddenly realized that my life was a lie and everything I have or ever will have is fleeting and ultimately meaningless against the scope of cosmic time, except for love which is boundless and eternal. I sat there, paralyzed with an ineffable combination of absolute angst and absolute bliss. Or maybe it was just the ramen. It’s hard to say for sure.
An hour ago, I was sitting in my apartment, playing fetch with my puppy, smoking my zong, and watching Planet Earth with blankets stapled to the windows to black everything out. My stomach rumbled loud enough that my roommate heard it from the other room, and he screamed out that we should try the new ramen place.
Tsurai Ramen. Come for the heat. Stay for the existential revelations. Get the EpiPen shot for dessert. And ask for Roy as your paramedic. He’s funny and he knows his way around an ice pack.
Owen Wiseman was raised in the Pacific Northwest. He studied philosophy at Pomona College, where he read an unhealthy amount of Nietzsche and Heidegger. He now lives and works in Hollywood. His first graphic novel, Samurai’s Blood, was published in June 2011. Follow him on Twitter at @OGWiseman.