Wednesday, October 2, 2013
Today we get some Vitamin D! Central Park has a little fun for everyone. There are wide expanses of lovely green grasses and walking trails throughout the park. You can rent a bike or get a pedicab or horse drawn carriage for a leisurely ride under shady trees. We walk as those bikes, cabs and carriages are not allowed along the footpaths that wind through parts of the park, such as around the lake.
Our son leaves work in time to meet us for the evening performance of Spider-Man Turn Off The Dark at Foxwoods Theatre. There have been some serious accidents with the actors as it’s a physically demanding musical. We bought rush tickets for about half price in the morning. My considerate son gave me some earplugs as those seats will be in front of the speakers! It isn’t bad at all. We sit in the front row, just a yard away from the stage. I love it when the actors stand a foot away from the edge of the stage as they speak or sing! In one scene, the men belt out a boisterous song as they lean over the edge. We couldn’t take pictures or videos during the performance or I would have been able to show you a photo of one of the actors giving my son a fist bump during the song!
Our son’s girlfriend meets us for dinner at Ippudo, a Japanese restaurant known for it’s signature “Tonkotsu” ramen. You might say that ramen is Japan’s “soul food.” There are two locations and we are at the Westside location. It’s their American flagship. In the basement is where the hand-pulled noodles are made for both locations. It’s also where they test new dishes. Ippudo’s Founder and President, Shigemi Kawahara, “The Ramen King,” brought his complete staff in from Japan with him. They can be seen around the restaurant in their more colorful garb. The 61 year-old Kawahara is in town to personally demonstrate his latest vision of “The Universe in a Bowl”. Mr. Kawahara has been in town all week and just finished a full day of work, which is rare that he works so hard these days. It all began about 35 years ago, when young Shigemi was at a crossroads. Should he continue on track as an actor or should he hone his skills as a chef? Even though his family was not in the food service business, he chose food! It was after he bought a bar that noodles entered his life. At the time, ramen was a working man’s dish. It was a greasy food from simple origins. Shigemi’s bar must have been a nice one, as single women would frequent it. He began hearing comments that lit up a lightbulb in his brain. He kept getting requests for ramen that wasn’t greasy. He took that idea and ran with it! Sixty restaurants later, Kawahara decided to open his first restaurant outside of Japan, in midtown Manhattan in 2008. It was a rousing success and other locations followed – Singapore, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Australia, Malaysia, etc.
I ask our server if I may meet the Ramen King. She in turn brings over a manager who says he will see if that can be. The Operations Director comes over and explains that Mr. Karahawa has been recovering from a long day and may not look his best. I don’t mind, so he nods and leads the way. As we walk, he tells me that “Ramen King” is not a self-proclaimed title, that it was given him by others. We enter the room and when Mr. Kawahara bows, I bow. (I hope that is acceptable. I don’t know Japanese etiquette, but that’s what I’ve seen Chinese do.) With the help of the Director, we exchange a few pleasantries. I hand my iPhone over and a quick photo is taken. On the way back, the Director mentions that he is considering opening an Ippudo in Houston. Lovely!