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Publishers WeeklyTold as both a narrative and series of letters to the inventor of instant ramen, Momofuku Ando, American writer and NPR regular Raskin haltingly plots his efforts to meet the billionaire food entrepreneur in the years before his 2007 death. Unfortunately, the fascinating story of the Ramen king is forced to compete with Raskin's women problems, which he thinks Ando can somehow solve. Raskin also takes time out to explain Japanese emphemera like the quirks of language, samurai movies, sushi etiquette and manga. Though he never mails his confessional letters, Raskin does fly to Japan to meet the aging legend, and winds up attending his funeral with thousands of others. Raskin's intentions are noble, but his careening trip through Japanese food culture will likely frustrate readers; on the other hand, it may strike Japanophiles just right, reproducing plenty of the eclectic and affectionate details that stick with travelers.
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