Book review: ‘The Discovery of Ramen’ by Phil Amara and Oliver Chin

“The Discovery of Ramen” by Phil Amara and Oliver Chin. (Image courtesy of Immedium.)

Fasten your seatbelts, and prepare your taste buds! Authors Phil Amara and Oliver Chin sweep readers off their feet in their newest children’s book, “The Discovery of Ramen,” a whimsical journey through time that takes its characters back to the 19th century to explore the origins of the popular food. For youngsters, adults and noodle enthusiasts alike, this tale is not to be missed.

The saga begins when kids Ethan and Emma follow their noses to a small restaurant where customers are slurping down hot bowls of ramen soup. Wondering what the delicious dish is, they are visited by a red panda named Dao, who whisks them off on an adventure in Asia to learn about its origins. Dao provides the pair with helpful histories and fun facts as they navigate their way through 1880s Japan to the present day. Did you know ramen used to be sold from pushcarts on the streets of Yokohama?

Children will be inspired by the bold, colorful illustrations by Juan Calle and will enjoy picking up details about Asian culture through the book’s exuberant story telling. Ethan and Emma learn that ramen was originally brought to Japan by the Chinese, before it became known in its instant form. By 1990, it was sold with a plethora of toppings, including roast pork, bamboo shoots and scallions. Today, Japan has 35,000 ramen shops. New York’s famed Momofuku restaurant is named after the man who invented the dried variety of the noodles.

Aside from delivering a delightful story, “The Discovery of Ramen” makes its contribution to children’s literature by representing Asian topics, bringing more diversity to the genre. The book educates and informs, while engaging imaginations with its sprightly characters and dynamic descriptions, even providing a glossary of Japanese and Chinese terms. It is the first in the “Asian Hall of Fame” series, highlighting notable contributions out of Asia.

Whatever your age, “The Discovery of Ramen” is an experience to whet your appetite with a subject worth savoring.

Characters Ethan and Emma embark on a journey through Asia to learn about the beloved noodle, ramen. (Image courtesy of Immedium.)

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