I admit that I’ve always loved “ramen wagons”. Like any other mobile food vending cart, it parks in areas of heavy foot traffic, and has stoves in there so that the owner can make up some fast food to serve his hungry customers. Unlike most other mobile food carts, however, the food is not meant to be taken away, but eaten on the spot. The walls of the wagon fold down to become the table that customers eat at.
Some “ramen enthusiasts” (this is Japan — of course there are “enthusiasts” dedicated to ramen) will tell you that the only true ramen is that which comes from the back of a truck. I won’t go that far, but I will say that I do really enjoy these trucks. There’s something about sitting at the oasis in the middle of the heavy foot traffic in front of the station, warming yourself up with a nice bowl of pork ramen, and chatting away with the other customers, most of whom are.. well-lubricated.. after a night on the town. For some reason, eating at one of these ramen trucks comes with the expectation of joining in whatever conversation is happening around the tables — each truck turns into a sort of “mini party”, so there is almost always some fascinating conversation to be had, such as the following that happened last Friday night:
Drunk Guy #1: So where are you from?
Drew: [usual smart-ass answer] Nerima.
Drunk Guy #1: No, before then.
Drew: [pointing to "Canada" hat] Canada.
Drunk Guy #1: And you’ve been living here for…
Drew: The better part of 5 years now.
Drunk Guy #1: Oh, you must be on a tourist visa then.
Drew: No, I have a job, I work.
Drunk Guy #1: [to Drunk Guy #2] Hey, this guy here is from Canada and he has a job here!
Drunk Guy #2: [comes over] You’re from Canada? That’s great! I know a lot about Canada! I have one thing to tell you, a catchphrase from your home country. Are you ready? [puts his hand on my shoulder, looks me in the eyes] ”Yes we can!”