Reel Asian Film Festival 2018 Review: RAMEN SHOP (Singapore/Japan/France 2018) ***1/2

Ramen Shop Poster
A young man who is curious about his deceased parents’ past takes a food journey to Singapore where he uncovers more than just delicious meals.


Eric Khoo

The third film of Singaporean director Eric Khoo named after noodles (after MEE POK MAN and WANTON SOUP) RAMEN SHOP shows Khoo at his sappiest and most melodramatic.  Despite this flaw, RAMEN SHOP still shows the director’s brilliance especially when he meticulously examines both sides of the Singapore-Japan relationship.  

Not many westerners are aware that the Japanese did far worse than the Nazis in torturing their enemies especially during the Japanese Occupation in Singapore during WWII.  The film sees a young Japanese, Masato (Takumi Saito) travelling to Singapore to discover his roots and to make peace with his grandmother (Beatrice Chien).  This is achieved with the help of his comical uncle (Mark Lee) through the fine-tuning of a gourmet dish – bak-kut-teh.  

This is Singapore as it really is, as depicted by Khoo in all his movies where the Chinese speak ‘Singlish’ and not perfect English with a western accent as in CRAZY RICH ASIANS and where the citizens live in cramped single or double roomed flats and not in mansions holding extensive parties.  

Khoo is Singapore’s film pioneer and his films have won awards the world over including at Cannes.  This is the chance for Reel Asian fans to watch a quality film made by a top-notch Singapore director.