These concise, informative and enjoyable videos are my standard for staying current with Japan’s ramen scene.
I like Ramen Adventures and the occasional ramen post from Strictly Dumpling, but I’ve landed on what I think is the optimal YouTube destination for the latest reviews, info and perspectives on the ramen scene in Japan: 5AM Ramen. I’m surprised I hadn’t found it sooner.
5AM Ramen, along with its standalone website, is hosted by Frank Striegl, a young man with a passion for ramen. He eats hundreds of bowls a year! Beyond his obsession, it’s his communication style I most appreciate.
Frank imparts a lot of useful information in a short timeframe, and in a conversational style. As a former TV newswriter, I know this is an art more than craft. No wasted time, too-long shots (to save editing later) or the filler chit-chat endemic to many YouTubers.
Pieces are well shot and edited, providing tasting commentary covering the flavor profiles and other characteristics in which I’m most interested; they are professionally done, but never appear too slick or stuffy. I’ve learned a lot from watching Frank’s videos, picking up nuances and taking notes for my next Japan trip.
At the start of each segment he reminds us he grew up in Tokyo, with a quick childhood photo adding a personal touch. While most of his pieces are in that megalopolis, he does a good deal of traveling, giving you an on-the-ground experience of regional Japan ramen specialties. I really enjoyed his recent piece on ramen spots in the Hokkaido city of Asahikawa, apparently Japan’s coldest big city.
I had a quick e-chat with Frank who told me that with Japan officially open, he’s been busy and slower to release new videos, but says “there’s plenty of ramen content on the way – in Tokyo but also in places like Fukuoka, Shizuoka, and Kyoto.” No need to wait though, as his existing content is considerable.
As I started watching 5AM Ramen, I discovered Frank also has an international e-commerce business selling instant ramen typically only available in Japan. He also does in-Tokyo ramen tours. Normally a commercial enterprise connected to information content might raise some concern. But at that point I was so respectful of Frank’s videos, I found myself actually interested in placing an order.
This channel is worthy of clicking the YouTube subscribe button! I recommend you take a look.