Bottom-up food: making rāmen a gourmet food in Tokyo

This article introduces the Japanese concept of kodawari—meaning obession and a detailed personal aesthetic—as an analytical category to think about the process by which everyday foods are valorized as gourmet. I show that the kodawari of chefs and consumers influence each other and combine to create an aesthetic appreciation of rāmen noodles, elevating it from its inexpensive background to an object of gourmet desire in contemporary Japan. Kodawari is an individual experience, and chefs develop their own techniques to make their rāmen bowls stand out. Likewise, consumers learn to appreciate the personal touches of chefs and shops, while at the same time developing their own complex sensorial appreciation for rāmen from their individual vantage point. Based on ethnographic fieldwork in rāmen shops in Tokyo with chefs and aficionados, this article shows how their efforts result in the valorization of an everyday food item.
Food and Foodways


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Citation Formats
S. Fukutomi, “Bottom-up food: making rāmen a gourmet food in Tokyo,” Food and Foodways, pp. 65–89, 2014, Accessed: 00, 2021. [Online]. Available: