Second Helpings

Oshima Ramen

Oshima Ramen is like a clock set to run very, very slowly. But rather than having minute and second hands tick off its story, it has walls covered with graffiti. Over the years, people have added signatures, declarations of love, crudely reproduced anime characters, pictures of stick figures doing unmentionable things, notes from one ramen lover to another, and long, descending columns of Japanese characters which, since I can't read Japanese, can mean anything that I want them to.

The white paper sheets start at the ceiling and proceed around and down, interspersed here and there with newspaper columns and stories about Oshima Ramen blown up to ten times normal size, Wikipedia entries describing Japanese sodas, and lots of pictures of the strange purple cartoon blob with the moose antlers that appears to be the Oshima Ramen mascot, totem, spirit animal, what have you.

I love that little purple blob. He's like my buddy, my pal — something I look forward to seeing every time I stop in for a bowl of Original Oshima Ramen, a plate of gyoza and a side of the boiled "tasty chicken bits" without which any bowl of Oshima's ramen seems incomplete. I've been coming to this place for five years, as long as I've lived in Denver, and I almost always order the same thing from Noburu Mura's kitchen — sometimes with an oversized bottle of Kirin, sometimes with a calming green tea. And each time, I've watched the walls slowly become more and more covered with the boards bearing the scrawls, doodles and protestations of the Oshima faithful.

I'm pretty sure that when every inch is full, the world is going to end. I'm pretty sure that's when the God of Ramen (as envisioned by Keiji Oshima, who founded the chain in Tokyo after being inspired with quasi-spiritual dreams of world domination, but thus far has only opened this single location outside of Japan) will come back, spitting fire and chopsticks, to smite the heathen ass of anyone he finds with Nissin or Maruchan ramen packets kicking around the backs of their cupboards.

And I'm cool with that. I'm ready. Because when that day comes, me, Mura, the purple moose, and all those who've put their names on the walls will be called up like at the Rapture and brought to Ramen Heaven, where all the noodle bowls are Oshima noodle bowls, and everyone has all the tasty chicken bits they can eat.

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Jason Sheehan
Contact: Jason Sheehan