One guess on the best movie to pair with a beautiful bowl of ramen. Photo Courtesy Ramen Gaijin

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The Ultimate Guide to Pairing Food Films with Restaurant Takeout Meals

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Reporting live from the second March of quarantine, where you may be experiencing a bout of television streaming fatigue (symptoms include, but aren’t limited to, spending more time aimlessly browsing than watching). Thankfully, the solution lies in making movie night the exciting night it once was, as opposed to the everyday stuck-at-home thing it has become.

How? With restaurants — and strategically planned, experience-enhancing takeout.

“Life imitates art far more than art imitates life,” Oscar Wilde once said, and it is in that vein that you should consider the following list of film recommendations, filled with some of our favorite food moments and scenes. This is by no means a curated selection of the best food movies out there. It is merely a glimpse at movies that have provided pure escapism in a dire time, and ones that you’ll definitely want to watch with food.


 New Orleans cuisine:

The Princess and the Frog

 

THE PLOTIn Disney’s last hand-drawn animated feature, a waitress in New Orleans is saving money to open her dream restaurant — but then she meets a frog prince.
THE TAKEOUT PAIRING: Gumbo with a dash of Tabasco and a side of honey-drizzled, sugar-powdered beignets from your local New Orleans-inspired restaurant.
BEST FOOD SCENE: When a young Tiana and her father make a pot of gumbo and share it with their neighbors.

WHERE TO WATCH: Netflix and Disney +.


Ramen:

Tampopo

 

THE PLOT: A wild spaghetti ramen western interspersed with comedic vignettes that have nothing to do with the main storyline, Tampopo primarily follows a Clint Eastwood-type truck driver, as he helps a noodle soup owner in her quest to make the perfect bowl of ramen.

THE TAKEOUT PAIRING: A bowl of ramen from your go-to noodle joint (no, instant ramen really won’t do).
BEST FOOD SCENE: Five minutes in, a sensei initiates a young man on how to properly eat ramen, like caressing the bowl and apologizing to the pork (for fun, do follow his advice in real time). But in between the ramen training montages and kinky food shots (yes, you read that right), Tampopo boasts some incredible food moments.
WHERE TO WATCH: HBO Max.

A Korean feast:

Always Be My Maybe

THE PLOT: Comedians Ali Wong and Randall Park play estranged childhood best friends Sasha and Marcus, who reconnect as adults and attempt to revive their old flame.
THE TAKEOUT PAIRING: A bubbling pot of kimchi jjigae, or any type of stew that tastes like home.
BEST FOOD SCENE: Though there’s some great scenes around home-cooked meals (see above) and dim sum, the winner is the dinner scene at Maximal, a completely over-the-top and fictional restaurant, which may feature Keanu Reeves’ finest cameo appearance.

SPECIAL SHOUTOUT TO: Two special movies that helped pave the way for Asian-American representation on screen — Joy Luck Club (see: how not to conduct oneself at a Chinese dinner table — looking at you, Rich) and Crazy Rich Asians (watch: the hawker center scene or Michelle Yeoh folding dumplings).

WHERE TO WATCH: Netflix.

Sushi:

Jiro Dreams of Sushi

THE PLOT: An intimate portrait of the world’s greatest sushi chef and his son, who power a three-Michelin-star sushi bar inside a Tokyo subway.
THE TAKEOUT PAIRING: Now’s the time to splurge on a boxed set of high-quality sushi, sashimi, or maki rolls.

BEST FOOD SCENE: The sequence in which food critic Masuhiro Yamamoto compares the sushi omakase to a concerto — cue Mozart — as it unfolds.

WHERE TO WATCH: Amazon Prime Video.

Italian:

Big Night

THE PLOT: Tony Shalhoub and Stanley Tucci play Italian immigrant brothers Primo and Secondo, who go all out on a one-night feast to save their struggling yet proudly Italian restaurant, in 1950s New Jersey.
THE TAKEOUT PAIRING: Primo and Secondo were ahead of their time — champion their cause and patronize an Italian restaurant bent on regionality (read: If you don’t recognize the pasta shape names, you’re in the right place).
BEST FOOD SCENE: The entire dinner party, broken down into courses, is one long mouth-watering reverie. But the climax comes when the timpano, an elaborate baked pasta dish, is revealed.
SPECIAL SHOUTOUT TO: The other side of that coin — pure Italian-American red sauce deliciousness in the shape of family meals and Clemenza’s meatballs in The Godfather and the prison dinner in Goodfellas.
WHERE TO WATCH: Amazon Prime Video.

Bento box:

My Neighbor Totoro

THE PLOT: This acclaimed Hayao Miyazaki film tells the story of two sisters, Satsuki and Mei, who move to the Japanese countryside and befriend furry local spirits.
THE TAKEOUT PAIRING: A well-garnished bento box. Bonus points if you get anything with corn.

BEST FOOD SCENE: When Satsuki makes breakfast and carefully pieces together bento boxes for her family.

SPECIAL SHOUTOUT TO: All the animated food scenes in Studio Ghibli movies, from the herring pie in Kiki’s Delivery Service to the next-level bacon and eggs in Howl’s Moving Castle.
WHERE TO WATCH: HBO Max.

Some very beautiful pastries:

Marie Antoinette

THE PLOT: Sofia Coppola’s highly-stylized retelling of France’s most famous teen queen reign, as she ascends the throne and gets thrown into the gossiping court of Versailles.
THE TAKEOUT PAIRING: The prettiest pastries from your neighborhood bakery.
BEST FOOD SCENE: Marie Antoinette’s shopping spree set to a remix of Bow Wow Wow’s “I Love Candy,” starring a dizzying amount of Ladurée sweets.
SPECIAL SHOUTOUT TO: The titular feast in Babette’s Feast, a spectacular and similarly decadent endeavor featuring caviar, quails in pastry, and a bottle of 1860 Veuve Clicquot.
WHERE TO WATCH: Amazon Prime Video.

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