Come Back Anytime: Where Everybody Knows Your Name

Come Back Anytime?may take place in a small Japanese restaurant but its having a big impact.

Directed by John Daschbach, Come Back Anytime is a documentary about legendary ramen master Masamoto Ueda. For over forty years, Ueda has been perfecting and serving Tokyo-style ramen in his little establishment. Beloved by his neighbourhood and patrons, Ueda has created more than a delicious dish. He?s created a loving community.

Come Back Anytime?is more than just a tale about fine Japanese cuisine. It?s the story of one man?s desire to take one thing and do it well. Masamoto Ueda is a man of simple tastes and desires. His goal is merely to do what he loves and do it to the best of his ability. What?s more, Ueda amazingly simple keeps things simple. Where is some restaurants seek to overwhelm you with choice, Ueda instead simply does what he does. Focusing almost exclusively on Tokyo-style ramen, his small restaurant has made a name for itself by perfecting the delicacy.?

And he is very good at it.

With endless footage of him creating his delicious dishes, Daschbach highlights the beauty of Ueda?s creative impulses. Although the viewer cannot taste the food onscreen, Anytime activates the senses. From the subtle spice of the soup to the sliced scallions and tofu, everything about Ueda?s meals seems delightful and delicious. They are created with love and it shows in every bowl.

With a deep passion for his artistry and customers, Ueda seems like a fascinating man who works tirelessly. However, he too has a past. As we learn some of the stories that brought him to this location, we realize that he was very much a man in need of a second chance. Weighed down by gambling debts, his life was quickly spiraling out of control until an act of grace helped him to survive. Underneath the stunning food, there is a powerful redemption story that undergirds the restaurant?s atmosphere.

Looking for a new beginning, ramen came to the rescue.

However, Come Back Anytime is not merely the tale of the chef. Instead, the real story of Anytime seems to be the restaurant itself. Although far from flashy?he does prefer simple, after all?this quaint little eatery is less a place that you visit and more a place where you stay. Even though its guests are paying customers, they are also family. In some ways, the restaurant feels reminiscent of the famed ?80s sitcom Cheers where, every night, customers enter because this is where they feel safe. 

Like Cheers, this a place where everyone knows your name. 

There?s a beauty about this little establishment where community is created by deliciousness but sustained by safety and care. For example, one customer states that, as soon as she enters the building, her favourite drink awaits her at her table. Ueda knows his customers and they know him. To them, this is a place of sanctuary and recognition. While it may seem strange, it?s this sense of community that keeps them coming back, almost as much as the food itself. (Actually, it?s entirely possible that Ueda?s own redemption story helps play into this atmosphere as well. Like his patrons, he too desperately needed the opportunity to be supported during troubled times.)

As a result, the charm of Come Back Anytime stems beyond the man and his meals. While it is always incredible to see a craftsman create something that blesses others, Anytime emphasizes the warmth of an business that brings joy to all who walk through its door. In this way, Ueda has made something far more beautiful than the very best of meals. He?s made a home for anyone who chooses to enter. 

And it makes the viewer want to visist there so that he might know your name as well.

Come Back Anytime is available in theatres on Friday, July 22nd, 2022.

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