What got me to sit down for a long read (although I'd only planned to browse through it casually) was that it opens up like a quest story: the quest for a then-English tutor living in Japan, to find a master (shi fu) to teach him the secrets arts of making ramen. Then the usual hurdles he and his growing team faced as they first opened up the Momofuku Noodle Bar... But then-- bam. They're successful and famous. (It happens so fast, but I guess that's real life for you.) Because they'd started cooking the things they liked, and not what they were expected to cook, as a Japanese restaurant.
This is exactly the type of cuisine I want to try my hand at: strongly Asian-influenced but infused and delivered with that American attitude. It inspired me to start writing down ingredients to buy, so I can surprise my Chinese boyfriend with how great I am. I want to see his eyes pop open wide with amazement, and make his tastebuds sing. And that's exactly the thing about this book: it hints at culinary alchemy, like if you just follow the recipe and put this and this together, and though it looks simple enough, you'll get something unexpected and magical.
BUT this book isn't for the beginner like me, it's more for the already proficient home cooks looking to break out of their comfort zones. So this makes me curse my ineptitude in the kitchen. Plus a lot of pork products aren't easily available where I live. :( I will, however, try the famous ginger scallion sauce, which looks simple enough. And you know what's better than this book? (or at least, a good supplement) Blogs about this book. Like one reviewer said, this is like the Julia Child of Asian cooking. And I found a couple of Julie and Julia's on the Internet. Their entries are more beginner-friendly, and the photos are beautiful. I am SO going to try the Milk Bar, and the Crack Pie... Gaahr I want a pork bun right now. Gotta love food writing (on blogs) that gets you reaching for your spatula.