An exclusive Independent readers' offer: New Year's resolutions even you can keep

To visit a total stranger in hospital and keep telling her you hardly recognise her

Noodles, gongs and skyscrapers

Forget the stories about being arrested for chewing gum in the street, says Jeremy Atiyah. Singapore, more Chinese than China itself, is relaxed, clean and intoxicating

Dressing down for dinner

I'VE JUST been slurping a bowl of noodle soup in Singapore's China Town. It was either going to be that or a Singapore Sling at the Raffles Hotel, but in the end the idea of having to shave and get into a jacket and tie at this time of night was an unacceptable price to pay.

Words: c-store, n.

THE SENSITIVE should continue to avoid the minefield that is The Grocer magazine. Paul Baxter, commercial director of the Alldays chain, not only sells such groceries as Pot Noodles but asserts: "the c-store sector is constantly evolving and competition is increasing".

The Essay: Green and peasant land

We watch the same TV shows as the Americans, drive the same cars as the Japanese, but when it comes to eating, we yearn for authenticity. Why? Ben Rogers opens our special issue by examining the changing face of British food. Illustrations by Toby Morison

Is it worth it?Dress and go

This all-in-one designer garment promises to be all things to all women. Susannah Conway is unconvinced

Travel: French connection - More than just a case of `Bonjour Vietnam'

If the joy of noodles with everything and warm beer is starting to fade, there's a cafe in Hoi An that does a great `bifteck'...

Bites: Noodles with everything ... Caroline Stacey rounds up other Wagamama wannabes

Tampopo 16 Albert Square, Manchester (0161-819 1966). Mon-Sat noon-11pm, Sun noon-10pm. This year-old Manchester noodle bar is named after the Japanese film about the search for the perfect noodle soup. In the minimalist mould, with bench seating at long tables, and only occasional splashes of colour, it has no-booking and no-smoking policies. The menu extends beyond the Nippon rip-off noodle norm to start with salads from Thailand, Vietnam and Indonesia, then main dishes, mainly ramen noodle soups or pan-fried noodles, but with extra treats, such as Thai vegetable curry, for around pounds 5.

Restaurants: Turning Japanese

The noodle bar explosion continues: now Leeds, too, loves the men with the ramen. Photographs by John Angerson

FOOD & DRINK: A FRESH APPROACH

Vietnamese cuisine is healthy, supremely delicious - and here at last. Michael Bateman samples it with sighs of pleasure

Who eats where: Your usual table?: HANIF KUREISHI AUTHOR

When I first left university I ate the same thing every day. I lived on toast, pasta and Heinz tomato soup, which seemed like a brilliant solution, as eating was such a bore and a complete waste of time. As I've got older I have accepted the fact that if you have to eat, you may as well make the most of it. I have become quite civilised about the whole thing.

Places: Fujiyama

THE FIRST great thing about Fujiyama is that it's five minutes walk from Brixton tube. The second is that the food is superb. This unpretentious Japanese noodle restaurant, round the corner from local mecca, Dog Star, offers two large sitting areas plus a sit-on-the-floor section, set against a simple warm red interior. Expect laidback, friendly service with superb traditional dishes (ramen, miso, bento etc.) and reasonable prices (pounds 5.50 for most mains). Oh, and don't be surprised if the local "town crier" trots in wearing full garb, ringing his bell and chatting to unsuspecting diners. This is Brixton, after all.

Clubs: Highlights

SUGAR SHACK

Pop: Dangerously close to a good gig

Royal Trux Highbury Garage, London

Fast Track: Fastfood

Forget munching on a burger - noodle slurping is the new way to snack
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