Ramen is known as one of the best Japanese comfort foods. We bet that you’re here because this dish has captured your heart.
This steaming bowl of noodles is a sensation because of how its broth is made, the toppings, and the whole history that comes with it.
As you’re craving ramen, did you know there’s a proper way to eat this delicacy? Japanese people take these rules seriously. Doing so will also make your experience unforgettable.
To enjoy your delicious delicacy, we will talk about the things you should do and should not do when eating. We hope you can enjoy your next bowl through this guide!
Enjoying Ramen: What to Do
1. Do Slurp Your NoodlesAs for some, proper etiquette is to eat as quietly as we should. But for Japanese people, they won’t mind! In fact, they like it when you slurp your noodles. For them, this is a sign that you enjoy their food a lot. There are a few reasons why slurping is good:
- Slurping the noodles is believed to cool down as you eat them.
- Slurping also helps you savor your noodles and broth. As air comes into your mouth with the broth and noodles, you get the overall taste.
- Slurping is a way to say you’re enjoying your food. It compliments the chef.
2. Do Taste the Broth FirstStart your ramen journey by sipping your broth first. The broth is known to be the heart and soul of any ramen dish. The broth is simmered for hours and even days to balance the flavors. It’s typically made of a few ingredients like: By tasting the broth first, it means paying respect to the time and effort spent on doing it. You’ll be able to appreciate your noodles more when you do this. Mind you, it’s not about gulping everything down quickly. You can start taking a small, single sip. Do you have to slurp? No. A gentle drink will do. Don’t forget to cool the broth down a little bit! You might burn your tongue from the broth’s temperature. As you take a sip, take your time to appreciate the flavors and aromas mixed into it. Is it salty, sweet, porky, or smoky? If you’ve been to many ramen places, what do you think sets your current ramen apart?
3. Do Use ChopsticksStill not used to chopsticks? Well, that’s a skill you need to master. But today, let’s focus on the common etiquette necessary:
- Refrain from pointing your chopsticks at others. That’s considered impolite,
- Never cross your chopsticks. In Japanese culture, it means death; avoid doing it.
- If you’re not using your chopsticks, put them parallel or at the edge of your bowl.
- If you’re sharing dishes, use the opposite end of the utensil to pass it on to someone’s plate.
- Avoid playing with your chopsticks by twirling, tapping, or making noise.
- To avoid being disrespectful, don’t put your chopsticks upright. It’s not a funeral ritual.
4. Do Mix and Customize Your RamenOne thing we love about ramen is how you can mix and match flavors into one. While there are traditional ways to enjoy ramen, you can customize it to suit your preference. Here’s how to know what you want:
NoodlesYour noodles come in different shapes and sizes; some can be straight, curly, thin, thick, or flat.
BrothThere are four types of broth. These are shoyu (soy sauce), shio (salt), miso (soybean paste), and tonkotsu (pork bone).
ProteinOne of our favorites is the set of proteins placed toward your ramen. You can choose if it’s chashu (braised pork), chicken, seafood, or even tofu for vegetarians.
ToppingsHere’s where you can get creative. Do you like green onions, bamboo shoots, or seaweed? Add them. You can also put corn, eggs, or even cheese to your liking. Some popular choices to take your bowl to the next level can include:
- Soy Sauce – To make it even saltier.
- Chili Paste – For a spicy kick.
- Sesame seeds – For a nutty taste.
- Garlic paste – For an extra punch of flavor.
- Bonito Flakes – For a smoky and savory dimension.
- Nori Sheets – If you want an oceanic and satisfying crunch.
- Spices – For a flavor boost.
5. Do Express AppreciationRamen isn’t just a meal; it’s an experience. To let the chef know that the ramen has made your day. You can:
- Say “Arigatou gozaimasu” – It’s a way to say thank you in Japanese.
- Do a smile and a nod – A respectful way of showing appreciation without words.
- Clean your bowl – A sign that says you enjoyed your meal.
- Open praise – “Oishikatta” is a phrase that means ‘it was delicious!’
Enjoying Ramen: What Not to Do
Now that we know the do’s when we eat ramen let’s try to be aware of the don’ts too. This helps you make sure you are respectful and culturally sensitive.
1. Don’t Slurp Too Loudly
There’s a difference between acceptable and too much noise.
Acceptable slurping is just a moderate and controlled sound. Disruptive slurping is eating noodles in a way that’s inconsiderate to others.
How do you find the balance? Learn to control how you slurp. Something not too quiet so it won’t lose its meaning, but not something too loud and annoying.
2. Do Not Leave Leftovers
You might be packed with the amount of serving your ramen bowl has. Is it an excuse not to finish it? Definitely not. If you’re eating ramen right now, pay attention to why you need to finish that bowl:
- A Sign of Respect – Japanese chefs take pride in what they do; if there are leftovers, it means you don’t appreciate their efforts.
- Wasting Food – Japanese culture discourages wasting food.
- Disrupting Balance – Because ramen has a lot of elements, leaving a portion makes it unbalanced. Finish your ramen and eat in harmony until the last bite.
To avoid leftovers, maybe you can ask for a smaller portion. There are a lot of restaurants that offer small to extra-large sizes.
Also, you can share a bowl with your loved ones, so nothing goes to waste. If it’s still too much, try to bring a container with you and bring it home.
3. Don’t Stab or Bite Noodles with Chopsticks
Ramen is a big deal in Japan, so this third etiquette is a must-remember. It’s a disrespect to the chef’s craft.
This is another way that messes up the balance of this dish and how it’s supposed to taste. It means impatience, and you want to get it over with. As part of Japanese culture, they want you to enjoy the food and take your time.
So, how should you handle noodles with chopsticks the right way?
- Use your chopsticks and gently lift a small amount of noodles
- Twirl the noodles and move your wrist back and forth so you don’t have to bite them.
- Take a moment to appreciate everything about the noodles. How does it feel? How does it taste?
4. Don’t Use Excessive Condiments
We know how much you want to get creative in customizing your ramen, but too much condiment is something you shouldn’t do. It can ruin the unique taste of ramen.
A while back, we gave you a glimpse of some toppings you can possibly add. Here are a few pieces of advice you can take to enjoy your ramen according to your liking:
- Try your ramen first without adding anything. After knowing what it tastes like, add the condiments of your choice.
- Start with a little bit. Don’t go ahead and put a lot of toppings. You may not like how it tastes then.
- Control how your ramen tastes by adding condiments slowly.
If you’re going to an authentic ramen restaurant, you might want to ask the chef or some staff for the best condiments to put on your type of ramen.
5. Don’t Complain
We’ve been talking about appreciating the craft and respecting the Japanese people and their culture. Most importantly, don’t be mean or complain about the ramen – that’s a major red flag.
If you need to give your feedback, this is what you need to do:
- Be Polite – Criticizing the chef won’t do you any good. It will hurt the chef’s feelings. Try to be open-minded and appreciate the effort.
- Choose the Right Time – If you want to say something, say it at the end of your meal.
- Be Specific – Instead of generalizing that the whole ramen is bad, you can be specific about your preferences to your chef. If the broth is salty, point it out.
- Start with Gratitude – Point out the things you like first and say something positive before offering what needs to be improved.
- Accept the Response – Chefs have their ways of making ramen; they have their reasons to do so. Listen to their perspective.
Ramen has been part of Japanese culture. Every food this country serves comes with dining customs and meanings we must follow.
Aside from the rules, we hope this guide can make you enjoy your ramen experience better when dining out at ramen restaurants.
If you can’t go to Japan or dine in any ramen place soon, we encourage you to practice these tips and tricks at home. Fresh Farms has instant ramen and the ingredients you might need in your kitchen.
Even at home, you can practice ramen etiquette and have an authentic Japanese delicacy experience!