Waiting in one of the millions of loud, busy lines for one of Japan’s countless bustling ramen joints would never clue you into the experience awaiting inside.
When they call you in to sit, you better be ready – ready to eat, and ready to be silent. If it’s your first time trying authentic Japanese ramen, this won’t be difficult – the intense richness of the flavor will smack you across the face and stun you into silence anyways. But beyond that, you’ll come to realize that quiet is custom: a sign of enjoying the food, a sign of making progress on the food, and most importantly, a sign of respect.
When you eat ramen in Japan, you have a job to do, even if you’re meant to enjoy doing it. You eat in silence, savoring the experience. You eat as soon as its served, so as not to mess with the freshness. And you don’t get up to do anything – yes, that even includes a trip to the bathroom – until you finish. The chef can and probably will be offended.
You don’t want to be the person that taints this sacred experience – so before your ramen venture, here are the 5 things you need to remember about this incredible cuisine:
1. Don’t talk while eating
Talking is actually forbidden while dining on ramen. You won’t see it written down anywhere, because it’s such an old custom that everyone already knows it. The food is the masterpiece at hand, and its master – the chef – requires respect.
2. Start with the broth
Making ramen is a tedious process that requires cooking broths for hours. It’s the real star of the show, and the noodles are a (delicious) vessel to tide you over between bowls. Sip slowly.
3. Slurp loudly
Slurping does two jobs at once: it cools the broths and noodles down for you to eat sooner (and faster), and also lets the chef know how much you’re enjoying their culinary art!
4. Eat fast
Ramen is meant to be eaten fast. Because the noodles continue to cook as they’re in the broth, they shouldn’t sit for too long, and they definitely can’t be made to wait for you to begin eating.
5. Pair with a brew
It’s customary these days to wash your hot bowl of ramen down with a cold bubbly glass of one of Japan’s lagers.
Now you are ready for the art of ramen!