Ever noticed Japanese schoolgirls giggling uncontrollably as you try to sit quietly and enjoy a bit of lunch? Well, let me guess: you were eating ramen, right? And let me guess again: you were looking foolish because you didn’t know how to eat Japan’s national dish? Well, fear not, as my Idiot’s Guide will allow you to shut up those schoolgirls for good!
Upon arrival in Japan, trying out some of the famous food from Japanese cuisine may be one of your priorities. Sushi, tempura, takoyaki, horse-flesh flavoured ice cream…the Japanese love them all! However, perhaps the most popular dish from the Land of the Rising Sun is Ramen, a noodle dish that is served in a bowl of broth, occasionally with egg, and coated in other ingredients, such as seaweed or wasabi. Ramen, therefore, looks good and tastes good – but how the Hell can you eat it like a BOSS and not look like a tourist noob?
Here are a few simple tips to eating ramen that will help everybody and spare them from the embarrassment of being giggled at by Japanese schoolgirls on their lunch break:
Slurp quickly. A bowl of ramen should be consumed in less than 5 minutes. Ramen is considered a fast food and can be eaten on the move. Don’t let the noodles sit around, as not only will their taste disappear, but Japanese onlookers will wonder what on Earth you’re waiting for! You’re certainly no BOSS!
Slurp loudly. Similar to wine-tasting, where you must get a big mouthful of wine to sample to full flavour, you must suck in that air ferociously when slurping ramen! Western visitors to Japan may be somewhat unwilling to make dirty noises at the dinner table (Chinese people, however, need no encouragement…) but if you’re not making the full sound, you’re not slurping correctly! You’re still an idiot!
Slurp repeatedly. Even when you’ve finished the ramen noodles (and let’s face it, almost everybody finishes the noodles before the broth) don’t be afraid to pick the bowl up with your hands and drink the broth. It’s perfectly acceptable, even at the dinner table, and in fact, it is part of Japanese custom. A bowl of ramen needs slurping repeatedly to get the full whammy. Waste not, want not!
Ramen should be always served and eaten piping hot, as the temperature is big part of appeal. So to put it simply, EAT IT WHILE IT’S HOT! No dilly-dallying! It is also recommended to eat ramen as you mix the toppings and ingredients (wasabi, garlic, nori) little by little, so you can enjoy the different flavours at different times yet in one single bowl of ramen. Some noobs just mix everything at the beginning and stuff their faces, but that is completely missing the point – and not the action of a BOSS!