In Japan, eating ramen is not a leisurely activity.
In Japan, eating ramen is not a leisurely activity: It takes the average diner just 13 minutes to eat an entire bowlful. It’s enough time to enjoy the food, but not enough time for it to get cold. This Thursday, guests at the LUCKYRICE Ramen Slurpfest hosted by Bombay Sapphire East will get a crash course in eating ramen Japanese-style. There will be four different ramen stations and diners will have 13 minutes at each to slurp down the ramen with speed and gusto. Participating restaurants include Hide-Chan Ramen from Japan, Ken’s Ramen from Providence, Rhode Island, Gomaichi Ramen from Honolulu and Crane Ramen from Gainesville, Florida. We chatted with chef Frederick Brown from Crane to get his tips on the best way to eat a whole bowlful of ramen in 13 minutes without sacrificing proper ramen etiquette.
Get close to the bowl and dive in.
“Get yourself and your face over the bowl, so you really get that aroma,” Brown says. “You have to eat it fast. When it gets to you, the broth is hot, the noodles are perfect—that’s when you want to eat it.”
Use both hands.
“I am right-handed, so I hold my chopsticks in my right hand and the spoon in my left and they work in tandem,” he says. “Use the spoon to taste the broth first, see how that is, then dig in with the chopsticks.” Brown recommends scooping up less than a mouthful of noodles and holding them over the spoon as you eat them.
“Get the noodles up to the mouth and slurp. Slurping is absolutely legit when eating ramen. You really want to aerate the noodles,” he says. “It increases how the flavors work in your mouth. I am firmly on the side of the audible slurp.” Once you start slurping, don’t stop. “Using your teeth to cut the noodles off is verboten in Japanese tradition,” Brown says. “Slurp them all in.”
Eat the toppings as you go.
“Personally, I like to spread the toppings out as I make my way through the bowl,” he says. “Usually I get halfway through and go for the egg. I get it in the spoon with broth and take it like a shot.”
Focus on the task at hand.
Though you can take the occasional break to nibble on a nugget of kara-age (fried chicken) or another side dish, eating ramen should be your primary activity. “You’re pretty much just focused on the ramen,” Brown says.
Don’t pick up the bowl (unless you really want to).
When you get to that last bit of broth, take a moment to assess your surroundings. Are you in Japan? Then finish it off with the spoon. But if you’re in the U.S., it’s more acceptable to pick up the bowl and drink it down. “Traditionally in Japan you can’t pick up the bowl,” Brown says. “But in the States, I do it, and if you want to get every last bit of broth, you should do it.”