There's nothing like diving into a big, steaming bowl of ramen. But when it comes to this delicious Japanese favorite, there's a right and wrong way to indulge, even if you're having instant ramen out of the packet. Very strict rules apply and not everyone is aware of them.
Toppings or broth, Nori or Naruto, everything has its place and slight adjustments to the dish can make a world of a difference. How exactly should ramen be enjoyed though? The next time you're ready for a bowl, avoid these mistakes and give your ramen the love it deserves.
1. Don't skip the sniff
It's tempting to skip right into tasting but don't forget to take in the aroma of your bowl before you start eating. Let those wafting smells lift you up and take you away like they do in old cartoons. Taking a huge sniff helps compliment the overall flavor.
2.Don't get grabby
Grabbing too many noodles all at once makes it nearly impossible to wrap them all neatly. Avoid overloading chopsticks with noodles (and toppings) by eating small, manageable sections at a time. It will help you with twisting too.
3. Don't twist in the bowl
Any twisting should be done out of the broth. Not so much ancient practice, more common sense so you're not left with puddles of broth everywhere. For more control, loop the noodles over your chopsticks using the spoon as an anchor. It makes for a neater, more enjoyable experience.
4. Don't forget the egg
Sorry, but if you're skipping the egg you're doing it wrong (unless you're allergic or really, really don't like eggs). The yolky goodness just makes the ramen broth much better. Make sure you boil the egg for just the right amount of time to ensure a soft, runny centre.
5. Don't make it hard on yourself
Yes, chopsticks are difficult to master but you'll soon find yourself a natural before you know it. Take your time, use your dominant hand and try your best not to give in and use a fork. When you're hungry enough, the food will make its way into your mouth by any means.
6. Don't forget the Nori either
Nori (seaweed) is a great, often essential addition to a bowl of ramen. The salty food is paper thin and delicious. Fair warning though, you have to it eat it quickly otherwise it will get too soggy in the broth. Use your chopsticks or spoon to cut it up, and enjoy quickly.
7. Don't be shy about slurping
As rude as it is to make noise when eating in western culture, slurping is customary when enjoying ramen. Before eating the noodles, start by tasting the broth to get a real sense of the flavor. Then when you're ready to introduce noodles into the mix, go ahead and slurp 'em up.
Bear in mind that good ramen has slurpable noodles. If they stick together, ask for a fresh bowl. When you're done, feel free to tip the bowl back and hoover up any remaining broth, making as much noise as possible.
8. Don't camp out
If you take a look at traditional ramen shops you'll quickly notice that many are standing room only. Why? The dish is meant to be eaten quickly. There's no need to take your time because ramen is meant to be enjoyed hot.
Also, the longer it sits uneaten, the more the noodles soak up the soup, your Nori and other topping get soggy too. Dive in with your spoon and chopsticks and let the simmered goodness warm you right up.
9. Don't substitute/add too much
The only real exception to the rule is Sriracha because that makes everything better. Toppings the chef suggest are also fine but try not to veer off too far. Stay away from adding Hoisin, don't add fish sauce, definitely don't add salt. Real ramen broth takes hours to perfect. I can assure you that (unless you're eating ramen out of a packet) the ramen is fine just the way it is.
10.Don't forget to double-fist
When it comes to eating ramen, it's a two-handed effort. Pull the noodles out and thread them loosely over your chopsticks, using your soup spoon to loop them over. You then dip the noodles back into the broth and use your spoon to soak up the soup.
Bring both the noodle-holding chopsticks and the spoonful of soup to your mouth at the same time. Ideally, you'd want a few topping in your mouthful but don't stress too much.
How much did you already know about the ancient art of eating ramen? If it sounds difficult don't be intimidated or put off, just remember to enjoy it. Ramen you buy is usually toiled over for hours so it's hard for it to taste bad no matter how you eat it. I'm not gonna tell you if you use a fork anyways. Itadakimasu!