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. There’s no excuse for plain old ramen right out of the package, and adding the right toppings and adjustments really can make a world of difference. But how exactly should ramen be enjoyed? The next time you’re ready for ramen, avoid these mistakes and give your bowl the love it deserves.
1) Don’t skip the sniff. While everyone wants to hurry up and get to tasting, don’t forget to take in the aroma of your ramen before you start eating. Be sure to breathe in the wafting smells before you eat, as it’ll help 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’ll help you with twisting, too.
3) Don’t twist in the bowl. Speaking of twisting your noodles, this should happen out of the broth. Nobody wants a soup shower! For a bit 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. When it comes to ramen, if you’re skipping the egg, you’re doing it wrong. The yolky goodness just makes the ramen broth that much better.
5) Don’t make it hard on yourself. This probably goes without saying, but don’t hold your chopsticks in your left hand. Unless you’re a serious lefty, this is a recipe for disaster. That’s not to say you should make it too easy, either! Though it takes some time to master, eating ramen with chopsticks is a must (never use a fork).
6) Don’t forget the Nori, either. Nori (seaweed) can be confusing for the uninitiated. If you’ve never had seaweed, you’re in for a treat. The salty food is paper thin and delicious, but fair warning: eat it quickly. Wait too long and it’ll get soggy in the broth. Use your chopsticks or spoon to cut it up and enjoy it quickly.
7) Don’t be shy about slurping. While it might seem uncouth to slurp your soup in American 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. A note here: good ramen has slurpable noodles. If the noodles stick together, ask for a fresh bowl. When you’re finished, feel free to tip the bowl back and slurp up any remaining broth.
8) Don’t camp out. Take a look at traditional ramen shops and you’ll quickly notice that many are standing room only. Why? The dish is meant to be eaten quickly. Ramen is best enjoyed hot, too, so there’s no need to take your time with the dish. Plus, the longer it sits uneaten, the more the noodles soak up the soup. Dive in with your spoon and chopsticks and let the simmered goodness warm you right up.
9) Don’t substitute. Let me be clear: no substitutions ever. The one exception to this rule is Sriracha (because Sriracha makes everything better) along with any other toppings the chef offers. But seriously, don’t add Hoisin, don’t add fish sauce, definitely don’t add salt. Real ramen broth takes hours to perfect, and we’re going to guess that it’s 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. Then dip the noodles back into the broth and use your spoon to soak up the soup. Bring both to your mouth at the same time — ideally with some green onions in the mix. The dish is best enjoyed when you’re getting broth, noodles, and toppings all at once.
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