Western table manners frown at slurping food but, in Asia, that’s how to eat a bowl of piping hot noodle soup — including ramen. Just watch this footage from Japan.
Why slurp the noodles? Three reasons:
1. Ramen is meant to be eaten fast to prevent the noodles from softening in the hot broth and turning soggy.
2. The slurping cools the noodles a bit so they don’t scorch your mouth.
3. Relative to number two above, because you can eat the noodles faster, the broth stays hot and you can enjoy it, after finishing the noodles, before it turns cold.
But more than the slurping, or its absence, there is simply no singular way to eat long strands of noodles from a bowl of hot broth. I never noticed it before but it seems that even in my family, every one eats noodle soup differently. We brought the girls to Tamagagoya! Noodle House for dinner tonight and I was taking photos when I noticed how each one of them handled their ramen.
In my family, only Speedy knows how to slurp his ramen. He simply lifts the noodles with his chopsticks and slurp away.
Sam eats her noodles the same way minus the slurping, and she eats far more slowly than all of us.
Alex does it differently. She lifts the noodles with her chopsticks, drops them into her soup spoon and lifts the spoon to her mouth to eat the noodles. No slurping either. Her speed? No one will ever beat Speedy, he’s really a fast eater no matter what the dish, so I’d say that Alex eats an average speed. Not under five minutes, for sure, but not as long as 10 minutes either.
And me? How do I do it? Gee, I still can’t use chopsticks. Although it embarrasses my daughters endlessly, I always ask for a spoon and fork when we go out for ramen.