Everything You Need to Know about Ramen Culture, Part 2

Ramen has been trending in the Western world for the past decade or so, but in Japan, it’s been a cultural obsession for decades. With the launch of our simply complex NEW! ZENB Ramen, made using an authentically Japanese approach, with yellow pea noodles + umami-packed broth, we took a deep-dive into all things ramen to share everything you need to know about ramen culture. In the second part of our two-part series, we venture into the vibrant ramen culture of Japan, from the myriad of tiny shops dotting Tokyo's streets, and how slurping is not only expected ... it is appreciated!

For many of us, the introduction to ramen is via the instant-noodle packs found in supermarkets and convenience stores. The real stuff, with real, simple ingredients and umami-packed flavors, is a whole different thing. ZENB Ramen delivers an at-home version of the real stuff that will transport your tastebuds to a better-for-you refinement on a global favorite in about 5 minutes.

Ramen Shops in Japan

There are over 32,000 ramen shops in Japan, with approximately 10,000 of those concentrated in Tokyo. They’re everywhere, including in underground subway stations, in residential buildings and on cramped side streets off the beaten path. Many of these shops are teeny tiny, with just a few stools at a counter; most will offer a great view into an open kitchen where the chefs do their work.

As most bowls of ramen come in between 600 - 1,000 yen (between $5 and $8), these are popular lunch spots for business-people, students, and tourists. Some shops are only open for a few hours a day, to allow enough time for the chefs to make everything from scratch. Others are perpetually packed and require an hours-long wait in a queue during prime lunch hours. In a busy ramen shop, it’s considered bad manners to stay long after finishing your bowl. No matter how great the vibes are, clear out to make way for the next people in line!

Fun fact: In Yokohama-City, Japan, there’s Shin-Yokohama Ramen Museum, a ramen-themed amusement park. Here, visitors are immersed in ramen history and culture, take a ramen noodle-making class, and sample bowls of ramen from renowned shops across Japan set up in an area meant to resemble a typical 1958 Japanese streetscape!

Slurp Etiquette

In many cultures, making loud sounds while eating is considered uncouth. Not so in ramen culture! Noisy slurping is highly encouraged — but why?

Ramen chefs widely hold that ramen noodles can only last a few minutes in hot broth before losing their springy texture and becoming overcooked. Slurping quickly and with gusto means that you’re trying to enjoy as much of the ramen as possible while everything is still fresh and perfect. On a practical level, slurping helps rapidly cool down the steamy noodles and broth as they enter the mouth. The quick inhale of oxygen can also help enhance the flavors of the food.

One more ramen rule to know: Sipping broth directly from the bowl is a-okay. Just be careful not to splash any boiling broth on yourself!

If you love exploring global cuisines and food culture, check out the ZENB blog, where we cover topics like Japanese winter holiday traditions, vibrant global flavors, and reducing food waste. To sharpen your cooking chops, dive into the ZENB recipe collection, packed with 150+ plant-fueled dishes to explore. Follow ZENB on Instagram, Facebook, and Pinterest for plenty of tips and tricks on cultivating a balanced lifestyle. 

One Bite Closer to a Better World View all

Choose any 10, 18, or 24 items
$49.99 - $99.99
FREE Shipping
Now with NEW! Linguine
Get 7 Pastas
Get 6 Lasagna
Get 12 Sauces