You want to make sure your soup stays warm for the next round of noodles, so order your kaedama refill before you finish your first bowl. Also make sure you leave enough soup in your bowl because you can’t ask for extra soup.
You are free to season ramen how you like, and many shops will have pickled red ginger, takana (Japanese giant red mustard) and other condiments that you can add freely. But remember that every owner wants you to try the soup “as is” first. Be polite, try the soup, then add your seasonings if you still think you want them.
The best seats in the house are at the counter where you can feel the heat of the kitchen and watch the chefs deftly prepare your ramen. It is fun to watch each step of the process, like lifting the noodles or cutting the char siu, and then see how the steps—and the utensils used—differs from shop to shop. (On the other hand, ramen chefs must never forget that they’re being watched!)
Many ramen shops don’t mind if you take photos and post to social media, but ramen is meant to be eaten as soon as it’s served. If you spend too much time taking photos, you’re being rude to the owner, so slurp first and post later!
For a ramen shop owner, the happiest thing to see is a customer who drinks all the soup. Forget about the calories. If you liked your ramen, drink your soup down. Once you’re done, there will be nothing left except fine particles of the pork bone.
The old image of Hakata ramen was that only men ate it, but with more shops offering milder versions of tonkotsu without the strong, distinctive odor of pork bones, the number of female fans is on the rise. Ramen, Japanese soul that’s gone universal!