If you’re exploring Japan without eating ramen, did you actually visit Japan? We’re going to say no, as it’s the countries most celebrated dish and visiting Japan without trying quality ramen is something that you shouldn’t miss out on.
It’s made its way around the world and has become a favorite by many, so if you’re anywhere in Japan, you have to make sure to do as the locals do.
The Low-Down on Ramen Ticket Machines
There are traditional restaurants in Japan where you sit down and have a meal. Apart from that, you can find ticket machines where you can select your meal with the touch of a button and have them hot and ready to go in no time.
Most ticket machines have gotten an upgrade where they feature colorful menus that show exactly what you’re getting. You can browse through the menu and pick the ramen that’s most appetizing to you, selecting it and paying for it all in one go.
How To Order Ramen in 6 Easy Steps
If you’ve got a taste for ramen, you’re only about 4 steps away from having a steaming hot bowl in your hands. When in Japan, here is how to purchase your food ticket from the many shops that offer this type of ordering system.
Step #1. Insert Money
You don’t get to select your meal yet, as you first have to add money (or scan your card). The more you add, the more the menu will light up, letting you know what you can choose and what you need more money for. Browse through your options and see what lights up, taking a look at all of your options.
Step #2. Choose your Dish
This is the fun part, where you get to pick and choose the perfect dish. Japan isn’t known for having English menus at every ramen shop, so these pictures come in handy.
You can click on the top right to see ingredients if you need to, though you might not have any idea what they say.
If you really need to, ask the staff, and see what you can order or avoid. English is becoming a more common language across the globe, so it’s likely that staff or other patrons will be able to explain a little bit to you.
Step #3. Pick Extras
Many shops won’t find a lot of combinations or set meals that include a beverage, so if you’re thirsty or want an extra something on the side, you’ll have to order it separately.
Most of the side dishes and extras offered are located at the bottom of the menu, so be sure to give it a glance before finalizing your order.
Step #4. Grab your Ticket
Once you’ve selected your order, you’ll need to take your ticket and your change. The printout will have your order and will be the way that the restaurant knows exactly what you’ve ordered.
Step #5. Give your Ticket to the Restaurant
Some shops will have someone designated to stand near the machine. This person is there to take the tickets immediately and see that they get made promptly.
Others will not have someone designated, leaving you to walk into the shop, have a seat, and hand your ticket to the staff.
No matter what, you can just show your ticket, and someone will point you in the right direction, showing you exactly where you need to go and the proper order of how to proceed.
From there, all you have to do is wait a bit, grabbing a Japanese beer to drink or just sitting back and observing all the things around you and do a bit of people watching.
Step #6. Enjoy!
You’ll receive your order, and the staff will likely take your ticket or tear a piece of it off. Either way, you can take your food and go, or you can stay seated and have it there in the restaurant.
How To Eat Ramen Like a Pro
Now that you know how to order ramen, you may be ready to take off. But, you might realize that you’re unsure of the customary Japanese way of how to eat it, and may receive unusual glances from the restaurant patrons and staff.
Most Japanese are good-humored and will likely chuckle if you struggle but hey, you’re a rookie!
To eat ramen like a pro, here’s what you’ll need to do.
Grab Some Chopsticks
Most ramen comes with both a spoon and chopsticks. The spoon is for the broth, which is tasty on its own. But, at some point, you’re going to want to eat the noodles, which is where the chopsticks come in. Grab them in your dominant hand and get ready to dive in.
Some restaurants will season the broth to perfection. Others may have some tasty additions on the table that you can add like extra spice and fish sauce.
Whatever the case, dip your spoon in and give the broth a taste. This is where you’ll find what it needs (if anything) and get a preview of what you’re working with.
Chop Some Noodles
Now it’s time to grab some noodles, doing so between the two chopsticks you have. Don’t go crazy your first time around, only grabbing a few noodles so that you don’t get too big of a bite your first go-round.
Lift Your Sticks
Using the amount that you grabbed, you’ll need to lift your noodles as high as you can, pulling them far out of the bowl. Lift them up and see what you have so you can gauge your slurping experience.
Slurp Like No One’s Watching
Keep in mind that in Japan, slurping is not rude when it comes to ramen. So start slurping and do so like you were born to do it, using your chopsticks as a guide.
As you move further along in your ramen experience at different shops, you’ll likely add some pieces of pork, egg, and even slurp some more broth along the way. There are no concrete rules to eating ramen, so slurp away until you can pick up the bowl and finish each one off.