Slurping is the norm in a Japanese noodle house, but is it OK to bite off your ramen if it’s more than you can chew?

One of the first things you’ll hear in any discussion of Japanese table manners is that it’s customary, and even polite, to audibly slurp your noodles as you eat them. It doesn’t matter if it’s ramen, soba, or udon. Japanese-style noodles are meant to be slurped, with the sound showing that you’re enjoying the meal.

However, once you start slurping, you may find that you’ve got more in your mouth than you can take down in a single go, so what do you do then? Is it OK to bite through the noodles and put the unconsumed portion back in your bowl to wait for your next mouthful?

One user of Japanese women’s interest Internet portal Girls Channel says it’s not, posting:

“Some people may think I’m being too strict, but I don’t like people who don’t slurp their whole mouthful of noodles, bite through them, and put the rest back in their bowl. Even if they were a good person, seeing that just shatters my image of them.”

The comment garnered support from other users who left comments such as:

“I honestly hate that too.”
“I remember someone saying the same thing on TV, and I have to agree. It doesn’t look classy, so I always try to make sure I only pick up as many noodles with my chopsticks as I can slurp in one go.”
“It makes them look more like animals chomping feed than a human having a meal.”
“My mom does this every time, and it seriously bugs me.”

However, a larger number of people said they have no problem with a mid-slurp bite, as the original comment generated 1,030 “disagree” votes compared to just 608 “agrees.” The bite-if-you-feel-like-it group represented itself with:

“Whoa, pretty picky there!”
“Eh, sometimes the noodles are hotter than people expected, or they picked up more with their chopsticks than they meant to. No need to get that upset at people for it.”
“It doesn’t bother me at all. I don’t even really watch whether people do it or not.”
“If the noodles are really long, it’s impossible to slurp them all at once.”
“I’ve got a sensitive-to-heat ‘cat tongue,’ so I can’t slurp that much at one time.”

Overall, the feeling seems to be that most Japanese people think the bite-through is OK, but some sticklers would prefer if you didn’t. That said, there are two very important points to keep in mind.

First, if you are going to bite through, don’t just let the uneaten noodles free-fall back into the bowl. That’s bound to end up splashing the surrounding area/diners with broth. Instead, keep a grip on the uneaten noodles with your chopsticks, and gently lower them back into the bowl, like you’re putting a baby to sleep in its cradle (though please ignore the baby simile when you come back and eat those noodles later). Honestly, it’s generally a good move to keep your chopsticks on your noodles whenever you’re slurping them, to prevent them from whipping around wildly as they enter your mouth.

And second, while most people won’t have a serious problem with you returning your uneaten noodles to your own bowl, it’s something to avoid if a friend is giving you a taste of their ramen from their bowl. If your noodle-loving pal is willing to share, make sure to only grab as many noodles as you’re sure you can consumer in a single slurp, and also to return the favor by letting them partake of your ramen as well.

Source: Girls Channel via Niconico News via Jin
Top image: Pakutaso
Insert image: Pakutaso 
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