And if you don’t put them in the bowl, should you expect the staff to clean them up for you?

Ramen restaurants are pretty casual places, so you’re not going to find fancy cloth napkins at one. Instead, there are dispensers of paper napkins, or, in a lot of cases, simply boxes of tissues for customers to grab sheets from as needed.

But that casualness doesn’t mean that ramen joints are manners-free areas, and one frustrated restaurant in Utsunomiya, Tochigi Prefecture, tweeted out an etiquette request for anyone dining there.

What’s going on in that photo, a used tissue that’s been placed by a customer in their bowl after they finished eating, is exactly what the restaurant, called Tatsuya, doesn’t want to see. “This has been happening a lot lately,” the tweet from the restaurant’s official account says, but do these people put their [used] tissues into their bowls when they eat at home? When they’re done eating, do they not throw away their own tissues, and have their wives throw them away for them?”

So really, there are two parts to this issue. The first is whether or not it’s OK to put used tissues into the bowl when you’re done eating. The second is whether or not you’re supposed to throw your tissues away yourself.

Starting with the question of tissues in the bowl, most restaurants will be grateful if you don’t put them there. Some commenters reacting to Tatsuya’s tweet said they put their tissues in the bowl to make it easier for the restaurant staff to clear the table after they finish eating and vacate the seat, and also so that the workers won’t have to directly touch someone else’s used tissues. But while those are considerate goals, used tissues are trash, and most restaurants would rather not have their tableware serve as a trash bin, even for a short time. The grossness factor gets amped up by the fact that a lot of steam rises up from a bowl of broth, so diners often aren’t just using their tissues to wipe away an errant bit of food or drop of broth, but also to wipe a runny nose, Making the whole thing ickier still is that most people don’t drink all the broth from the bowl, so tossing a tissue into the liquid means that whatever substances were wiped with the tissue then seep out and mix with the broth to form a sort of trash stew.

All that said, you will sometimes see ramen restaurant workers themselves tossing used tissues and trash into ramen bowls as they’re bussing tables or counters. Usually, though, this is seen as a mark of a lower-class eatery, and most ramen restaurants that take deep pride in their eating experiences don’t do it.

The second issue, whether or not customers are supposed to throw away their own tissues, is more complicated. In general, at ramen places, napkins/tissues are something that the staff expects to take care of when bussing tables. “I’ve never heard of customers being required to clean up their own tissues,” said one commenter. “I’ve always seen the staff take care of that when they clear away the bowls.” “Aren’t the trash cans usually in a separate place from where the customers are?” asked another.

However, some ramen restaurants are staffed by very small crews, with customers expected to take care of certain things by themselves, such as pouring their own water or tea from a central drink station or, in some cases, throwing away their own tissues. A good policy to follow is to, before getting up and leaving, take a look around the restaurant and see if there are any visible trash cans in the part of the restaurant easily accessible by customers. If so, there’s a chance that the staff would appreciate it if you tossed out your own tissues. Part of Tatsuya’s frustration stems from the restaurant having a trash can right under the shelf it keeps its tissues on, so if you spot a setup like that, putting your tissues in the trash can instead of your bowl is the better option.

Source: Twitter/@tatuyautsunomia via Hachima Kiko
Top image: Pakutaso
Insert images: Pakutaso
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