All About Japan

Ramen Rules from Conan O’Brien & Ken Watanabe

| Ramen , Video

There isn’t really one “right” way to eat ramen—just make sure you slurp those noodles while they’re hot. As for the subtler details, we’ll let these four videos do the talking.

4. Keizo Shimamoto vs. Conan O’Brien

Ramen burger inventor Keizo Shimamoto makes a fruitless attempt to teach Conan O’Brien, co-host Andy Richter and comedian Chris Hardwick the proper way to slurp ramen. With the ginger-haired talk show host refusing to pick up the chopsticks, it’s not long before somebody’s re-enacting Lady and the Tramp.

3. Ivan Ramen vs. James Mulcahy

New York native Ivan Orkin cut his ramen teeth in Tokyo before opening two highly successful ramen shops back home (he still maintains a restaurant in Setagaya-ku, of course). Appearing at Ivan Ramen Slurp Shop in New York’s Gotham West Market, Orkin explains to Zagat editor James Mulcahy that eating ramen is like eating ribs—if you don’t get messy, you’re not doing it right. That doesn’t stop Mulcahy from nearly choking himself, but Orkin has some solid tips on how to get through a massive bowl before it cools.

2. Ken Watanabe vs. the Ramen Master

A classic of Bubble Era cinema, Tampopo is known for its amusing portrayal of Japanese attitudes toward those most basic human needs: food and sex. Juzo Itami’s 1985 chef d’oeuvre follows a lone truck driver in search of the perfect ramen bowl, including this scene featuring a young Ken Watanabe learning the ins and outs of Japan’s favorite comfort food from a seasoned “sensei” of slurp. The highlight: the Ramen Master’s weirdly affectionate relationship with his yakibuta roast pork!

1. Teiichi Sakurai Does Dallas

At Ten, Teiichi Sakurai’s standing-room-only ramen shop in Dallas, Texas, the master chef offers the following advice for downing your bowl: “Don’t worry about it.” Use your spoon to cradle your noodles if you want, and feel free to pick up the bowl when you’re done. Just be sure to eat fast before the noodles expand if you don’t want an overflow—or worse, soggy noodles.

We’ll presume he refers to his onsen tamago as a “poached egg” for the sake of the local audience. Watch to the end to learn the secret for spotting a good ramen shop!

*Written with a helping hand from Brian Berdanier.

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