Are you supposed to drink ramen broth? You totally can – here’s how (& why)

                by Joost Nusselder | Updated:  May 25, 2021

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Ramen is a relatively simple Japanese noodle dish. When you order ramen, you get a bowl of yummy noodles in a tasty broth with some vegetables and toppings.

What can be complicated about it? Not much, really. Except, many Westerners are confused about drinking ramen broth.

Is it polite to drink the liquids straight from the bowl?

That’s what I’m here to answer.

are you supposed to drink ramen broth

So, can I drink the ramen broth?

It is completely fine and even recommended to drink ramen broth. You can even go ahead and drink it from the bowl. Drinking the broth is perceived as a compliment to how tasty the broth is. Don’t worry if you’re slurping too much broth and noodles because that’s how you’re supposed to eat ramen.

In Japan, some people will drink the broth after they’re finished with the noodles and other ingredients.

But, the majority will have some of the broth as they eat the noodles and then use the spoon for drinking a little bit of the broth.

It is normal to leave a little of the broth behind.

Are you supposed to drink the broth, though?

No, Japanese food etiquette doesn’t specify that you’re supposed to drink the ramen broth after finishing the noodles.

However, keep in mind that fresh ramen is made with quality meat or seafood-based stock, taking up to 8 hours to cook. Therefore, it’s cooked for the purpose of you drinking it.

If you’re at a Japanese restaurant and you have a big bowl of tonkatsu ramen, you might want to drink the broth because it’s made of delicious stock, and it actually tastes very good.

Besides, it’s free from all those artificial seasonings you find in packaged noodles.

Is it ok to drink ramen broth from the bowl?

As mentioned above, it is okay to drink the ramen broth straight from the bowl because it’s perceived as a compliment to the chef or cook.

Alternatively, you can scoop broth with the spoon, called chirirenge (散蓮華) or renge, for short.

Therefore, don’t be shy to bring the bowl to your mouth and drink the broth. Chances are, nobody is going to give you strange looks.

Remember that in Japan, ramen is a quick meal and people who are on their lunch break want to finish the food quickly so they can get back to work. So, it’s common to see people drink the broth quickly in one go.

Don’t miss my post on Different types of Japanese Ramen explained like Shoyu & Shio

Drinking instant ramen broth

Instant ramen packets are full of additives and preservatives, along with lots of sodium and sugar. Therefore, they aren’t very nutritious or flavorful, and you might be better off not drinking the leftover broth.

Generally, instant ramen is not healthy food, and the broth, made with seasoning packets, is the main culprit.

Technically, there is nothing wrong with drinking instant ramen broth, as it’s completely digestible and safe but it’s not as tasty as fresh cooked ramen.

Plus, if you’re on a diet, you might want to skip the broth.

Check out this 12 minute instant ramen with egg for a fast & easy meal

Is it healthy to drink ramen broth?

Fresh made ramen is tasty because the cooks use bones and fish or seafood to make the broth. The stock itself isn’t too unhealthy, but the added sodium and flavorings are problematic.

So, generally, it’s okay to drink that broth.

However, there is a concerning point to consider. The broth is full of sodium, and it can be bad for your health to drink lots of ramen broth.

But, you should distinguish between fresh ramen from the restaurant versus cheap instant ramen packets.

Restaurant ramen is usually made with fresh noodles, meat or seafood-based stock and veggies, tofu, egg, and other special ingredients. The broth is much more flavorful and not as full of additives and preservatives as instant ramen.

Instant ramen packets have artificial seasonings, full of additives, preservatives, and lots of sodium. They are not healthy, and you’re likely drinking a broth that will taste like salty water.

Eat and drink ramen broth while hot

Ramen is served hot. It might seem like it’s too hot to eat right away, but you’re supposed to eat it while it hot because the noodles become overcooked, and then they get mushy.

As the broth cools, it gets starchier and thickens.

If you want to drink the broth, it should be hot or warm so that it has a pleasant soup-like taste.

Can you ask for more noodles for the broth?

If you’ve slurped up the last of the noodles but don’t want just to drink the broth, it’s acceptable to ask for some more noodles.

Sometimes, the broth is too salty and doesn’t go down too quickly, so adding more noodles will help you finish the ramen.

Are ramen noodles bad if you don’t drink broth?

No, ramen noodle is very delicious, even if you don’t drink much of the broth. The noodles are tasty and chewy but still soft and flavorful.

However, the fact that they’re cooked in the broth infuses them with yummy flavors, so you won’t be able to make good ramen without the broth.

The bottom line is that it’s up to each individual’s personal preference.

Some people love the ramen broth so much they slurp it down in one go. Others prefer the noodles and toppings so they have some of the broth with the spoon and then leave some behind.

There is no real etiquette rule about drinking ramen broth so you’re welcome to do so!

When making ramen at home, make sure you give each person the right amount of broth when serving ramen

Ever had trouble finding Japanese recipes that were easy to make?

We now have "cooking Japanese with ease", our full recipe book and video course with step-by-step tutorials on your favorite recipes.

Joost Nusselder, the founder of Bite My Bun is a content marketer, dad and loves trying out new food with Japanese food at the heart of his passion, and together with his team he's been creating in-depth blog articles since 2016 to help loyal readers with recipes and cooking tips.