HOME > Chowhound > Not About Food >

Question about food etiquette and eating noodles

ipsedixit Mar 15, 2007 03:28 PM

I think for most Western cultures, it would be considered rude to "slurp" while eating soup noodles (or even non-soup noodles). True?

But I believe the converse is true for most Asian cultures. Many Chinese, for example, consider slurping to be a complimentary sign -- i.e., that the eater thinks the noodles are chowhound-worthy. True?

Why is there a difference (if in fact there is one)?

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. ccbweb RE: ipsedixit Mar 15, 2007 03:45 PM

    I believe that you're right on both counts. I've always understood it to be, in part at least, a function of the actual heat at which the dishes are served. IE, Asian noodles tend to be served very hot (steaming hot, not spicy hot...though that too, at times, obviously) and often in a broth of some kind and the slurping helps cool them while eating them.

    Its entirely possible I'm making this up.

    1. Sam Fujisaka RE: ipsedixit Mar 15, 2007 03:46 PM

      In Asia it is not necessary to slurp and it is unnecessary to not slurp.

      Cultures are dynamic, however, and affluent young people in places like Shanghai, Bangkok and Hanoi are slurping less.

      1. MeAndroo RE: ipsedixit Mar 15, 2007 04:48 PM

        I recall in the movie "Tampopo," an etiquette class is being taught in Japan about eating spaghetti quietly, properly turning the fork and using the spoon to help, eating small bites, etc etc. The group hears loud slurping noises, and sees a foreigner eating spaghetti VERY loudly...as a result, the group breaks down into a who-can-slurp-the-loudest competition, including the instructor. Amusing scene.

        I slurp my ramen, pho, hot n sour soup, etc when eating in Asian restaurants. I don't in western restaurants. Force of habit maybe?

        1. m
          monkfanatic RE: ipsedixit Mar 15, 2007 05:04 PM

          japan is the country thinking slurping is a complinent about the "noodle soup," i remenber seeing one movie play by tom salleck, he went to play baseball in japan trying to fit in with other japanese baseball player, and he slurped too loud, and everybody was ataring at him

          2 Replies
          1. re: monkfanatic
            ambrose RE: monkfanatic Mar 16, 2007 05:03 AM

            I can still remember my introduction to eating noodles in Japan (soup noodles). My host told me that it was OK to slurp. What he meant was that I should not be embarassed if I slurped. It was just a given that some slurping would occur. It did NOT mean that I should make an effort to slurp - that would be taken as poor table manners, whether you were Japanese or Western.

            1. re: ambrose
              bigjeff RE: ambrose Mar 19, 2007 12:07 AM

              absolutely true. if it happens, it happens, but why really make a show of it? some people say its to aerate the noodles or the broth, but why deal with the mess? it just means, take nice hearty spoonfuls or chopstickfuls without being exaggerated. besides, would you want to deal with the ensuing spray all over your shirt? and, btw, noodles are a bad first-date option, no matter what country or cuision your noodles are from!

          2. s
            Shazam RE: ipsedixit Mar 15, 2007 08:01 PM

            Not all Asian cultures are the same. In Vietnam, it is considered rude to slurp noodles.

            2 Replies
            1. re: Shazam
              DezzerSF RE: Shazam Mar 19, 2007 09:18 PM

              I read it was rude in Korean culture as well.

              1. re: Shazam
                LMAshton RE: Shazam Jan 8, 2014 06:46 PM

                I haven't seen/heard slurping of noodles in Singapore or Malaysia, either. Or Sri Lanka, but Sri Lanka isn't a big noodle country anyway, so...

              2. Polecat RE: ipsedixit Mar 18, 2007 05:46 AM

                No news here, but, in several trips to Japan, and hence to Ramen shops, it has been instilled in me that slurping your noodles is like telling the proprietor that you approve, that you like them.

                It also makes sense in the sense of enhancing enjoyment. Noodles absorb broth and surrounding flavors, so by slurping you are getting the most out of the experience, and making a show of it.

                I find, from a western point of view, the slurping to be a release; the constraints are off. Anything's possible.

                1. b
                  brendastarlet RE: ipsedixit Mar 18, 2007 06:10 AM

                  My experience living in Japan and dining in Chinese and Japanese restaurants here is that you don't intentionally slurp, but you are fine if you do. I found Japanese diners to be very quiet, the sober ones excepted, and if you slurp too loudly you might draw some looks.

                  1. b
                    Blueicus RE: ipsedixit Mar 18, 2007 06:50 AM

                    Hong Kong Chinese here, and I always got berated by family if I slurped.

                    1. m
                      monkfanatic RE: ipsedixit Mar 19, 2007 12:19 AM

                      most of the chinese use chopstick to put the noodle in a spoon and than eat out of a spoon

                      1. m
                        monkfanatic RE: ipsedixit Mar 19, 2007 12:20 AM

                        so you won't be sloopy

                        1. i
                          Iamvivian RE: ipsedixit Jan 7, 2014 05:42 PM

                          I was born and raised in America and grew up not slurping my soup and noodles, but my morose it all the time. Not only does she slurp, but she also chews very loudly just because she knows I can't stand it. I know it's an Asian thing to slurp, but IMHO its really rude. Jus imagine yourself doing it in public at a restaurant.

                          5 Replies
                          1. re: Iamvivian
                            ricepad RE: Iamvivian Jan 8, 2014 01:44 PM

                            Not only can I imagine myself slurping noodles in public in Asian restaurants, I can HEAR myself slurping noodles in Asian restaurants...and so can everybody within 75 feet. What's your point?

                            1. re: ricepad
                              Iamvivian RE: ricepad Jan 8, 2014 02:23 PM

                              Have some manners when you're out in a restaurant. I'm Taiwanese and I know. The older generations slurp because they were brought up that its ok to do so. I personally don't do it because its rude in the West and in the East. You don't want people to stare at you or make a fool of yourself slurping

                              1. re: Iamvivian
                                fourunder RE: Iamvivian Jan 8, 2014 02:41 PM

                                If people stare at you...isn't that being rude of them?

                                1. re: fourunder
                                  Iamvivian RE: fourunder Jan 9, 2014 08:46 AM

                                  Well, you're the one slurping. That's rude so people start wondering who's the one making all the ruckus at a restaurant. Can't blame people for staring if you're the one making all the noise eating.

                                2. re: Iamvivian
                                  ricepad RE: Iamvivian Jan 8, 2014 10:52 PM

                                  Trust me: I only make a fool of myself when I want to. I don't make a fool of myself when I'm eating. Manners can be situational.

                            2. bagelman01 RE: ipsedixit Jan 8, 2014 02:31 PM

                              I'm US born and raised but have a Chinese daughter and have made many trips to East Asia.

                              I don't slurp noodles in the USA (nor does daughter) we both may do so in the Far East.

                              Why? The noodles served in the US tend to be much shorter (and often wider) than the noodles in China, Japan, etc.

                              If one encounters a long noodle in the USA, it's easy to cut it using the side of your metal soupspoon against the side of the bowl. It is very difficult to try to cut a noodle to length using a Chinese porcelain soup spoon.

                              1. TeRReT RE: ipsedixit Jan 8, 2014 07:20 PM

                                I have been told slurping Japanese noodles is the only way to truly appreciate the flavor of the broth. Much like olive oil tasting where you slurp to coat the entire mouth and to include oxygen, the same is done with noodles.

                                udon and soba broths can have a very delicate taste and this helps to taste it correctly.

                                As I understand it, an added benefit is that you can eat much hotter noodles as well and they cool down faster as you slurp.


                                As is mentioned there you eat noodles in a noodle restaurant, not at a fancy place, so everyone is slurping together. It's not at all rude in the slightest, how could it be if it's the cultural norm?

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: TeRReT
                                  TeRReT RE: TeRReT Jan 8, 2014 07:27 PM

                                  Also, we are talking broth based noodles only, at Italian restaurants in Japan you won't see the same slurping.

                                2. paulj RE: ipsedixit Jan 8, 2014 07:38 PM

                                  what ever they taught in Tampopo

                                  1. LotusRapper RE: ipsedixit Jan 8, 2014 08:48 PM

                                    Ha, reminded me of this scene:


                                    It is what it is. Different strokes for different folks.

                                    1. PotatoHouse RE: ipsedixit Jan 9, 2014 03:20 AM

                                      Growing up as a Navy kid at duty stations in communities with heavy Asian populations, I was always taught it was proper to slurp when eating at a "real" noodle house. Unless someone convinced me that tradition had changed since I was a kid, I would still slurp my noodles.

                                      1. LotusRapper RE: ipsedixit Jan 9, 2014 07:33 AM

                                        I think it's quite liberating to slurp noodles. It's way harder and slower to eat 'em while suppressing the slurp sounds !

                                        1. Monica RE: ipsedixit Jan 9, 2014 07:45 AM

                                          I am Korean but never heard slurping is a good etiquette...in fact, the opposite. My grandparents used to tell their grandchildren, one should not make noise when eating.
                                          But then we use spoon and chopsticks together.

                                          2 Replies
                                          1. re: Monica
                                            Iamvivian RE: Monica Jan 9, 2014 08:45 AM

                                            Your grandma is a smart lady.

                                            1. re: Monica
                                              LotusRapper RE: Monica Jan 9, 2014 09:00 AM

                                              While we (Chinese) don't intentionally slurp loud when eating noodles, it's not a taboo to slurp neither. But if you're doing it several decibels more than those around you, then maybe it's better to tone it down a bit :-)

                                            2. s
                                              Scharn RE: ipsedixit Jan 9, 2014 08:47 AM

                                              Can only answer that question for Japan:

                                              If you are eating in a cheaper ramen/udon etc. restaurant you are supposed to slurp, mostly because the soup is meant to be eaten really hot and the slurping cools it down. Not to slurp is not necessarily "unfriendly" or anything. It probably feels slightly odd to some people if they paid attention but not slurping does not necesarily break some ettiquette or offends the cook or anything like that.

                                              In a more upscale restaurant, for example Kaiseki or French you would not slurp. Mostly because here there is no good reason to slurp as there won't be super-hot soups.

                                              1. Monica RE: ipsedixit Jan 9, 2014 08:57 AM

                                                Another reason why I don't slurp, it splashes broth everywhere!

                                                1. r
                                                  ricepad RE: ipsedixit Jan 9, 2014 12:16 PM

                                                  I'd like to make a distinction. Slurping can be incidental, but it really shouldn't be intentional. If you're working to *accentuate* the slurp - in other words, slurping for slurping's sake - that, IMO, is rude, sorta like faking an orgasm. But if the slurping is just happening while you're eating noodles, that's not rude.

                                                  1 Reply
                                                  1. re: ricepad
                                                    LotusRapper RE: ricepad Jan 9, 2014 03:47 PM

                                                    I don't recall Sally ate noodles .....

                                                  2. E Eto RE: ipsedixit Jan 14, 2014 08:37 PM

                                                    Here's an informative piece and tutorial:

                                                    2 Replies
                                                    1. re: E Eto
                                                      LotusRapper RE: E Eto Jan 14, 2014 08:47 PM

                                                      Hilarious !

                                                      I'd like to see Jon Stewart eat a bowl [grin]

                                                      1. re: LotusRapper
                                                        Puffin3 RE: LotusRapper Jan 16, 2014 06:17 AM

                                                        I used to see older Chinese slurp and also spit out bones onto the (plastic) tablecloths.
                                                        I don't see many older Chinese anymore. I think they sort of 'withdrew' from places where young Chinese go to eat.

                                                    Show Hidden Posts