It took me six months of living in Japan before I got used to the traditional practice of slurping my noodles, but the guys at Seattle’s Boom Noodle are hoping it doesn’t take their customers quite that long. To help folks get into the slurp groove, they’ve been known to pass out “slurp goggles” (to protect eyes from soup spray), and even plant slurp-happy friends among diners to “make lots of noise and let people know it’s completely acceptable,” says Executive Chef Jonathan Hunt in a Seattle Post-Intelligencer article titled “On Food: Suck It Up and Slurp Your Soup.”
Slurping helps cool off the piping hot noodles and allows the flavors of the broth to aerate and be fully enjoyed. “You’re really breathing in the noodle in many ways,” says Hunt. However, as the article points out, “it’s hard for an American audience to overcome early training in table manners” (and what happens when you become fully slurp-assimilated and horrify your friends when you go out for Italian and accidentally slurp your linguine?—not that I know anything about that).
“It does sound very complimentary,” Hunt says. “It’s like everyone in the restaurant is sitting there, saying, ‘Mmm! Mmm!’”
Go ahead, slurp away. You might find you like it.