Debu-chan, a ramen restaurant in Tokyo’s “ramen battlefield,” recently implemented a new rule banning customers from watching videos on their phones while dining.
Kota Kai, the restaurant’s owner, implemented the ban last month after he noticed that customers who were watching videos on their phones took the longest time to start eating.
Although he understands that customers who watch videos prior to eating do not intend to ruin their meal, Kai pointed out that his restaurant’s thin one-millimeter-wide noodles can quickly become soggy. Even watching a brief video before eating the ramen could result in a noticeable difference in taste, according to Kai.
“It’s painful for me to see the ramen that I put my soul into making get ruined right before my eyes,” he said, according to SoraNews24.
Kai explained that the Hakata ramen he serves, which originates from Hakata prefecture in western Japan, is a “food born for impatient people,” indicating that the noodles are meant to be eaten immediately after being served, reported CNN.
In addition to preventing soggy noodles, the video-watching ban is also due to the shop’s location: Tokyo’s competitive restaurant neighborhood, Takadanobaba.
Since his store only has 33 seats, customers often have to wait in a line that trails outside. By implementing this policy, Kai hopes that diners will eat and leave sooner to make space for those in the queue.
“It’s got to be hard for the people waiting to see people who were seated before them relaxing with videos,” Kai said.
Rather than posting signs about the phone ban, Kai said he prefers to speak directly to the customers: “When the seats are full and I see people stopping eating while staring at their smartphones, I tell them (to stop).”
Many Twitter users expressed support for Debu-Chan’s decision to ban phone videos.
Some commenters noted that they too feel the urge to speak up when they see someone eating while staring at their phone.
“The surest way to tell that someone was raised poorly is when you see them doing something else too while eating,” one person said.
However, others voiced their disagreement with the restaurant’s policy, arguing that it should be up to the diners to decide whether or not to use their phones.
“Personally, I don’t like it when restaurants force that sort of ‘we put our souls into this’ attitude on the customers,” wrote one Twitter user. “I prefer to eat my food without that kind of heavy atmosphere.”
Some also argued that it’s the customer’s responsibility to prevent their noodles from getting soggy, not the restaurant’s.
“Whether the noodles get soggy or not is on the customer, isn’t it?” questioned one user.
Kai clarified that customers are allowed to take pictures of the food before eating, but if they want to watch videos on their phone while eating, they should dine at a different restaurant.