This Tokyo Ramen Shop Has Banned Phone Use While Eating

Get in, eat and get out

Six bowls of ramen, with one centrally placed, topped with scallions and menma
Some restaurants ban talking on phones because it annoys customers, but Debu-chan has a different ethos.

What’s the point of fast food if it isn’t fast?

That’s more or less the premise behind ramen noodle shop owner Kota Kai’s recent phone ban at his Tokyo restaurant, Debu-chan, per a new report from CNN.

It’s widely accepted among Japan natives that at ramen restaurants, you eat quickly and you leave. That sentiment rings even truer for Kai, who serves a kind of “regional ramen from Hakata prefecture in western Japan” — a food, he says, that was “born for impatient people.” Plus, there’s often a line of 10 or so people waiting for a seat at Debu-chan.

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But recently patrons on their phones, who are thus not eating quickly, have become a real hinderance to Kai’s operation. “Once, when we were busy, we noticed a customer who didn’t start eating for four minutes,” he told CNN of a man who watched videos while waiting for his food to cool. It’s also Kai’s belief that the quality of the meal lessens with every minute that it goes uneaten.

Instead of putting up signs requesting that customers not use their phones while eating, however, Kai prefers to speak to them individually.“When the seats are full and I see people stopping eating while staring at their smartphones, I tell them (to stop),” he said.

Of course, “no cell phones while dining” isn’t exactly a novel idea, and many restaurants have implemented similar policies (though the success rate is another story). It’s especially prevalent in other cultures where, while it may not be the law of the land, it is a sign of respect and appreciation for the meal you’re being served. Further, in Japan it’s considered impolite to talk on the phone in almost all indoor public spaces.

And, to Kai’s credit, what could be more interesting than eating authentic ramen at a highly-coveted restaurant in Tokyo? My guess is nothing you’re looking at on Instagram.


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