When you go ramen restaurants, often the utensils and condiments are available on the counter for you to grab at your own will. it’s one of the features that make eating ramen quick for salarymen on the go, and of course speady service means customers come and go quicker which is important for the normal ramen eatery.
See, space is limited, and ramen places are usually very small. The food prep area and bar or tables are usually in the same room. In fact, usually the seating area is bar-styled and wraps around the food prep area so that when they finish your ramen all they have to do is set it down over the bar. this eliminates the need to leave the kitchen area or use a trey. Time savers!
So anyhow, the condiments are usually all laid out there on the bar or table for you to grab yourself. often even the water is done this way. There will be pitchers of water laid out within reach of each diner. you refil your own glass.
Lately Ive noticed several ramen restaurants have a thick charcoal block in their water pitchers. I believe it is supposed to purify the water as well as make it taste better and make it healthier.
Here are some pages i found interesting.:
(pics are my own-links are just stuff i found on the net)