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When eating ramen, a Japanese person commented on how the ramen of this shop are 丁寧.

What does 丁寧 means in the context of food?

丁寧 means polite in social contexts, but I am not sure it the same kanji/word, and I know no concept of polite food.

Google has tons of results for 丁寧な寿司 or 丁寧なラーメン, so I am sure there is a precise meaning.
See also these 丁寧 breads.

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Neither 丁寧な寿司 nor 丁寧なラーメン sounds natural to me, although I understand it as 丁寧に作られた寿司/ラーメン. I think that 丁寧 usually describes a person or an action, but not a result of an action (however, this is not a hard rule because we do say 丁寧な字). Note that many of the search results of your link contain both 丁寧 and 寿司 but not 丁寧な寿司, and also some of the appearances of 丁寧な寿司 are part of the longer phrases such as 丁寧な寿司屋. – Tsuyoshi Ito Oct 22 '12 at 21:42

丁寧 (ていねい ) is an "na-adjective/adverb" with two meanings, (1) polite (as you know) and (2) careful or conscientous.

The second meaning can apply to the way something is made, prepared or wrapped. I imagine your friend was referring to the way the ramen was made but for food (in general) there could be situations when any one of those three could apply.

However, these two meanings shouldn't be considered to be completely unrelated. The following examples illustrate how when you are being polite, you are paying close attention to details to make special consideration for somebody, etc.

1. Polite/courteous sense 〔礼儀正しいこと/丁重で親切なこと〕

丁寧な口のきき方をする|He has a polite manner of speaking.

彼は丁寧に名刺を受け取った|He took my card courteously.


There is no warmth in his manner of speaking, but he is at least civil.

丁寧にさよならを言って出て行った|Saying good-bye politely, he went out.

2 Careful, conscientious sense〔注意深い,念入りな〕

人形を丁寧に紙に包んだ|She carefully wrapped the doll in paper.

彼は丁寧に説明してくれた|He gave me a detailed explanation of it.

彼は何事も丁寧にする|He is conscientious in everything.

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The two definitions shouldn't be considered separate though. The idea is when you are being polite, you are paying close attention to details to make special consideration for somebody, etc. – Jesse Good Oct 22 '12 at 9:52
Yes, good point. I shall add that to my answer when I review it. Thank you. – Tim Oct 22 '12 at 10:54

In this case 丁寧 means taking care, carefully and can be with love.

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I heard this expression once again, from another group of Japanese people.
They were discussing passionately which ramen shop they should head to.
I asked them the definition of 丁寧なラーメン and they gave me a full definition:

Ramen that can be called 丁寧 are さっぱり, either 醤油 or 塩 (豚骨 can never be 丁寧).
They are usually 細麺 and in served in small quantity (上品).

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