When you visit Japan, one of the fun things to do is to go shopping at supermarkets and convenience stores to make you feel the slight difference in culture. Here are five instant ramen in pouches that are available in supermarkets and convenience stores which will make perfect souvenirs from your trip to Japan.
1. Maruchan Seimen Shoyu (Toyo Suisan)
Maruchan Seimen Shoyu (soy sauce) contains smooth and chewy noodles in a soy sauce-based broth that is filled with the distinct flavor of potherbs. Although the noodles in this ramen are dried through Toyo Suisan’s own patented manufacturing method, their taste and texture will still make you feel like you’re eating fresh noodles. The great thing about instant ramen is that it is easy to prepare. All you have to do is follow the prescribed boiling time of the noodles and the amount of hot water poured to dissolve the soup, although the actual taste may slightly change depending on your preference. When preparing instant ramen, however, be careful about the boiling time. Now aside from the famous soy sauce flavor with a refreshing taste, Maruchan Seimen also comes in miso, tonkotsu (made from pork bones), and salt flavors, so check them out, too.
2. Chikin Ramen (Nissei Foods)
Debuting in the market in 1958, Chikin Ramen (chicken ramen) is said to be the first instant ramen in the world. Unlike the other pouched instant ramen noodles out there, the noodles in this ramen do not have to be boiled in a pot, as they can be prepared in a bowl. It contains flavored dried noodles, so it does not come with a separate soup base and ingredients/flavorings. Just put the noodles in a bowl, pour some hot water, cover the bowl and wait three minutes, and you’ll have your noodles in no time. The secret to the success of this product is that like cup ramen, it is really easy to prepare. Another characteristic of this ramen is that it has a space in the middle of the dried noodles, so you can put an egg in there, if you like. The compatibility is simply perfect between the curly noodles and the soup that uses soy sauce made from organic soybeans in the concentrated soup that is extracted from slowly boiling domestically raised chicken with spices. It is also a great idea for a souvenir!
3. Umakachan (House Foods)
Umakachan is tremendously popular in Kyushu, where tonkotsu ramen has always been more commonly eaten than soy sauce-based ramen. This particular ramen was sold in 1979 with an eye on the Kyushu market. It also pioneered the local instant ramen trend. The soup is a tonkotsu soup that is made by mixing vegetables and spices with the tonkotsu base. It comes in various flavors, including Kobashi Ninniku (aromatic garlic) and Karashi Takana (pickled mustard and chili). It is mainly sold in the Kinki, Chugoku, Shikoku, Kyushu and Okinawa regions. Now while it might be quite difficult to get hold of this ramen in other areas, it does have a reputation for being super delicious, so if you see it, then go get some!
4. Sapporo Ichiban Miso Ramen (Sanyo Foods)
Sapporo Ichiban Miso Ramen was launched in 1968. It is known for its soup that uses pork as base and then superbly blends it with eight types of miso that are known for their distinct flavors and aromas, including red miso. Its soup has a deep taste from the potherbs with a rich scent that are used in making it. Miso is kneaded in the noodles and lard is used in order to produce a sense of oneness with the refreshingly tasty soup. Now mimic the ramen masters that arrange the ingredients any which way they like, and add butter, stir-fried vegetables and other toppings to boost this instant ramen’s delicious taste by a notch.
5. Chuka Zanmai Tantanmen (Myojo Foods)
Known for its rich soup that uses Chinese ingredients and Chinese soy sauce, Chuka Zanmai Tantanmen is an instant ramen that was created with tantanmen (noodles with a sauce of sesame paste and chili oil), an authentic high-class Chinese dish, in mind. It uses non-fried noodles. With noodles that are firm, chewy and smooth in texture, and a broth that has such a deep taste thanks to the use of zhi ma jiang (processed soy sauce and paste sesame) and spicy Sichuan pepper, you will get to experience a delicious taste that surpasses that of any instant ramen in a single bite. You must try to make authentic tantanmen in your own home with this ramen!
The development of instant ramen that originated from Japan is still progressing, with new flavors constantly being released and methods for making noodles evolving. This type of ramen is perfect as a souvenir becaues it costs just about 100 - 150 JPY per pack and it's also very light to carry! Try them all and find the one you like best!
*Please note that the information in this article is from the time of writing or publication and may differ from the latest information.