|Tan tan ramen with pork belly, soft boiled egg, wood ear mushrooms and fishcake made with Sun Noodle ramen kits|
Over the past few months, I've noticed more and more interesting food products in stores and such that I think either demonstrate a lot of creativity on the company's part or have the potential to really change how we cook at home. I think I will post about these such products from time to time in posts under the umbrella of "game-changing products".
One such product is Sun Noodle's ramen kits. I first read about these on Serious Eats, and was (semi-)shocked to learn that many of the great ramen places I've been to around NYC use noodles from this company. I also wasn't too surprised because from my own experience attempting to make hand-pulled noodles, I was skeptical that so many restaurants would be capable of consistently making noodles of such great texture and thinness. I did also notice that many ramen joints' noodles were suspiciously similar in appearance and texture.
|Sun Noodle ramen kits|
What are they?
Ramen kits each contain two servings: two bundles of fresh (not dry) noodles and two small pouches of soup base. So far, I have found 6 products, ranked from my personal favorite to least favorite in preference:
- Tan Tan Ramen - a mildly spicy and sesame-tasting soup base, with thicker ramen noodles
- Tonkotsu Ramen - a very close second, the soup base is rich, white, cloudy, and rich with pork flavor although not very gelatinous, and comes with the thinnest ramen noodles.
- Shoyu Ramen (not pictured) - a lighter more standard broth, with thicker ramen nodles
- Kaedama - not actually a kit, just packets of noodles with no soup base
- Miso Ramen - the first time I had this the broth tasted strongly of carrots and somewhat artificial, although subsequent kits I've had have tasted fine and on-par with the shoyu broth. Comes with thicker ramen noodles Based on the ingredients, this is the only vegan-friendly kit.
- Hiyashi Chuka - meant to be served as a cold ramen dish, this was by far the worst. I believe the soup base contains high fructose corn syrup, and it tastes like it. The noodles are the thicker variety
How do they work?
To prepare these kits, you first open the soup base packet into a bowl, and add about 1 cup of warm or hot water. Then, boil about 2-4 cups water and add in the noodles for the recommended time, typically no more than 2 minutes (for firmer texture I typically subtract 30 seconds or so). Immediately drain the noodles and add them to the soup base. Top your ramen with any desired extras.
Why are these game-changing?
A problem with conveniently available ramen is that it comes at two extremes: either as packaged instant ramen, or in restaurants. Naturally, the price and quality are what you would expect at each extreme, with ramen like Maruchan running at around 50 cents or less a package, and restaurants charging $15-30 for a bowl. In terms of quality, instant ramen don't quite have restaurant quality ramen noodle texture, and we all know what the broth tastes like. Sun noodle ramen kits, however, are disruptive to both of these fields. Each kit costs about $4, with the same noodles as those used in restaurants. I can easily say that the ramen kits' broths are on-par or better than the average ramen restaurant I've been to. The finished product is waaaay more satisfying than instant ramen, has no preservatives added, and is prepared with the same amount of effort and time. They store in the freezer easily, making them just as convenient to have on-hand as instant ramen. Lastly, they are versatile, and can be jazzed up with whatever you have around the kitchen. For instance..
|I was on a ribs-kick for a while. Left: hoisin-glazed pork ribs, Right: bbq beef short ribs|
|Sun Noodle tan tan ramen with beef short ribs|
|Sun Noodle Kaedama with leftover rib scraps, sesame tare and pork rib bone broth|
I hope that's inspired you all to go out and try making some quality ramen at home! I've found the kits at some Whole Foods and at most H-marts in multiple states, with a list of stores here.