Flavour: Japanese Style Noodles With Soup Base: Soybean Paste Flavor
Identifiables: noodle brick, flavour powder, soup base
Sodium: 3.16 grams
Does whatever a ramen can
Is it good? Listen, dude
It is cheaper than real food
Look out! Here comes the Maruchan!
(apologies to Stan Lee)
All right, so the brand isn't Maruchan, but practically everyone has eaten Maruchan already and it fit the song, so cut me some slack. In fact, today's brand wouldn't fit in any song, except maybe one of the hyper ones that you hear at the start of any given cartoon aimed at the too-young-to-know-better (or too-otaku-to-have-sense) set. I tried finding a shorter brand name, but to no avail. This stuff is straight from Tokyo, baby.
I read the back of the package, dodging Japanese all the way. Aside from finding that it contains "soy, wheat, fishes and milk ingredients", I spotted the directions. They read, quite simply (and as verbatim as possible):
1. Add noodles to 2½cups boiling water. Simmer 4 minutes, stirring occasionally.
2. Remove from heat. Mix in contents of both dry and liquid seasoning packets.
That's it. Nowhere does it say "enjoy" or "serve" or even just plain "eat". Was the assumption that I would know what to do with it once I got the rest done, or was this omission perhaps a subtle warning? Japan, like the southern U.S., is a land riddled with foods which seem to have been devised primarily for the purpose of placing bets. I found myself in a gamble.
Upon opening the paper wrapper – no, really, it's glossy paper, like dry soup mixes often come in – I found a depressed-looking (read: slightly trapezoidal) yellow noodle brick and two packets labelled entirely in Japanese. The noodles went into Johann's boiling water, and almost instantly I detected a somewhat eggy smell, even though there's nothing egg-related in the ingredient list. I spent four minutes wondering if I had been taken in by a flashy package once too often. Once the time was up, I tossed in the flavour powder, squeezed the paste-like red-orange contents of the soup base packet into the pot, and stirred.
A familiar sesame-and-soy scent tickled me. The little dishes of sauce often served with pot stickers? Yeah, that was precisely the smell of the finished soup. Good news for those who enjoy that stuff, because this is like a bowl full of an orange-coloured noodle-soup version of that oily, sweet goodness, complete with sesame seeds and little bits of onion. Once my chopsticks got going, they didn't stop. The odds may have been against me, but once more, I triumphed. About the only downside is well, this stuff is incredibly salty, and as tasty as the broth is, it's very oily, so the gamble with taste may end up being a gamble with, uh... well, let's just wrap this up and say: With great ramen comes great responsibility.
Have you ever actually listened to the lyrics to the Spiderman theme? Oh, man.
Numbers: packaging 3, preparation 2, heat 2, flavour 4, overall 4
Music: Ramones - Saturday Morning Cartoons' Greatest Hits - Spiderman