Monday, August 17, 2015

Cup Noodle Vegeta Cabbage and Bacon Is Yummy!

When I saw the Nissin commercial on Youtube for Cup Noodle Vegeta Cabbage and Bacon I knew I had to try it.  Vegeta is one of the Super Saiyan who travel to Earth to battle evil in the anime series Dragon Ball Z.  His name is a pun on the word vegetable and now Nissin has made a cup noodle as a play on his name!  My sister was kind enough to bring me a couple back from Japan as a souvenir, making me very happy.
Vegeta Cup Noodle is the regular size cup noodle in the middle for comparison to BIG cup and MINI cup. Unforunately the Tonkotsu was eaten before I could review it (sad...)
Official Nissin Ad from their channel.  They take down stuff every so often, so here's to hoping they keep it for awhile.

Anyhow, this cup noodle sure sounds healthy as it is supposed to provide a third of your daily vegetables.  I'm not sure I can believe that, but there were a lot of dehydrated vegetables in the cup.  I kind of wish that all cup noodles came with this many vegetables for toppings.
Lots of veggies inside the cup on top of the noodles. It was generously covered in vegetables.
The ingredients that come with this cup of noodle are: cabbage, onions, bok choy, fried potatoes, red pepper, yellow peppers, and some bacon pieces.  As soon as I peeled open the top, the scent of vegetables wafted out.  I added the hot water and waited out the three minutes for the noodles to cook.
The veggies rehydrated very nicely and it looked quite nice.  You could see larger pieces of the red and yellow peppers and big cubes of potato, and little slices bits of bacon.  It was very colorful between the dark green of the bok choy, the lighter green of the cabbage, the red and yellow of the peppers, the white of the potato, and the light golden broth.

The broth itself was a mild in flavour with a bit of a hit from spices and salt.  Very agreeable and it went very nice with all of the vegetables.  This was an enjoyable cup of noodle and I hope they make more vegetable rich instant noodles like this in the future.

More instant ramen reviews and Japanese pop culture posts.

Monday, August 3, 2015

Ramen Street at Tokyo Station and Ichiran in Shibuya

I tried to make sure I had a daily dose of ramen goodness when I was in Tokyo last.  I checked out various ramen shops, but concentrated on the ramen shops at Tokyo Station and ate at three separate shops.  Tokyo Station is an awesome microcosm of everything Japan and that includes ramen down at Ramen Street in the basement there.  The anime "Food Wars! Shokugeki no Soma" summarized this in episode 17 when the protagonist Yukihira Soma basically describes the renovations at the local train station as one of those cities inside a station concepts.

There has been plenty written about the ramen noodle soup at Tokyo Station, but here is my take on it.  There were long lines at some restaurants and I basically passed on some of these as I was tired after long days of sightseeing, but you can definitely get into the shop of your choice with a short wait most of the time.
Ramen Street side hall.  The shops are clustered in the main hallway and down here.
Ramen Street side hall. Sign showing 8 ramen shops.
The Ramen Shops.
The first shop I checked out didn't have a line when I arrived, but after a brief look around I came back and a fifteen minute wait had formed.  So I went to another shop to eat as all of the ramen looked so good anyways.  I can't say I had a favourite as they were all good and had distinct flavours.

I ended up at Oreshiki Jun, and had a thick, darkish, pork ramen that was full of flavour.  You get your ramen within a few minutes of handing your tickets to the waiter.  You get seating at either a long table and everyone eats quickly after being served.  You don't have to inhale your food so you can savour it, but loitering isn't cool.
Oreshiki Jun
Ordering machine.  Make your choices and insert case or use your PASMO card and pick up the ticket(s) for your food.
A very flavourful, strong ramen soup with yummy pork and eggs.
A few nights later I tried out another tonkotsu (pork bone) broth based ramen at Ikaruga.  The broth here was still very flavourful, but not as dark and thick as the last place.  I ordered an extra egg as I love ramen eggs and enjoyed a very tasty bowl of ramen. 
Ordering machine.  You can always use the top left hand button if you can't decide as it is usually a shop recommendation.  Also add in side orders of gyoza, extra pork, etc., if you need to.
Tasty broth, nice fatty pieces of pork, bamboo shoots, and lots of eggs!
Finally, I went to Hirugao and had one of their deluxe ramens.  This is a branch of a larger chain, but the soup was still good.  It was more of a lighter shio (salt + chicken?) broth with plenty of ramen toppings.  There was actually a pretty good crowd for this place when I went and I think the ladies that were there were enjoying the lighter broth (not quite so heavy).
Hirugao poster.  I had the No. 1
It was good and kind of reminded me a bit of wonton soup stock (the good kind and not from powder).  There was a small shrimp on the egg.  Yummy.

That kind of concludes a brief look at the ramen shops of Tokyo Station Ramen Street.  I will add that I had ramen in a few other places too and I finally tried Ichiran, a noodle shop chain I had heard people rave about.  When I went to have a more in-depth look at Shibuya, I stopped in for an early dinner and a very brief lineup.  They have several shops in Shibuya too and I went to the second one I think which was down some stairs and in a basement.  There was one narrow aisle of booths and each booth is divided off from the others to encourage your ramen enjoyment and not chit chat.

Entrance to Ichiran
Ichiran tonkatsu ramen.
The ramen here actually had a really tasty broth and the noodles were thinner than some of the other places but they had a good texture.  I would definitely eat at an Ichiran again so the ravings about this chain are kind of spot on.  You order your ramen at the machine, get directed to a seat, then you fill in a short form to customize your ramen prep the way you want.  A cook picks up your ticket and form and ramen is delivered shortly afterwards.

More ramen and Japanese pop culture posts.