“A bowl of Ramen is a self-contained universe, with life from the sea, the mountains and the earth. All existing in perfect harmony.” ~ Ramen chef and sensei Maezumi
An Instagrammer by the handle #mitchopalooza told me about this new Ajinomoto Tokyo Style Shoyu Ramen with Chicken at Costco, saying it was pretty dang good, leaving me intrigued enough to go out and buy it ‘n try it.
Priced at $13.99, it comes in a fairly large box of 6 bowls, located in Costco’s freezer section where other “TV dinner” Asian ready-to-eat meals are merchandised, such as fried rice, pot stickers, more noodle bowls and such.
Famous for their MSG TV commercials, I remember “hanabata dayz”, us kids used to tease the Ajinomoto name, saying, “Ah, gee, no mo toe!” (Ah Jesus, no more toe!). Yeah, silly, but hey, kids can be that way. lol
Notice all the FRESH-FROZEN (not dry and dehydrated) ramen components are all self-contained, where you simply add water and “nuke” for 4 minutes, just like the dry Cup Noodle variant. More on that shortly.
At 390 calories with 8 grams total fat per bowl, somewhat reasonable, however at 1,850mg of sodium?! Holy Salty Dog, Batman!
Each red plastic microwaveable 268 gram bowl measures 6″ diameter (5¼” inside diameter at the top rim) x 2-3/8″ depth.
Along with the instructions, notice it says “Not labeled for individual retail sale.” My guess is because most vending machines that have refrigeration are just that, and not freezers, which this product requires for proper, safe storage and shelf life.
After peeling off the plastic film, while I was expecting this to come as a ramen bowl “kit”, with the toppings packed in its own individual vacuum-sealed wrappers, nope. Not like that. It’s all right there, arranged and ready to go on top of the what looks and feels to be par-cooked ramen noodles.
The marked water fill line is the second line down, 1″ below the rim of the bowl. Which to note the frozen toppings end up above the surface of the water as you place it in the microwave.
Exactly as instructed, in goes the ready-to-go bowl of ramen filled with water in my 1,100-watt microwave oven for 4 minutes. Your time may vary depending on the wattage of your microwave.
Here it is straight out of the microwave after 4 minutes of zap time, bubbling and foamy.
After some careful rearrangement of the chicken slices and veggie toppings, voila a nicely presented bowl of Ajinomoto’s Tokyo style Shoyu Ramen with Chicken. Lookin’ good so far! Of course never exactly like depicted on the packaging, but good enough for me!
As for the selection of toppings, I’m going C minus on this. I’m a purist when it comes to Tokyo style shoyu ramen, and A.) it should NOT have corn; B.) it should NOT have carrots; and C.) it should definitely NOT have red bell peppers! WTF?, and Where TF is the Menma (marinated bamboo shoots)?!!! Come on man! Breakin’ my balls man, breakin’ my balls. lol
Before anything else, we first must taste a sip of the broth, the “center of the ramen universe”. And? Not bad. Not bad at all. Again, I REALLY taste that chicken in there, where if it were slices of pork, would have tasted WAY better. Still, it’s definitely a respectable, I would say “loosely Tokyo style” shoyu ramen broth. I give the broth one thumb’s up. Not two, but still, really good!
Next, let’s slurp up loudly some ramen noodles. And? Not bad. Definitely tastes fresh, however not as fresh as nama ramen. On a Japanese ramen al dente scale of al dente perfection, with 1 being soggy as hell and 10 being perfectly “tight”, I’d give these ramen noodles a solid 8. Pretty dang good. Only thing, they don’t quite have that “eggy” flavor and slightly rubbery texture Japanese ramen noodles should have when properly made with kansui, also known as alkaline water. The alkaline water is potassium carbonate and sodium bi-carbonate, a solution that gives the ramen its yellow color, makes it springier, earthier, and generally just makes ramen ramen.” It says it has those ingredients, however perhaps the freezing is robbing it of that ideal characteristic. Not perfect like fresh ramen noodles, but pretty dang good.
The 1/4″ thick slices of chicken had a nice grilled flavor to the skin still attached, while being overall tasty, juicy ‘n tender. However, I totally wish they used pork instead of chicken. True Tokyo style shoyu ramen has to be served with Pork Chashu, not chicken! But hey, I bought into this, knowing that going in, so I can’t complain.
These red bell peppers, corn and carrots are really the main deal breaker here, making this taste almost like a “glorified Cup Noodle”. Which really is an insult, however it’s the truth. Had Ajinomoto done it RIGHT and simply put menma and perhaps maybe Choi Sum, that would have been WAY better. With this, sorry to say, but they’ve “Americanized” what they claim is “Tokyo Style” Shoyu Ramen. Not Tokyo at all with that stuff in it! At least not from the old school Tokyo style I’m familiar with in my travels there.
I will give them kudos for including sliced green onion, however true Tokyo style ramen uses thin slivers of just the white part of the stalks of Negi, a much larger Japanese green onion.
Summing it up, yeah, I’m feelin’ it. The veggies are a bad choice, but the execution and overall satisfaction in this “Tokyo Style” (not) Shoyu ramen with Chicken is there. The broth, noodles and chicken come together well. “Hemmo” da’ corn, bell pepper and carrots and add in your own Menma, along with perhaps a soft-boiled egg and this would be rockin’ it!
Compared to $10+ from a ramen-ya (ramen shop), at $2.33 per bowl from “Cosco’s” (lol), you really can’t go wrong for close to that fresh-made authentic restaurant quality, in a convenient ready-to-eat bowl, at home whenever you want, done in 5 minutes tops. While it’s not perfect, I still recommend buying it if you’re into Japanese Ramen. While I’m not “wowed”, neither am I disappointed. She go!
What? Ajinomoto® Tokyo-style Shoyu Ramen with Chicken
Where did you get it and how much? Costco Hawaii Kai, $13.99 per box of 6 bowls (in the freezer section)
Big shaka to: Fresh (frozen), non-dehydrated ingredients. Somewhat “true” Tokyo-style shoyu ramen broth flavor (way better if it was pork). Generous portion of tender, moist and tasty chicken slices. Ramen noodles have pretty much on-point ramen-ya quality texture. Filling (one of these and you should be good!). Close to Ramen-ya quality in a convenient, ready-to-eat bowl, done in less than 5 minutes. Excellent value considering quality and execution compared to cheap Cup Noodle “dorm grub”.
No shaka to: Corn, red bell peppers and carrots are a NO-NO in Japanese Ramen in my book! Save that for American BBQ! No inclusion of menma (marinated bamboo shoots) is a major bummer.
The Tasty Island rating: 2 SPAM Musubi (good). Note: swap the carrots, red bell pepper and corn for menma, and this would have easily elevated to 4 Musubi!
P.S. Coming next: a review of Nonghim Udon, also from Costco:
Related items currently available at Costco (in this case Hawaii Kai) in the freezer section: