Sunday, March 2, 2008

Review: Chicken Ramen

Nissin's Chicken Ramen is history in a bowl. At first glance, this instant is the usual squiggly noodles in brown translucent soup and its flavor is, at best, average but Chicken Ramen, invented by Nissin founder Momofuku Ando, holds the distinction of being the first instant ramen in the world. In fact, Chicken Ramen is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year, a feat that Mr. Ando, who passed away last year, will never get to witness. So what's the deal with this historic ramen then? Well, as mentioned, there is nothing particularly unique or interesting about it but it does have a sort of special air about it, an almost atmosphere about it that transcends time (yeah, I was reading the Sunday paper book reviews before I started writing this).

Within its standard plastic wrapper, there is a round cake of noodles. That's right, no multiple soup, oil, and freeze-dried vegetable packets; all of the flavor is already in the noodles themselves. There is a small divot on one side of the noodles and the basic idea is that it acts as an "egg pocket" as they call it. So, just put the dried noodles in bowl pocket up, crack a raw egg into it (ignore my picture during this step since my egg aiming skills are a bit lacking), add water, cover and wait three minutes and you'll be in Chicken Ramen heaven.

So, how is the flavor? Well, despite its name, I really don't detect any chicken flavoring in the soup at all. Of course, this could be in its favor because I normally HATE chicken-flavored instant ramen because it always ends up tasting like western-style chicken noodle soup and, if I wanted that, I'd have gone with Lipton's or Mrs. Grass', thank you. Nissin's version of chicken is a little salty with a slight burnt flavor to it. To tell you the truth, the first time I tasted it, I was a little off-put by this flavor but eventually grew to like, if not love, it. The noodles are pretty good, the squiggly kind but flat, not like the rounded type that are defacto in other instant ramen. One thing that's nice about them is that, unlike other brands, Nissin doesn't make this line of ramen oily, something that sometimes leads to an unpleasant aftertaste and/or odor while cooking.

Overall, Chicken Ramen is worth checking out, if only once, just for the historical aspects. As a whole, it's not a particularly filling experience but one which may get you through to the next meal. On the grading scale, this one gets a solid B.

Check out Yukie Nakama, in a recent commercial, enjoy hers "Indian style"with curry and cheese . Yes, I know she has better egg-aiming skills than me, you don't have to mention it. ;)

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