I’m a simple man. To misquote Game of Thrones’ Tyrion Lannister, I eat, and I write things. So when the opportunity presented itself to combine the two thanks to Ramen Hero’s new meatless ramen meal kits, I couldn’t pass it up.
Authentic ramen — what Ramen Hero founder Hiro Hasegawa describes as honkaku ramen — isn’t easy to come by. Ramen Hero sought to solve that dilemma with meal kits shipped straight to your door, complete with the necessary ingredients and instructions to prepare the dish. A pair of meatless options, Hippie Van and Miso Impossible, launched today, and I got to the bottom of the broth with both.
My delivery from Ramen Hero came carefully packaged, with the appropriate cooling devices to keep the kits fresh during transit. We received three kits in total – the two meatless options and a Crying Samurai ramen that featured roasted pork belly. For the purposes of this review, we focused on the meatless options.
Each kit came in what is essentially a customized freezer bag, with the instructions clearly printed on the front. Inside the bag, I found all the individually packaged ingredients I would need to make my ramen. They’re mostly identical for both kits: A vegan meat ragu, roasted tomato, a bell pepper and zucchini blend, and seaweed. The main difference was in the broth, with the Hippie Van featuring a soy sauce-infused broth and the Miso Impossible relying on a miso-based vegan broth.
Everything looked in good, albeit frozen shape — no discolored veggies or other irregularities to report. It’s usually tough to ensure freshness in food that’s being shipped around the country before you prepare it, but I had zero complaints with the shape my kits arrived in.
Interestingly, each individual kit includes a single serving. Ramen Hero’s website is currently selling packs of four and six to meet a surge in demand, with prices ranging from $71 to $110.
Ramen Hero says that cooking one of these kits takes about 15 minutes, and requires a pair of pots, a bowl, scissors, tongs, a strainer, and a timer. It’s a five-step process, and it was a pretty simple undertaking to maneuver through.
Most of those 15 minutes stem from the time needed to boil water, eight cups each across two pots. After that, it’s a matter of heating the broth and toppings, which takes roughly 6 minutes, and cooking the noodles, with Ramen Hero providing different times depending on how firm or soft you like your noodle to be.
Within 15 minutes, or half an hour between the two kits, I had ramen ready to eat. Ramen Hero’s on-package instructions were clear and easy to follow, matching how simple it was to cook.
Ramen Hero touts its ramen as being “created by master ramen chefs” without common additives like artificial MSG (monosodium glutamate). According to Ramen Hero, these kits are designed to have high-quality ingredients that are as nutritious as they are tasty.
I won’t deny it. This is some good ramen. Not groundbreaking, order-it-for-my-last-meal good, but pretty good. Since I had a pair of kits, I experimented with the noodles – first a bit soft, then a bit firmer on the second go-round. Each time, they paired nicely with the tomato, bell pepper, and zucchini blend. I’ve never been much for seaweed, but my partner confirmed that it was a nice addition to the ramen. As for the vegan meat ragu, I’m biased toward the real stuff, but I found it to be a welcome substitute.
What about quantity? I split each kit with my partner. Operating in that fashion, you’d need a secondary course to pair with the ramen to ensure a full meal. But if you were eating for one, I’d say this is all you would need for a complete entrée.
My biggest (vegan) beef with the kits is they just didn’t vary greatly between the two options. Aside from different broths, which didn’t distinguish the flavor of each ramen as strongly as it should’ve, these kits had the same ingredients. While they both tasted good, it felt oddly close to having the same kit twice.
If you want good ramen, apparently, you’re going to have to pay for it. With its four-pack being the minimum order you can place for the time being, you’re paying at least $17 per ramen kit, depending on which pack you buy. A six-pack, meanwhile, comes out to about $18 per kit.
Ramen Hero is offering free shipping on all its orders right now, though, which is a bonus. But the writing is on the wall here. Authentic ramen isn’t cheap.
Ramen Hero’s meatless ramen kits came ready to prepare, with all the ingredients included, and both kits tasted good. But they are expensive, and there’s no getting around that. If you’re looking for good ramen, this is it. Just be prepared to pay the price.