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Instant ramen gets by far the most attention, but it’s not Japan’s only quick-fix noodle dish. Peyangu-brand instant yakisoba (stir-fried noodles) are available in just about any convenience store, and are an established hit with kids and adults alike.

Similarly, although the country is rightfully known for its scrumptious sashimi, Japanese cuisine also includes several varieties of tasty fish roe, including ikura (salmon roe) as seen at sushi restaurants and popular white rice topping mentaiko (spicy cod roe).

This month Peyangu instant yakisoba with tarako (plain cod roe) went on sale. Unable to pass up this convergence of our gourmet and lazy tendencies, we picked up a couple packs right away.

The first difference we noticed from the regular Peyangu yakisoba is the tarako version’s eye-searingly pink packaging, the same color as tarako, if several levels more intense.

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Tarako can be eaten either raw or cooked, but raw is considered the best way to eat the high quality stuff. Peyangu claims the tarako sauce for their yakisoba is similar to the raw flavor, so even before we opened the package, we were expecting great things.

▼ The tarako sauce

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▼ The full lineup of flavorings, including cabbage and thinly-sliced seaweed

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We tore open the pack of cabbage and sprinkled it over the noodles, then filled the package with 500 ml (16.7 oz.) of hot water and waited three minutes for them to cook, although they’re ready to eat after two for those who prefer a firmer texture. After that, all you have to do is stir in the tarako sauce and top the whole thing with seaweed.

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Things started off well. As we mixed in the sauce, the steam still rising off the noodles carried a mouth-watering aroma to our nostrils. But as anyone who’s eaten a fancy scented-soap from their hotel room after one too many minibar whiskies can tell you, a pleasing fragrance doesn’t always make for a satisfying meal.

As soon as the tarako yakisoba hit out taste buds, we were filled with a soul-crushing disappointment. If you take a look at the dish in its finished state, it’s literally easy to see why. There’s simply not enough tarako sauce to even noticeably change the color of the noodles, much less give them any real flavor.

▼ Hmm…shouldn’t it be a little more pink?

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▼ Maybe we just need to go in for a closer look?

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▼ Nothing yet…

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That’s all?!

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In the best yakisoba, all of the ingredients work together as a team, and the sauce is supposed to be the leader of that team that ties all of the flavors together as a harmonious whole. What we have here is Lord of the Flies-style anarchy. Each of the components are off doing their own thing, regardless of how that brings the collective taste down several notches. Without a proper amount of sauce, none of the flavors synch up.

If anyone from Peyangu happens to be reading this article, we’d like to offer a few suggestions on how to improve the product, any one of which would be sufficient.

1. Double the amount of tarako sauce.
2. Package the product with 100 percent more tarako sauce
3. Increase the amount of tarako sauce to two times the current volume

Giving us a bittersweet glimpse of what might have been, what little sauce there is actually tastes really good. It’s honestly a crying shame there’s not more of it, but maybe our tears will add some salt to the noodles and finally give them some flavor.

▼ By the way, we could use more tarako!

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Photos: RocketNews24
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