After the success of its mystery meat flavor, Cup Noodle turns its ingenuity to the sea and one of Japan’s most expensive ingredients.

Sea urchin, or uni, as it’s called in Japanese, is considered quite the delicacy in Japan, and with the price to match. It’s always one of the most expensive items on the menu at seafood restaurants, and even at inexpensive conveyor belt sushi joints you can expect to pay 400 yen (US$3.50) or so for a plate of just two pieces.

So when Nissin, the makers of the world-famous Cup Noodle brand, announced a new uni instant ramen, they had our attention, as well as a spot on our lunch menu.

11-19 was the release day for the new Cup Noodle Rich Luxuriously Flavorful Sea Urchin Cream flavor, and we snagged a cup as soon as we could. However, Nissin is upfront about telling us that this isn’t regular uni, but “hobo uni” (“almost uni”), with its sea urchin stand-in being a mixture consisting of 6.9 percent actual uni, sort of like its bean-based “mystery meat” which quickly became one of the brand’s most popular flavors.

Taking a peek at the ingredients before cooking, we saw a number of orange crescents sitting atop the noodles, similar in color to the uni seen at sushi restaurants.

Like with most instant noodles sold in Japan, the uni Cup Noodle takes three minutes to cook, so we filled the container with boiling water and waited, then stirred in the included packet of broth flavoring.

▼ Cooking the “hobo uni” softened up its curvature just a bit.

As we stirred the broth, a buttery aroma wafted up towards us, promising strong flavors even before we’d taken our first taste.

The noodles for the Cup Noodle Rich Luxuriously Flavorful Sea Urchin Cream are slightly thinner than those used in regular Cup Noodle varieties. They don’t taste any different, but they do lend a bit of an elegant atmosphere, and serve to remind you that you’re eating a special flavor. Meanwhile, the broth is as creamy and flavorful as its scent had led us to expect. It’s almost like a western-style white sauce, and the way it warmed us up had us thinking it’ll be great way to fight off the quickly approaching winter cold.

But of course, the main thing we were here for was the uni. So we picked up one of the crescents with our chopsticks and popped it in our mouth.

Initially, the flavor of the “hobo uni” matches the broth, but as we chewed, gradually the uniquely oceanic creaminess of uni made its presence felt. However, it never quite got to the same depth of flavor you get from eating a piece of actual uni sushi. Instead, the effect is more like eating uni-flavored snack food.

But like we said, Nissin doesn’t call this uni ramen, it calls it “almost uni” ramen. Personally, we think “sort of uni” would be the more accurate description, but that doesn’t mean it tastes bad at all, and at just 210 yen, this is an inexpensive and convenient way to get a bit of your uni fix.

Photos ©SoraNews24
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