Oh, and it has about half the carbs of regular ramen too.

Ramen, generally, falls into the “it tastes good, but isn’t actually all that good for you” category of food. Yes, few things are more psychologically satisfying than digging in to some really good ramen, but if we’re being totally honest, there are an awful lot of empty calories in the bowl.

But we recently came across a way to ease our guilty hearts without denying our covetous taste buds the deliciousness they crave.

Gusto is what Japan calls a “family restaurant” chain, which is the same classification that casual restaurants where you’ll find Denny’s and the like. Like most family restaurants, Gusto, which has branches all over Japan, offers a mix of Western and Japanese-style dishes, and you’ll find a few types of ramen on the menu, one of which has the lengthy name Salt-Soup Ramen with One Day’s Worth of Vegetables.

▼ We’re just gonna call it the Veggie Ramen from here on.

Gusto’s Veggie Ramen is part of the tanmen noodle tradition, which packs a lot more vegetables into the bowl that other types of ramen. For the Veggie Ramen, though, Gusto has gone beyond even the normal tanmen standards, and the restaurant claims that a single bowl gives you all the vegetables your body needs for the day.

Despite this noble ideal, however, the Veggie Ramen is as appealing as any other guilty-pleasure bowl of ramen. The broth, for example, doesn’t require any qualifiers like “tasty for healthy ramen” or “pretty good when you consider how healthy the dish is.” It’s just good-tasting broth, like we’re used to getting here in Japan, a country with a highly developed, and competitive, ramen culture.

▼ The broth is low on greasiness, with a clean finish.

As you can see, Gusto’s Veggie Ramen comes with cabbage, bean sprouts, carrots, and spinach. But the vegetables you get aren’t only in the toppings, but in the noodles themselves too!

Gusto’s Veggie Ramen uses spinach noodles, which provide a number of advantages. First, you get even more nutritious vegetable content. Second, the spinach noodles mean 45 percent fewer carbohydrates compared to normal noodles, if you’re watching your carb count. And finally, compared to some other “healthy ramen” noodle substitutes, like essentially flavorless konnyaku gelatin, Gusto’s spinach noodles add to the dish’s overall taste profile in a way that goes great with the broth and toppings.

Speaking of numerical nutrition, Gusto says the Veggie Ramen has 401 calories in its noodles and toppings, plus 1.3 grams of sodium. Drinking all of the broth will add 124 calories and 6.5 grams of salt, but since drinking every last drop of ramen broth is optional in Japan, and something not even all noodle fans do, the Veggie Ramen is capable of being a sub-500-calorie meal, and also one that costs only 799 yen (US$7.40),

▼ You also get some pork with the Veggie Ramen

The whole package is so good and guilt-free that we can see ourselves making Gusto’s Veggie Ramen a regular part of our eating-out rotation, especially if we don’t feel like making some ultra-healthy instant ramen ourselves, or as a counterbalance to some of our more decadently indulgent ramen meals, like the noodles topped with gold we ate the other day.

Related: Gusto location list
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