Running out of the ramen restaurant to eat its instant version seconds afterwards on the street is the kind of reporting you won’t get anywhere else.

Japanese ramen chain Ichiran just released their first-ever instant ramen a few days ago, and after we tried it, we gave it the thumbs-up, figuring it was the next best thing to eating at the actual restaurant. However, because we’re ramen obsessed, we still weren’t satisfied with testing the noodles just once at home. What if we could taste the two versions side-by-side to really compare the difference between instant and freshly made in-store?

That’s what our Japanese-language reporter P.K. Sanjun wanted to do, but after we pointed out that bringing a kettle into the restaurant probably wouldn’t go over well with staff, he set out to do the next best thing: eat the instant noodles right outside the restaurant immediately after eating inside, while the broth of the original ramen was still wet on his lips.

▼ Ichiran says their new instant tonkotsu ramen took over 20 years to develop.

So, in the name of ramen research, P.K. took a colleague along to the nearest Ichiran, which was conveniently located a short walk from the office. The plan was for P.K. to head on in and eat a bowl of noodles, and when he returned, his teammate would be there with a piping hot bowl of instant noodles waiting for him.

It’d been a long time since P.K. had eaten at Ichiran, but as soon as he got a taste of the restaurant’s ramen, his taste buds instantly remembered the familiar flavour. Mellow and rich at the same time, the pork bone broth was hearty and delicious, while the flat noodles were chewy and moreish.

As he neared the bottom of the bowl, he turned all his receptors on to keep the flavours and textures vivid in his mind before racing out the door to compare it with the instant version.

He then hotfooted it out the door and ran across the road to his colleague, who was dutifully waiting for him, with the bowl already open for him to tuck into straight away. 

▼ So…how does it compare to the real thing, P.K.?

“Hmmm…it’s quite…different.”

Furrowing his brow in disappointment, P.K. said there was a difference in the noodles, which is to be expected because as anyone knows, instant noodles never have the same taste and texture as those served in a restaurant. However, the real problem for P.K. was the broth.

▼ It was nothing like this.

The cup ramen version was overwhelmingly lacking in terms of body. While the store’s broth is more like a soup, the cup ramen broth was like hot water, and there was a big gap in taste between the two.

▼ Take a look at P.K.’s roadside disappointment in the video below.

Still, it’s a near impossible task to create a rich pork bone broth with sachets and water, and what Ichiran has created is by no means bad. It just loses out to the competition, which is the store itself, and after thinking about it, P.K. reckons it recreates the real thing by about 70 percent.

Priced at 400 yen (US$3.79) each, the instant noodles are a good option for those staying home and avoiding restaurants right now due to the pandemic, and they’re less than half the price of a bowl of ramen in-store, which costs 980 yen.

Until things get back to normal, we definitely won’t be sticking our noses up at these, especially when we don’t even have to leave the house to get them as they can be purchased online. And that’s even more incentive for us to keep our homemade solo booth counter going in our kitchen to recreate the Ichiran restaurant experience!

Photos © SoraNews24
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