What was supposed to be a simple taste test makes Mr. Sato take another look at his gourmet writer credentials.

Wei-Pa is a popular Chinese seasoning sold here in Japan, and its distributor headquarters are based in Kobe City in Hyogo Prefecture. Kobe City might be better known for its world famous Kobe beef, but Wei-Pa is so well loved that special packets of Wei-Pa ramen noodles are sold throughout Kobe as local souvenirs. Wei-Pa’s distributors Kouki Shougyou even have a Wei-Pa store in Nankin-machi, also known as Kobe’s Chinatown.

Unfortunately, this fact passed our crack reporter Mr. Sato by, as he recently visited Kobe completely unaware of Wei-Pa’s Kobe roots, and even walked around Nankin-machi several times without noticing the Wei-Pa store.

Such an oversight was unlike Mr. Sato, who usually has a keen eye for spotting local hidden gems. So what caused such a rookie error?

Either way, it wasn’t all bad news for Mr. Sato, as he popped into a souvenir shop at Shin-Kobe Station on his way back to Tokyo and managed to find some packets of Wei-Pa ramen by chance. They were around 250 yen (US$1.88) a pack, although he lost the receipt and isn’t quite sure. Mr. Sato… are you OK?!

And so the packet of Wei-Pa ramen made the journey back to Tokyo in Mr. Sato’s bag… where it remained hidden until around a month later, when Mr. Sato was feeling peckish but too lazy to go out and buy lunch. It was then (and only then) that he remembered his souvenir ramen, and rushed to look in his travel bag, finding the packet nestled sadly at the very bottom. He’d packed away his travel bag without even taking out the contents first. Mr. Sato… have you finally upgraded from ossan to grandpa? Are you going to start every sentence with “Back in my day…”?

The packet contained two servings of ramen noodles with two sachets of soup paste. And if you look closely at the noodles…

… you can see a cheerful face waving, and it seems that this man is the chairman of Kouki Shougyou. “These would make good designs for masking tape,” Mr. Sato mused as he removed the tape from around the noodles.

Cooking the ramen was, like most instant ramen, pretty straightforward — put the noodles in boiling water for three minutes…

… and then add the soup paste. Mix in the paste gently and transfer to a bowl to serve.

And that’s it! You can add toppings like char siu pork or green onions to make it more fancy, but Mr. Sato is a simple man; as long as the noodles and broth taste good, he doesn’t need anything more.

Luckily for Mr. Sato, the ramen was very tasty, and made him feel like he was in a Chinese restaurant. He started to feel a little guilty that he’d left something that tasted so great unattended in a bag, shoved in his closet, for over a month, but boy was he glad that he’d remembered it. The familiar taste of the Wei-Pa spices with the tasty noodles was absolutely delicious. He slurped up his last noodles, pleased with the fact that he’d found a tasty, hidden gem only found in Kobe City.

But then, after a quick Google search, Mr. Sato discovered that Wei-Pa ramen can easily be bought outside of Kobe; it’s available on Amazon and can even be found in stores like Village Vanguard. Mr. Sato had gone all the way to Kobe to buy ramen you can literally buy anywhere in Japan.

So all in all, Mr. Sato’s journey with Wei-Pa ramen was a delicious one, but definitely one that caused him to reflect on his actions. It was a miracle that he’d managed to accidentally stumble upon a store selling the ramen to start with, but add to that the fact he then lost the receipt, and then forgot about the ramen entirely for a month, and it would be easy to say that Mr. Sato has lost his touch, and maybe he’s getting too old for this gourmet writing malarky.

However, we here at SoraNews24 know better, and we know the real reason for Mr. Sato’s blunders is that he’s still physically recovering from eating a huge melon bread. Taking on such a monster understandably requires an adequate amount of rest to recover, and Mr. Sato clearly needed a bit more time before he dove back into the fray of gourmet reporting.

We’ll let it slide this time, Mr. Sato.

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