Could vegan friendly noodles be the future for ramen? Our reporter finds out!

Vegan products have become more and more popular in Japan over the past couple of years, and now that trend has made its way to the ramen aisle in the supermarket.

Ramen noodles are made of wheat flour, water, and salt, so they’re vegan-friendly. But it’s the broth that usually contains animal products — traditionally, ramen broth contains dashi (a family of fish and vegetable stocks) and other animal-based stocks.

We came across this packet of ramen in the supermarket recently from a company called Osawa. The ramen was called “Veggie Brown Rice Ramen” and claimed to be vegan-friendly, so we decided to try it out. There were three varieties of ramen available, soy sauce broth, miso broth, and dan dan noodles, with the first two costing 246 yen (US$1.77) and the dan dan noodles slightly pricier at 300 yen. All three flavours had “for vegan” on the front.

First off, we tried the miso ramen. The soy sauce broth was pretty much going to taste good regardless, and the dan dan noodles might be a bit too spicy to eat first out of the three, but our assigned taste tester Takashi Harada wasn’t feeling overly excited about the miso ramen, so he decided to get the ‘dud’ flavour out of the way first.

The miso ramen contained some dry noodles and a packet of broth powder. Just like normal instant noodles, you put the noodles in boiling water and mix in the broth at the finish.

If you didn’t know better, the Veggie Brown Rice Ramen just looks like a regular bowl of ramen. How would it taste though?

If Takashi was being completely honest, the taste was a little bit lacking compared to regular ramen. It was certainly tasty enough, but not as flavourful as non-vegan ramen.

However, it was very filling. Even though it was 80 grams of ramen noodles, Takashi felt himself getting pretty satisfied after just one plain bowl of ramen.

Next up was the soy sauce flavour ramen, in which the broth ended up being the complete opposite experience of the miso ramen’s. The noodles were thin and kind of bland, like the miso ramen was, but the broth was where this ramen really shone.

It felt a little like he was eating Chinese soba noodles, and at several points during the meal Takashi had to remind himself that this meal was indeed vegan.

Last up were the dan dan noodles. The noodles themselves tasted the same as the noodles in the miso and the soy sauce packets, but…

The broth really elevated this ramen to a new level of deliciousness. It was the kind of soup broth that you can’t stop drinking. There was a definite hit of spice, but it wasn’t so hot that it was unbearable. The level up in taste definitely made up for the fact that the dan dan noodles were slightly more expensive than the other two.

The package recommends adding vegetables such as green onions and spinach, or soy-based meat, to the vegan ramen. This would make it more like regular ramen, to the point where it may be indistinguishable from regular ramen, even.

At the time of writing, there are five different kinds of Veggie Brown Rice Ramen:  shio (salt), sesame, miso, soy sauce, and dan dan noodles. Takashi particularly enjoyed the dan dan noodles, which had a nice spicy kick, and the soy sauce noodles, but all in all was pretty impressed by the variety of ideas that went into the creation of these noodles.

And while these packets of vegan ramen certainly aren’t as photogenic as say, the ones on sale at the TeamLab exhibit, they’re certainly a lot easier to get (and cheaper, too!).

Photos © SoraNews24
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