Over a year in the making, these noodles bring the taste of Japan’s most popular ramen chain into your kitchen.

There are a number of popular ramen chains in Japan, and one of them is Tenkaippin, which has made a name for itself with its signature kotteri (“thick” or “rich”) chicken-based broth and its round red-and-white logo, which some people say resembles a stop sign on the road.

For fans of Tenkaippin, or Ten Ichi, as it’s commonly known, this logo is enough to stop them in their tracks whenever they see it. That’s what happened to our very own Ten Ichi fan, Daiki Nishimoto, when he saw the logo in the refrigerated section of his local Lawson convenience store recently.

▼ As he took a closer look, his jaw dropped a little as he discovered these were Tenkaippin microwaveable noodles.

A number of reputable ramen chains in Japan have teamed up with convenience stores in the past to sell their famous noodles in instant form, but this was the first time he’d seen a microwaveable variety. The clear plastic on top allowed him to see exactly what was inside, and to him, it looked just like the Kotteri Ramen he’d normally order at a branch of Tenkippin.

He wasted no time in purchasing one of the meals, and as he made his way home to try it he did a bit of research on it, where he found that the ramen was part of an exclusive collaboration with Lawson that began on 26 February. The noodles were the first tie-up product to be released, priced at 646 yen (US$4.30), followed by Tenkippin Fried Rice (592 yen) and Kotteri Karaage-kun (259 yen) — “Karaage-kun” are Lawson’s beloved chicken nuggets — on 27 February.

For Daiki, the ramen was the must-buy product out of the three, because although Tenkaippin has released its noodles in frozen and instant cup noodle-style versions previously, this is the first time ever that the chain has produced microwaveable noodles.

▼ Plus, these are faster to make than instant noodles, as they require just a minute and 40 seconds of heating in a 1,500-watt microwave.

Lawson’s official website has high praise for the noodles, saying, “This product took about a year and a half to complete with the supervision of Tenka Ippin.”

A year and a half to create, a minute and 40 seconds to make.

After heating it up in the microwave, the finished ramen looked exactly like the Kotteri Ramen Daiki usually orders at Tenkaippin. The noodles were slightly thin, the broth super thick, and the green onions, menma (fermented bamboo shoots), and chashu pork on top were also just like the real thing.

While it looked fantastic, Daiki was most interested in the taste, so he picked up a good mouthful in his chopsticks and gave it a good slurp.

If he were to sum up the flavour in one word, that word would be: delicious. However, he couldn’t deny that it lacked the rich punch he normally gets from a bowl of noodles at the restaurant, as the broth was lighter than usual. It was still rich and flavourful, but it just didn’t have the same level of kotteri that makes fans go weak at the knees, and it was slightly saltier too.

With every slurp, Daiki felt as if Tenkaippin was knocking on the door of his tastebuds, and though he wanted it to come in and play, it simply knocked a few times and then gave up and went home.

The flavour was almost there, but not quite, which was frustrating for Daiki, but still it was delicious enough that he slurped up every last mouthful.

If you’re like Daiki and you like your ramen broth to be super thick and rich, as many Tenkaippin fans do, then this bowl of noodles might fall slightly short of your expectations. However, if you’re looking to try a microwaveable ramen in Japan that’s ready in an instant and tastes delicious, then these noodles will happily fit the bill.

As a ramen chain that’s been voted the most popular in Japan, Tenkaippin sure has a lot to live up to, but after this first foray into the world of microwaveable noodles, we have no doubts they’ll be bringing us even more surprises in future!

Photos © SoraNews24
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