We believe many are no strangers to the famous Ichiran Ramen in Japan. Each year, thousands of people will fly to Japan just to savour a bowl of their piping hot noodles. With the ongoing pandemic, people are switching their attention towards the Ichiran instant ramen that comes in a box. Recently, the popular chain has also launched their first-ever instant ramen cup noodles, so we thought why not compare both side by side and give a thorough review?
Ichiran Instant Ramen Battle: The Packaging
Fun fact: Ichiran says they’ve spent 20 years developing their instant cup noodles. This statement alone sets our bar high.
We’ve managed to lay our hands on both the cup noodles and box packaging. At first glance, the instant ramen box feels more luxurious, like those you would buy as a souvenir from your trip to Japan. The cup noodle on the other hand, looks just like any other cup noodles that you can find on the supermarket aisle.
Both packagings have the brand’s signature colour elements, as well as the name “Ichiran” printed in Japanese. The box contains five servings with noodles, broth and chilli pepper powder, all in individual packaging.
The cup noodles are similar. Tear off the lid and you’ll find the noodles sitting in the bowl, along with the broth, stock powder and the chain’s original secret red sauce sitting on top. We were surprised to see them packed in individual packaging, as Japanese cup noodles typically come without them.
For the Ichiran Instant Ramen in a box, consumer is required to cook the noodles in a pot. The instructions behind the box indicate that it should be cooked for exactly 2 minutes and 30 seconds before adding in the broth packet. Turn off the heat and upon serving in a bowl, add your desired amount of chilli pepper powder.
The cup noodle on the other hand, is much more convenient. Just tear off the lid, pour over some hot water and let it sit for a couple of minutes. Then, add stock powder A, followed by broth packet B. Give it a good stir before adding the secret red sauce packet C.
Taste Profile & Noodle Texture:
Both Ichiran Instant Ramen doesn’t come with any toppings as the brand says that they want diners to taste the true flavour of their noodles. We’ve tried both and have to say, there is quite an amount of difference.
First off, the noodles. The box packaging comes with Ichiran’s well-known straight noodles, a hallmark of Hakata-style ramen. The texture is smooth and delightful on the palate, pretty similar to the ones being served in their restaurant. The cup noodles otherwise, used custom-made non-fried noodles that have a slight curl and contain a more wheat flavor. We find the latter absorbed better taste of the broth, but the straight noodles were more enjoyable.
As for the ramen broth, both bagged the signature rich and mellow tonkotsu flavour. However, when tasting them side by side, we found that the flavours of the cup noodles is stronger. The broth is a tad richer and more aromatic, probably due to the fact that Ichiran’s secret red sauce is included, which enhanced the overall taste.
Final Thoughts on Ichiran Instant Ramen & Price:
We’ve added some toppings after a round of tasting to see if they make any difference. Boy, it was truly a different experience. The broth in the box packaging pairs better with the added ingredients, delivering a similar experience as the one you’d have in a restaurant. As for the cup noodles, we find the flavours a tad too rich when paired along with the toppings, but that is to our own preference.
Overall, both are really enjoyable. It reminded us of the good old times when we were in Japan. The Ichiran Instant Ramen box is priced at RM108 for five servings while the cup noodles at RM26 for a single serving. If you’re itching for some Ichiran Ramen, we highly recommend trying both.