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Ramen Throwdown

January 5, 2012

It started innocently enough.  Flyboy asked me what brand ramen we eat.  Mi Mama, a Thai brand with shiny metallic packaging, has been our household ramen.  Flyboy told me TNT eats an Indonesian brand.  He just bought a box of a Korean brand.  It was all I needed for my eyes to dilate, my hairs to stand on end, and my breath to quicken.  Ramen Throwdown.

Here’s how it unfolded.  The next night, with the kids tucked away, we all threw our go-to brand of Ramen on the table.  With much deliberation, we agreed on what we considered the best way to proceed:  cook each package one at a time, following the directions on the package exactly.  Each ramen will be judged on noodle, flavor, and overall enjoyment.  The five of us would be the panel of experts.  Afterall, our credibility is built on years of eating ramen – a combined total of almost a century and a half of experience. Four out of five of us are from Alief, and nobody knows ramen like a bunch of asians from the hood.  You can say the same about poor medical students.

Here’s the play by play:

We started with Fly Boy’s childhood ramen, Kung-Fu.  With a weak noodle and one-note broth, it had low ratings from most all of us except for Flyboy.  In fact, we suspected that he wrote his scores down before he even tried the ramen.

The next Ramen came from my pantry, Mi Mama.  It’s our go-to Ramen for the tang and spice.  However, the spice was deemed overpowering for others and the noodle lacked the chew we all wanted.


TNT brought an unconventional Indonesian-brand Ramen, Mi Goreng, meant to be eaten without broth.  We all enjoyed a broth-less ramen and the noodles were a bit gummier than the previous ramens, but the flavor veered overboard on the sweetness.

Duke’s contribution was a spicy Neoguri that his mom used to make for breakfast everyday when he was in middle school.  The spice was evident by the red tint of the broth.  Some enjoyed the heavy-handed addition of seaweed, others thought it was too much.  The noodles were substantial and much more satisfying.

We finished off with Flyboy’s ‘adult ramen’, another Korean brand called Jin Ramen.  This one perplexed all of us.  The noodles, true to the Korean brands, were chewy and enjoyable.  However, we were all bored and disappointed with the flavor of the broth but we kept wanting more.  Perhaps it was boring yet balanced to let the noodles shine.

After an exhausting taste test, the winner is…..all of them!

There were no winners or losers.  Sounds lame, right?  Well, here’s what I learned:  ramen comes with too much emotional baggage to judge without bias.  Each individual preference was tied to experiences we’ve had with it through the years.  In between rounds while the next batch was cooking, the five of us sat cracking up at the various experiences we’ve had.  My mom cooked ramen with a coffee maker in a cabin in Montana.  Ramen was the first thing Flyboy ever cooked by himself.  TNT’s sister introduced her to dry ramen.  Duke inhaled his mom’s microwaved ramen everyday before going to school.  The Good Doctor took pride in his gourmet ramen with green onions, cabbage, bok choy, lime, and egg.  For many of us, Viennese sausages and ramen packed a one-two punch.

Despite there not being an obvious winner, we did make one conclusion:  Duke’s childhood tastes better than Flyboy’s.

Hours of fun and food for five people cost less than $5.  My kind of night.  What’s better, it didn’t ruin me like the donut throwdown incident that gave me an adverse reaction to donuts for months afterwards.



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  1. DT (the other one) permalink

    no blind taste test? I think your test involved some bias…..redo!
    I must admit, we’re a divided house in our ramen purchasing!

  2. Bizarley permalink

    Awesome post. A few suggestions for Round 2 (PS – I expect an invite this time, but I will forgive you since it’s your BIRTHDAY). 🙂

    Try the Nong Shim “Bowl Noodle” (Kimchi or Hot/Spicy flavor – do NOT try the others) – so good they sell it at HEB/Central Market. I personally like the Neoguri best, but will go with the Nong Shim when I want a less substantial noodle.

    Also good – Sapporo Ichiban (Japanese) – whatever flavor is in the red package.

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