Sunday, March 12, 2017

Nissin 45th Anniversary Matcha Green Tea Seafood Cup Noodle Review

Nissin celebrates the 45th anniversary of Cup Noodle with a trio of different instant ramen products.  These limited editions celebrate both instant noodles in a cup or bowl and Japan at the same time with the different types of flavourings.

Today, I'm reviewing the Matcha Green Tea Seafood Cup Noodle, a product I'm happy to be able to get my hands on.  The cup noodle is in their regular sized cup, but it has some pretty fantastic looking packaging.  This is one of the things I like about Japan when they go all out.  The theme is green tea, with very traditional Japanese icons shown. 
This is a very attractive cup noodle from the design.
You can see Mt. Fuji plays a centerpiece role, with a bullet train running along the bottom.
Looking to the back, you can see the nutritional content.  Pretty standard for a cup noodle.
On the left of the logo are a thunder god wearing sneakers, some pagodas, a rising sun, a lucky cat, some otaku-looking dude with a flashlight that looks like he is illuminating a Mario-esque level in the clouds, and a truck with some traditional dudes.  Some of the imagery is beyond me, but it is mixing traditional with modern pop themes so it is pretty cool.
On the right there is a skyscraper pagoda, a quadcopter drone with a kabuki mask and a lantern, a lady in fancy traditional kimono with a hot water kettle, and a sumo wrestler that is DJing music.  Again, really cool graphics.
The top of the cup.
The cup again.
Opening up the cup, you can see it does look different from the regular cup noodle.  The green theme of the matcha pervades the contents.  The instant ramen noodles are even green as they are mixed with matcha.  I took a sniff of the contents and can say that the green tea was pretty subtle, but I could smell it.  It is kind of nice that these noodles are not just packaged nicely, they are a little different too.
The ingredients include: powdered milk and cheese, seafood extract, slices of squid, cabbage, egg, carrots,green onions, black pepper, and many others. 
After adding boiling water, the soup was quit frothy and thicker than normal.  I suspect this was from the milk which added a creaminess to the soup.  Closing the lid, you let the soup for three minutes.
After the three minutes, the soup and noodles have finished rehydrating.  The contents were greenish and it smelled seafoody, but it was pretty appetizing to me. 
The noodles are shown here in more detail.  They have a greenish tinge from the tea, but there is no pronounced tea taste.
This was a pretty tasty cup noodle with  nice pieces of squid and egg in a creamier seafood broth.  The noodles were firm and the combination with matcha was interesting, but the role of the green tea was subtle on the palate.  Definitely worth a a try, this cup noodle is a winner in both taste and packaging.

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Saturday, March 11, 2017

Japanese Food and Snacks as Souvenirs (Kit Kats, Whiskey, Chips, and More)

One of the funnest parts about a holiday where you are going to experience new things is the planning.  It is kind of like the journey versus the destination being the main part of a trip.  This is a discussion that could take place over a lot of beers, but I'm an advocate of enjoying the trip experience even after you have returned home.  We're not talking personal growth (which is good), but the fact that you can still enjoy the tastes of the places you've travelled in food long after you have returned home.  I always like to bring home food related souvenirs so the trip can keep on giving long after it is done.

Some of the food type souvenirs I've brought back are shown in the pics below.
Japanese Kit Kats are big thing these days. There are a large variety of Kit Kats in different regional and traditional flavours of Japan.  Green tea, wasabi, roasted tea, strawberry shortcake and strawberry are some of the many different types of flavours.
This is a sake flavoured kit kat and it is really good (must like the taste of sake though).
Various types of more gourmet / deluxe Kit Kats that are unique to Japan.  Some of these will require you to visit a Kit Kat Chocolatory specialty shop that can be found in the major cities.
This is a type of red bean Kit Kat that was a limited edition in the fall of 2014.  It was really good.
Mmmm. Strawberry Kit Kit, Tochigi Edition.
Melon Kit Kats
Japanese whiskey.  You can decide if the fuss over it is worth it after tasting.  I find that they are very smooth and not as bold or "rough" as some of the scotches I also like.
These are packages of single use, pour over coffee filters that fit on top of a mug.  Coffee is included.  They're pretty cool.
Potato chips are always a good snack, especially with local flavours.
Lawson and 7-11 both have awesome rice crackers and other snacks that you can stock up on.
Chicken Ramen flavoured potato sticks.
I like Chicken Ramen from Nissin.  This is the original instant ramen by the way.
Pretz which are flavoured breadsticks/skinny biscuites and the chocolate covered Pocky sticks are great souvenirs and you can always look limited / seasonal editions.
Some giant-sized specialty Pockys in souvenir format. 
Office worker and even natural disaster survival biscuits.  A small box can help you keep going.
Muji (as in the dept. store) sells white chocolate and green tea chocolate covered freeze dried strawberries.  These are great!  I looked for the green tea at a small outlet store, but they only have the white chocolate. 
Cheezas are awesome cheeze tasting crackers that go great with beer.  If you like cheese, try these.
Freeze dried miso soup with eggplant.  One of my faves.
Freeze dried soup (egg drop).  Quite good, light to carry, and keeps for a long time.
This is a box of gift mochi (Japanese rice sweets with various types of fillings).  You can find this type of confectionary in many gift shops and even the airport which is where I picked this up.  They should be really fresh and boy was it good.
This is just a sampling, but take a look at all of the different kinds of chocolate, hard candy, jelly beans, and chips you can pick up at a store these.
This is artisanal candy, hand-sculpted out of sugar.  I bought a pretty fancy lollipop that I'll never eat, but display only.  A shop in the Skytree Mall sells these.
Some very awesome Japanese mints.  They really do a good strawberry, grape, and yogurt drink flavours like Calpis.

You can also bring back some cup noodles of various types to snack on or to have a lunch on one day and think back about your trip.  They're definitely not the cup noodle you'll get at home.
That's all for now about food, but other types of souvenirs are like arts, crafts, stationary, clothes, and toys.  These are all pretty darn cool in Japan.

More Japanese Pop Culture.

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Nissin Morizumi Limited Edition Cup Noodle

I noticed this cup of noodle at the Narita airport Lawson on the way to the check-in counter for Air Canada.  I hadn't seen it anywhere else, so I lucked out.  That Lawson was pretty well stocked as I'm sure a lot of Japanese travellers hit it before going through security for various items.  I knew I was under the weight limit for my luggage as my hotel had a digital scale so I stocked up on some extra noodles.

I had not idea who/what Morizumi was, but I just assumed it was another ramen shop tie-in product.  Later, I finally found it on the Nissin Japan website and I had to look up the restaurant online to find out what was so special about Morizumi.  It turns out Morizumi is relatively famous as it is run by a Michelin starred chef, Mr. Morizumi himself.

Harimazaka Morizumi (Morizumi Kitchen)
2nd floor of Tokyo Dome City LaQua,
1-1-1 Kasuga, Bunkyo-ku, Tokyo
Closest to Suidobashi Station (about a 5 min walk)

He runs a nice little cafe that doesn't resemble your typical ramen shop as it isn't a narrow space with one long counter.  His cafe is bright and roomy with tables and a nice casually decorated atmosphere.  It welcomes female customers and families apparently.  Anyhow, he's collaborated with Nissin to produce a very nice cup noodle that I give a two thumbs up to.
Nissin Morizumi Cup Noodle
Without the condensed chicken essence packet on the lid.
Side view.  The rich green colour and layout of the graphics gives it a elegant appearance that matches the deluxe ramen image it is portraying.  Green is also the colour of the ramen shop's exterior.
Picture of the ramen restaurant along with ingredients and nutritional information.
Mr. Morizumi I presume with some views of his restaurant on the lid.
Once the lid is peeled back you can see the powdered soup base along with some large pieces of grilled chicken.  It was dehydrated grilled chicken as there were even grill marks on the side of the pieces.  The green onions and menma (pickled bamboo shoots) were underneath the noodle blocks.  You can already see that the type of noodles from the way are appear are different from the regular noodles used in cup noodle.
The rehydrated noodles with the chicken essence pack added in.  You can see the broth has a nice rich colour and that the noodles are straight noodles.  It took a longer 4 minutes to rehydrate the noodles rather than the regular 3 minutes for regular noodles.
This Morizumi instant ramen was definitely one of the better cup noodles I've had in awhile with its soy broth and nice firm straight noodles.  The broth is flavourful yet light without harsh saltiness.  The broth was full of umami with definite undertones of chicken.  I don't know about the bonito and scallaps being used in the soy soup, but it tasted great. According to the Nissin website  the soy sauce oil from the gold essence packet was based on apple chicken oil (Chi Yu) to provide further scent and depth to the soup.  I just wish there were some more bamboo shoots and chicken in the soup, but I'm real happy I have another one of these to eat a little later.
Chicken with noodles.  Yum!!!

More Ramen and Japanese Pop Culture Posts

Saturday, February 4, 2017

Cup Noodle Fun With Pokemon and One Piece

Pokemon Cup Noodles
Pokemon cup noodles have been around for a long time.  I first saw these back in 2009 on my first trip to Japan.  The Pokemon Centers there usually have these in stock and you can also check the various supermarkets.  They're like half-size cup noodles as they are really intended for kids, but they taste pretty good for all ages.  They usually come in a soy flavour and a seafood flavour too.

Smiling Pikachu
Very colorful lid with some pokemon and a preview of the noodles inside.
Ingredients and nutritional information.  There is about 4.8 grams of fat, so where as a full noodle cup is usually in the teens.  There is always a fair bit of salt too, but that isn't something I worry about too much.
The flavouring powder is loose in the cup and the other noodle ingredients are below the block of noodles.
Cat for scale.  These noodles usually come with a little Pokemon sticker too.
After adding the boiling water and waiting for 3 minutes you get tasty noodles with green onion and some pikachu naruto (dried fish cake).  The little pikachus are the a great touch to the noodles.

One Piece Cup Noodle
These One Piece noodles are a limited edition cup noodle and once they're sold, they're gone.  By the time you read this they're sold out.  Various noodle manufacturers have different types of tie-ins with various anime or games all the time, so if you don't see One Piece, you'll usually see something else.  For example, right now as of February 2016 there is a Final Fantasy Bosses Cup Noodle promotion going on where there are like a dozen different noodle cups with different boss monsters on them.  There is also a Girls Und Panzer Cup Noodle from Nissin which I cannot get as it is sold in Japan only, and I think you have to order it from Nissin by the dozen.

One Piece continues to be a very popular anime over there and this noodle ties in with the Gold movie.  While the noodle doesn't contain gum gum fruit, which you can actually buy in the Shonen Jump stores, the noodles are a soy BBQ meat flavour.
The cup and lid are very attractive with a colourful graphic of the main characters.  This is a regular size cup noodle.
Nice looking lid.
Nutritional and ingredients information.  The little graphic show a ramen cart.
Closeup of the characters.
So here is a closeup of the noodles.  It contains little slices of BBQ meat with some meat cubes, green onion, and egg.
After adding the boiling water, closing the lid, and waiting for the eternity of 3 minutes, the noodles are ready to eat.
You get plenty of toppings with the noodles and the broth was pretty good.  I don't think anything really stood out, but it is pretty good for a tie-in.  Unlike the Pokemon noodles which have some character branding in the food elements, the only branding is on the cup.

That's pretty much it for the two character branded cup noodles for now.  There are plenty of other noodle reviews below.

More Noodle Reviews and Pop Culture.