While you may be more familiar with the candy subscription box, Japan Crate, that’s not the only type of monthly treat you can get from Sugoi Mart. If you prefer the savory to the sweet, there’s Umai Crate.
Umai Crate sends over 8-10 items from Japan. It mostly consists of different types of instant ramen that you won’t easily find outside of Japan, but other items are added in too. I took a look at their March 2023 box.
Before jumping right into the ramen though, I’ll take a moment to mention the booklet that comes with Umai Crate. It’s very useful. It describes each item, gives simple instructions on how to cook it, and even offers suggestions of additional ingredients to include. The only thing I’d want to add is an ingredient list.
Healthy Foods Miso Ramen comes in the form of your standard block of ramen noodles and some soup powder. It’s difficult to find miso ramen locally to me, and it’s a rather nice one, with a strong but not overpowering miso soup flavor. I threw in some chopped-up onions and spring onions for flavor, and it was ready within minutes.
Animal-Free Kurume Hotokeki Ramen looks more like spaghetti from the packaging. It’s long, thin, and straight. This one is a specialty ramen of Kurume city, with a pork-bone broth base. I enjoyed the rich taste of the broth. This might’ve been my favorite one in March 2023’s Umai Crate.
Tonkotsu Style Kagoshima Ramen is another pork-bone broth based ramen, this time a Kagoshima-region style. It had a nice savory taste, and I threw in some onions and garlic to add to it. This was another standard ramen block style.
Okinawa Wafu Dashi Ramen uses ‘dashi’ as a soup base, which includes kelp and dried fish. The noodles were a little different here, being non-fired, flat, and wrinkled. The taste was quite different from the others but still pleasant. Interestingly, it came with a liquid soup packet, rather than the normal powder to mix in.
Most people who try it love ramen, and I’m no exception. There were some great picks here. I was happy to revisit some flavors I’ve not had since living in East Asia.
More Noodly Goodness
Non-Cup Japanese-Style Kitsune Udon stood out for being easy to cook. It’s hot water in a bowl with the soup powder and noodles – no pot required! A few minutes of waiting results in some soft thick noodles, with rehydrated dried vegetables.
Daikoku Big Sauce Yakisoba consisted of quite a generous helping of instant yakisoba. No pot was needed for this again, with the directions just being to add boiling water and then to later remove it through provided drainage holes. I added the powder in after and mixed it in dry. It wasn’t as spicy as I expected, being surprisingly mild.
Ripened Tomato Oatmeal was an interesting one. Everyone I mentioned this to was surprised it existed, with some making disgusted faces at the idea. It’s like oatmeal floating in a very weak tomato soup. I went in open-minded but wasn’t a fan. It was easy to prepare though and a unique experience.
Takenoko Rice was easy to prepare. The container had glutinous rice and plenty of bamboo shoots inside. A few minutes in the microwave and it was ready. The rice itself was very sticky and solid. A slightly bitter taste makes me suspect it had been soaked in some broth too. I’ve read that this is a rather healthy seasonal dish.
Salted Konbu Chazuke goes on top of rice to add some flavor. It’s a mix of salted kelp, daikon, and green tea, which is a curious combination. Some hot water needs to be added, and it flavors the rice. It’s not the sort of thing I would’ve ever thought to try myself, which makes it a good pick for these types of subscription boxes.
This March 2023 was my first time trying Umai Crate and it was a good experience overall. The ramen all tasted great, it had some items I never would’ve tried overwise, and some I can’t get even via import shops here (your experience may vary). It seems like a great way to try a variety of different ramen and more.
Many thanks go to Japan Crate/Sugoi Mart for sending out a sample for this feature.
You may also be interested in checking out our look at the Sugoi Mart Anime Set.
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A gamer since the days of Amstrad and DOS and someone who has dabbled in a variety of professions. He enjoys a wide variety of genres, but has been focusing on visual novels and virtual reality in recent years. Head Editor of NookGaming. Follow him and the website on @NookSite.