Sunday Edition: Beef Top Ramen

Today is a super photo packed review of something I’ve eaten WAAAY too much of: Top Ramen.

The Money Shot

If I legitimately had to guess how many packs of ramen, generally, I’d eaten in my life…I’d have to say its in the high hundreds, like the 800-900 range.  And honestly, that might be a conservative estimate.  I just grew up eating it, in a variety of different ways – sometimes with an egg cracked in it, sometimes stewed with spinach, sometimes crushed up into tiny pieces, etc.  Everyone reading this has had a weird ramen experience at some point.

Opened like a flower

Top Ramen is cheap in many ways.  First, it’s easy on the wallet.   I got the six pack, which I BELIEVE was on sale for 13 cents.  Seriously.

Where's the Beef?

Top Ramen is also cheap in quality.  It’s Americanized Ramen, if there is such a thing, and is nothing like the super pouches of ramen from Korea or Taiwan that have dehydrated vegetables, oil packets, and wacky writing no one can read.  Nope, Top Ramen is just noodles and salt.  Yummy.

Hmmm those are tender slices of beef

If my point-and-shoot wasn’t so poor, you’d REALLY be able to see how lovely the London Broil-like slices of beef on this label are.  A nice medium rare.  Unfortunately, you will find these nowhere near the inside of this package.  You want steak?  Go to Ruth Chris.  You want dehydrated fabricated artificial beef flavored sand? X MARKS THE SPOT BABY.

This...doesn't bode well

Um…never.  Ever.  EVER read the back of a Top Ramen package.  It’s frightening.  First, anyone who thinks they are splitting a package of Ramen with me to satisfy the serving size is losing an arm.  Second, the sodium – I mean, just kill me already.  Third, they call it a DRY NOODLE BLOCK AND SEASONING MIX.  What am I, on a space shuttle???

At the very bottom of the pic, you can see that Top Ramen is manufactured in a place that also makes “tree nut.”  I don’t know what that is, nor do I want to.

Mmmm dry noodle block

Mmm closer dry noodle block

In some iterations of ramen, the dry noodle block can actually be smashed up and ingested without cooking.  In fact, there are some Asian snacks that are just that – crushed noodles.  But try to chomp a bit of Top Ramen, and its like biting a waxy weave of dried pasta.  Oh wait, because that’s exactly what it is. Gross.

Well, thank god its labeled

Look into the salty eye of the storm

Just add water

Mmmmm beefy flavor crystals.  This pile of seasoning is what changes bland ramen into semi-bland ramen.  Despite being just concentrated beef bouillon soup mix, the flavor packet still kind of scares me. Why is it so brown!? I heard about a guy who used to enjoy dipping the dry noodle block into the seasoning and then crunching on it.  I may be sick.

Loading it all together

Throttling those noodles with heat

The cooking process is easy since…there are only three ingredients.  Put together, then boil for seven minutes.  I’m sure Top Ramen was the first cooking experience for many Americans.  I know it was for me, before I graduated to “stirring Beefaroni halfway through microwaving.”


Mmmmmmm carbs and salt and oil

The finished product!  Top Ramen serves it purpose, despite the questionable components.  It’s a warm starchy meal that has instant flavor and non-offensive texture – it can smooth away hunger pangs in an instant.  I can down a bowl in less time than it takes to cook it.  Though its not for everyone, I truly do enjoy a noodly soup.

One caveat: Though I do enjoy soup normally, and I do enjoy ramen, I actually never drink the remaining liquid from a Top Ramen meal.  Why?  Brace yourself:

Oil spill

This is a bowl after the noodles are all gone.  If you look closely, you can see the film of oil that adheres not only to the surface of the liquid, but also to the fork.  I just…look, I know I’m the Junk Food Guy, and I can eat slices of pizza bathed in orange colored oil but I have to draw the line somewhere.  I feel that drinking this down is like drinking straight car grease – the fork looks like a dipstick after you pull it from your engine.  I’m totally skeeved out by this picture.  Look away!

That said, I’m looking forward to my next 800 packets of ramen.  How many have YOU had?

Sincerely, Junk Food Guy

Discuss - 3 Comments

  1. GBJ says:

    Awesome post!! These things were SUPER popular – a staple for every student. But, that sodium content! WOW!!

  2. Adi says:

    Great post!! I must admit, though, I was that kid on the playground snacking on crushed up ramen with the “flavor” packet mixed in. Mmmm

  3. Shorneys says:

    I was on a long-haul flight from NYC to Tokyo once when I was 14. There was some high-and-mighty looking American grownup sitting next to me who didn’t seem to care for sitting next to a kid. A kid with giant glasses and a discman, because I was 14 years old then and I’m ancient.

    We get our midnight mid-pacific snack, which is a styrofoam bowl with three little ramen briquettes and flavor powder inside. Clearly (and multilingually, along with dumbass IKEA-like pictograms), it said “peel cover 1/3 off and wait: stewardess will be by to pour hot water in; then re-cover and wait 3 minutes.” Or somesuch – it was a long time ago.

    Dumbass white dude thinks to himself “fuck directions” and rips off the top of the bowl. Looks quizzically at the bricks of dehydrated noodles and, with a shrug, picks up a brick and curiously starts nibbling on it. He shrugs – they’re not bad, but I know he’s thinking “Japanese people are weird.” 1.5 bricks later, the stewardess comes around. I dutifully peel back 1/3 of the cover and place it on her little tray, she pours hot water into my bowl, and I take my bowl and cover up the lid. We both turn our heads to look at the dumbass. He sheepishly looks down at his half-eaten ramen brick and tries to do the same, but he’s ripped the whole cover off and all he can do is drape the paper lid back on. The stewardess and I share a look of humor and red-faced white dude sinks deeper into his chair.

    Another random story. In college, I used to up the sodium content considerably. Rehydrate two bricks of noodles in bowl of hot water. Drain. Transfer noodles to big bowl and pour on seasoning packet(s). Then, add one tin of anchovies in olive oil. Stir to combine. Salty, fishy, oily, salty, carby goodness. I can’t believe I didn’t die.

    Bottom line: I freaking love ramen.

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