10 Authentic Ramen and Fake American Instant Noodles Marketed as Japanese “Ramen”

Updated 11/24/2020: a 9th and 10th producer was added, along with additional info. on authentic ramen producers.

Ramen is a Japanese noodle, but some brands are just cashing in on your love for ramen with regular plain ole instant noodles (while culturally appropriating Japanese ramen) .

Ramen is Japanese and authentic ramen is a noodle that is made up of wheat flour, water, kansui, and salt (ramen noodle ingredients), and if you love pasta, it is also made up of wheat (semolina durum), along with water and sometimes egg. The two are very similar, yet you don’t hear food producers calling their product a pasta, and if you want legit ramen noodles, keep an eye out for kansui on the ingredients list.

Asians get lumped all together as the same by naming any INSTANT NOODLE from pho (Vietnamese), noodle soups (from China to Taiwan), khao soi (Thailand), etc. as a Japanese ramen.

Kansui Is What Defines Ramen as Ramen.

Without kansui, you just a have a noodle, yet American noodle producers do not know the difference between ramen and an “instant noodle.” In Asia, they understand this although, in the U.S., a few producers struggle to understand it.

Kansui or lye water/alkaline solution is sodium carbonate and potassium carbonate.

Photo description: bundles and rows and rows of fresh authentic ramen noodles. Golden yellow strands of noodles are neatly bunched together with a slight dusting of flour.
Ramen is Asian AF since it is distinctly yellow like me. Image by Yamato.

Imagine if American food producers started to call all pasta “spaghetti,” and if they did, that is what they do with ramen.

La mian, Bread, Udon, to Pasta.

If food producers think ramen is just wheat flour, water, and salt, they just might want to educate themselves because they are acting like foo’s because if that were the case, udon, somen, bread, to most Chinese noodles are going to confuse them.

REAL RamenWheat flour, water, salt, and kansui (sodium carbonate, potassium carbonate).
FAKE RamenWheat flour, water, salt.
BreadWheat flour and water.
La mianWheat flour, salt, water.
Lo meinWheat flour, water, egg, salt.
PastaDurum wheat semolina, water.
SomenWheat flour, water, salt.
SpaetzleWheat flour, egg, salt, water/milk.
TortillasWheat flour, baking powder, salt, water.
UdonWheat flour, water, salt.
To a food producer, all of the above is ramen.

Not the same, but for some companies it’s all ramen, ramen bread, ramen tortillas, and ramen udon which is ridiculous because ramen noodle ingredients aren’t all that hard to understand. Except, maybe if have never been to Japan, or you think Japan is part of China, you may be one of these 6.5 brands below who still call Asians Orientals.

Photo Description: several columns of pasta noodle varieties are on display. 6 rows of varying styles from a thin noodle, flat thin, med flat, thick flat, to a green med flat, to a med flat noodle denoted as a "paglia e fieno caserecce."
If it were not for race and nationality, you just might struggle with differentiating pasta, ramen, lo mein, bread, or spaetzle from one another.

Only 3 of the 10 Food Producers Are Producing Real Authentic Ramen Noodles.

By American standards, ramen noodles are being touted as wheat flour, sea salt, and water although I’m sure these are the same types calling a bowl of rice and veggies a banh mi bowl (a Vietnamese sandwich).

1. Blue Marble Brands
Koyo Noodles
Providence, Rhode IslandShiitake mushroom ramenFAKEOrganic heirloom wheat flour, sea salt.
2. Bright People Foods
Mike’s Mighty Good
Woodland, CaliforniaChicken ramen soupFAKEOrganic unbleached wheat flour, chicken organic starch, sea salt.
3. Immi Ramen
Immi Eats
707, so the East BayBlack garlic chicken ramenA GOOD/ DECENT BALANCEPumpkin Seed Protein, Wheat Gluten, Food Starch Modified, Sustainable Palm Oil, Wheat, Contains less than 2% of the following: Yeast Extract, Soybean Powder, Black Garlic Powder, Garlic Powder, Sea Salt, Natural Flavors, Onion Powder, Coconut Milk Powder, Salt, Sesame Oil, Spices, Turmeric (For Color), Safflower Oil, Sunflower Oil, Gum Acacia, Tricalcium Phosphate, Potassium Chloride, Calcium Carbonate, Maltodextrin, Tapioca Maltodextrin
4. Nona Lim
Nona Lim
San Francisco, CaliforniaTokyo RamenAUTHENTICWheat flour [enriched wheat flour (wheat flour, malted barley flour, niacin, reduced iron, thiamine mononitrate, riboflavin, folic acid), wheat flour], water, contains 1% or less of salt, wheat gluten, kansui (sodium carbonate, potassium carbonate), riboflavin (for color), cornstarch, sago starch.
5. New Frontier Foods
Ocean’s Halo
Burlingame, CaliforniaRamen Noodle BowlFAKEOrganic wheat, water, sea salt.
6. One Culture Foods
One Culture Foods
San Gabriel Valley, CaliforniaJapanese spicy ramenFAKEWheat flour, water, tapioca starch, salt, wheat gluten, lactic acid.
7. Public Goods
New York, New YorkRamen Noodles OriginalFAKEOnly wheat flour, salt, and water.
8. Sun Noodles
Sun Noodles
Honolulu, HawaiiRamenAUTHENTICWheat flour, purified water, salt and kansui (sodium carbonate, potassium carbonate).
9. Vite Ramen
Vite Ramen
N/A (somewhere in Murica)Roasted soy sauce chickenA GOOD/ DECENT
All purpose unbleached flour (wheat flour, enriched (niacin, reduced iron, thiamine mononitrate, riboflavin, folic acid), quinoa flour, vital wheat gluten, canola oil, soluble corn fiber, L-lysine, and potassium carbonate.
10. Nippon Trends Food Service
Yamachan Ramen
San Jose, CaliforniaShoyu RamenAUTHENTICWhat flour, water, potato starch propylene glycol, dried egg white powder, potassium carbonate, wheat gluten, sorbitol, calcinated oxide, sodium carbonate, canola oil, soy lecithin, polyglycerol, ester of fatty acids, FD&C food color yellow #5

So, if you want ramen, Sun Noodle, Nona Lim, Yamachan, and Vite Ramen are the most legit to semi-legitimate brands/products out there, but you can also purchase a number of Japanese ramen brands/products listed here (the Japanese know what a ramen noodle is).

Photo Description: what real Japanese ramen looks like.
Moderation is key to anything (even an quinoa only diet can’t be really good for you?)

In regards to ingredients, the best quality ramen is by Sun Noodles.

Real Eff’n Ramen B*tches

Japanese “ramen noodle” producers aren’t ramen challenged at all compared to their American (and one Taiwanese company) noodle producer cohorts, but that just means you only need to focus your money on these three.

  • Nona Lim
    A Bay Area producer originally from Singapore that is using temperature, not processing techniques, to keep their products fresh, which results in better flavor.
  • Sun Noodles
    An artisan noodle maker that supplies home cooks, chefs, and restaurants throughout North and South America and Europe.
  • Yamachan Ramen
    Founded in San Jose, California which started off when Hideyuki Yamashita began managing both manufacturing and the business of the Ringer Hut restaurant.

Almost Ramen

  • Vite Ramen (a 1/2 point)
    “The ultra nutritious high protein all in one…” not sure what the rest said, but it’s cool that they are twin brothers Tim and Tom Zheng out of Vacaville, CA.

Reality Distortion Field or Stupidity

I’m going to go eat my burger with my ramen buns because any bun made of wheat flour and water is ramen (yea, that’s just stupid).


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