Product Food

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

Updated 11/24/20: a 10th producer was added. Update 10/27/22: a 11th producer was added and the worst one to date.

Ramen is a Japanese noodle, but some brands are just cashing in on your love for ramen with any noodle/pasta. Even labeling other Asian noodles as “ramen” which is offensive if you know history (yea, that is eff’d up).

Ramen is a Japanese noodle, and the restaurant and instant kind include wheat flour, water, kansui, and salt. Yet, there is a group of food producers who do not know the difference from a Japanese ramen noodle and an instant noodle (all of Asia understands this). 

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.”

Most assume if you add an egg to any of the above noodles dishes, it then becomes ramen and for proof of that, go look at the Reddit ramen subreddit (along with many not knowing the difference between tonkatsu and tonkotsu).

If you are also a pasta lover, you know pasta and ramen share the core ingredient of wheat (semolina durum). Yet you do not hear food producers calling their product “pasta” because they have no problem separating Europeans from Asians, except they struggle with distinguishing Asians from one another.

Photo Description: the most oblivious instant noodle brand on the planet is Lotus Foods. They know absolutely nothing about the products they are selling.
The most oblivious brand on the planet, Lotus Foods. The four most popular Japanese noodles are made of wheat, not rice, yet they name their product “ramen.” To me, this is very insulting to my Vietnamese homies that they are trying to avoid/relating their product as Vietnamese (I thought the Mimi Miyagi days were over): star anise, cinnamon, rice noodles, lime, that is all element in Vietnamese pho.

So, if you want legit ramen noodles, keep an eye out for kansui on the ingredients list because it is up to you to know because many of these American food producers know nothing.

Kansui Is What Defines Ramen as Ramen

Without kansui, you have a noodle (not ramen), 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 because of “you people” (you know, you can phone a friend, and I am sure you all have an Asian friend).

Kansui or lye water/alkaline solution is sodium carbonate and potassium carbonate (it gives the noodle its chewy texture and yellow hue).

Without it, you have udon and somen (both Japanese noodles are made of wheat), or any other type of noodle or pasta.
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.

These Are the Most Popular Types of Japanese Noodles

If ramen is any noodle with “Asiany” (bok choy, soy sauce, shiitake, an egg) ingredients, you might want to tell the Japanese that because that will be news to them.

  • Ramen: a wheat noodle which includes kansui and comes in several different styles (thin, thick, wavy, irregular).
  • Shirataki: a noodle made of konjac yam with very low calories because of its high water content.
  • Soba: a 100% buckwheat noodle (juwari) to a wheat and buckwheat 20/80 blend (nihachi).
  • Somen: a very thin (1.0-1.3mm) wheat noodle that is often eaten cold during the summer time.
  • Udon: a thick wheat noodle often paired with a soy sauce, mirin, and fish stock.

La mian, Bread, Udon, to Pasta, They All Have Similar Ingredients

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.

Imagine if American food producers started to call all pasta “spaghetti,” and if they did, that would be the equivalent of what is happening with ramen.

Vinny would make them disappear.
REAL RamenWheat flour, water, salt, and kansui (sodium carbonate, potassium carbonate).
FAKE RamenWheat flour, water, salt.
BreadWheat flour and water.
Egg noodlesAll-purpose flour, eggs, salt, water/milk (chicken
noodle soup).
La mianWheat flour, salt, water.
Lo meinWheat flour, egg, water, salt.
PastaDurum wheat semolina/all-purpose flour, 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. To everybody else, that scored high on their SAT’s or in a technical trade, you can clearly see the differences.

There are also rice noodles that are popular in Chinese, Burmese, Thai, to Vietnamese cuisine. A few popular ones are huo fun (he fen) which is a wide/flat rice noodle used in chow fun. To phở and one of my favorites, in bún bò Huế.

Yet you will see naive American food producers blanketing all these great Asian cultures under “Japanese ramen.”

All of the ingredients above are similar, but the end result are not the same, but for some companies they do not get it. To them, it is all “ramen,” “ramen bread,” “ramen tortillas,” and “ramen udon,” which is ridiculous because ramen noodle ingredients are not all that hard to understand. Except, if you have never been to Japan, or you think Japan is part of China, you may be one of these 6 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, the fake producers might struggle with differentiating pasta, ramen, lo mein, bread, and spaetzle from one another because they are all made from similar ingredients.

This is why I find it ridiculous that every noodle soup is labeled as ramen:

Chicken noodle soup is something most Americans associate as being American originated out of China.

If anything, ramen should rightfully be labeled as Chinese, not under “ramen” (the Japanese know that which is why they call it chuka soba). Also, go and google where catsup/ketchup came from and while you’re at it, here is the entire article by Haaretz on the origins of chicken noodle soup.

The Japanese Are Not the Only Ones Doing Instant Noodles

Post World War 2, Momofuku Ando, is the Japanese (Taiwanese) dude who invented instant noodles because fresh ramen made from American wheat was widely available. Decades later, the Japanese are not the only ones doing instant noodles, and here are a few of those brands:

Here I go dropping some knowledge: an instant Vietnamese pho or Thai tom yum koong is not ramen.

PSA: the more you know.

Throughout Asia, they know the appropriate nomenclature is “instant noodles.”

Only 5 of the 11 Food Producers Are Producing Real Authentic Ramen Noodles.

By American standards, ramen noodles are being touted as only 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).

FYI: Whole Foods (Amazon) only carries and supports the fake brands, and they do not carry a Japanese or legit brand like Sun Noodles which is a craft ramen that complements their brand.

Imagine if you had a line of Italian products, but carried no Italian brands (yea, that only happens in the Whole Foods “Oriental” aisle). Where is the Japanese equivalent of Vinny? Where you at Yamaguchi-gumi?
1. Blue Marble Brands
Koyo Noodles
Providence, Rhode Island
Shiitake mushroom ramenFAKEOrganic heirloom wheat flour, sea salt.
2. Bright People Foods
Mike’s Mighty Good
Woodland, California
Chicken ramen soupFAKE
(what an ironic parent company name)
Organic unbleached wheat flour, chicken organic starch, sea salt.
3. Immi Ramen
Immi Eats
“707,” so the East Bay
Black 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, California
Tokyo 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, California
Ramen Noodle BowlFAKEOrganic wheat, water, sea salt.
6. One Culture Foods
One Culture Foods
San Gabriel Valley, California
Japanese spicy ramenFAKE
(Imitation and their Asian card is in jeopardy)
Wheat flour, water, tapioca starch, salt, wheat gluten, lactic acid.
7. Morgan Hirsh,
Public Goods
New York, New York
Ramen Noodles OriginalFAKEOnly wheat flour, salt, and water.
8. Sun Noodles
Sun Noodles
Honolulu, Hawaii
RamenAUTHENTICWheat flour, purified water, salt and kansui (sodium carbonate, potassium carbonate).
9. Vite Ramen
Vite Ramen
N/A (somewhere in Murica, maybe their aunts house)
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, California
Shoyu RamenAUTHENTICWheat 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
11. Lotus Foods, Inc.
Lotus Foods
Richmond, CA
Millet & Brown Rice Ramen With Miso SoupFAKE AND
(the worst of the worst)
Ramen: Organic brown rice flour, Organic millet flour. 
It is sort of obvious which brands have an Asian connections (management or founders) vs. none.

I find it amusing that all these brands, even the Asian-American ones tout they are producing “clean” and “healthy” products, but the US ranks 35-40th in regards to life expectancy and obesity. Japan on the other hand is typically in the top 2 or 3 spots, yet us Americans feel we are an authority on health?

Selling “healthy” for fatass’s is big business (it’s always about money).

So, if you want ramen, Sun Noodle, Nona Lim, Yamachan, Immi Eats, and Vite Ramen are the legit to semi-legitimate real ramen brands/products out there, so please support these brands. Also, can 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 the key to everything (even a quinoa only diet can not be really good for you?)

In regards to ingredients, the best quality ramen is by Sun Noodles: wheat flour, purified water, salt and kansui (sodium carbonate, potassium carbonate).

Several prominent ramen restaurants throughout LA and the US use Sun Noodles.

Real Eff’n Ramen B*tches

Japanese “ramen noodle” producers are not ramen challenged at all compared to their American noodle producer cohorts, but that means you only need to focus your money on these five brands.

  • 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 (I used to have a business nearby, and I lived down the street from here. Sidenote: be sure to hit up JC’s Famous BBQ if you are in the area).

Almost Real Ramen

Please also support these brands because truth in product marketing does matter.

  • Immi Eats (a 3/4 point)
    I have had a small dialogue with some dude from Immi Eat, and they seem to really be intent on doing good although my feedback was met with something along the lines of “agree to disagree agree.” Dats coo, bro because at least they are doing a legit product.
  • 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.

The Most Misguided Instant Noodle Brand

This question that would dumbfound the people at Lotus Foods: ask them what the difference is between pho (a rice noodle soup from Vietnam) and ramen (a wheat noodle from Japan) is?

The majority of all noodles from Japan are wheat based, yet Lotus Foods has their rice noodles labeled as ramen (wheat), soba (wheat/buckwheat), and udon (wheat). They avoid any and all connections to Vietnam or other parts of Asia that use rice noodles.
Photo Description: a screenshot of Lotus Foods website with their "organic brown udon rice noodles."
I am sure Lotus Foods will come out with “rice tortillas and rice hummus” soon (is Latin America and the Middle East next?).
  • Lotus Foods (the most oblivious of them all, by far)
    A bunch of buffoons who culturally appropriate to make a buck off of Asian/Japanese culture. Their products imply a Japanese association due to how they name their products, but they have very little connection to the things they claim to associate it with (udon, soba, ramen).

Reality Distortion Field or Stupidity

I will eat my burger with my ramen buns because any bun made of wheat flour and water is ramen which these businesses perpetuate. After all, like a dude named Joseph or one American president knows, if you say it enough times, people will start to believe it (the further dumbification of Americans and Lotus Foods is leading the pack).

This is why it is an issue, I have to conform to Ariela’s understanding regardless of what ramen is, and I have to adhere to her interpretation who later went on to tell me that she had a PhD, so there is such a thing as rice ramen because she says so (and Joseph). She said I was wrong when I said rice noodles are used in SE Asia, not Japan (it is always an assumption that everything Asians do are things made of rice).
Photo Description: "sharing is caring" with a bunch of stars surrounding the bubble gum font which is a play off of the Care Bears.
The Care Bears know this, that’s why they eat real ramen noodles

Also, if you agree with how egregious and misguided these food producers are being, please share this content. If you don’t, enjoy your rice tamale by Lotus Foods.


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