Instant Ramen Japan by 5 AM Ramen – As is well-known nowadays, ramen is not just Japan’s favorite comfort food, it is an entire institution in itself.
Many Japanese regions have associated, signature ramen versions. Within major cities, decades-old shops compete intensely to ensure their unique interpretations stand above the rest.
There are also homages like the Shin-Yokohama Ramen Museum. This, perhaps the best testimony to how beloved the steamy, savory noodles are among the Japanese.
With 5 AM Ramen, anyone can now enjoy a taste of this Japanese passion too, no matter where one is. A ramen box service, 5 AM Ramen doesn’t merely ship out boxes of standard instant ramen, each of their packs is curated to represent the best of the ramen world. Premium instant ramen Japan by 5 AM Ramen, in other words. Conceptualized and prepared by top names in the industry too.
Last week, I had the pleasure of trying these Ramen Pack brought to you by 5 AM Ramen, which consists of five unique instant ramen bowls each with a special feature. The following is my experience from delivery to cooking, to feasting.
Before I continue, allow me to say what’s delivered was as promised; these weren’t ubiquitous, budget instant meals found in supermarkets worldwide. All were premium products.
Cooked correctly, some could even fool me into believing they were takeouts from the famed shops that made them.
Table of Contents
How It Works
A rundown of how 5 AM Ramen works, as well as their key selling points.
A webshop as well as a subscription service, you can make a one-time purchase or subscribe up to 12 months at one go. The latter naturally comes with a discount.
There are also different options to cater to different consumers. For example, a dairy-free collection.
Thirdly, every purchase unlocks background information on the packs bought, as well as written and video cooking instructions in English. I think the latter is a thoughtful touch because even if you read Japanese, printed instructions on the bowls could often be hard to decipher because of font size and the lack of images.
Not to mention, there would rarely be comprehensive shop information printed.
Regarding 5 AM delivery, please note that Standard Airmail Deliveries for some countries are currently suspended because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Customers in these countries could, however, opt for other options. Please visit the FAQ section of this page for details.
Five Premium Ramen Experiences in One Box
The following are summaries of the five premium instant ramen I received. As promised on 5 AM Ramen’s page, no two are alike. Together, they also represent five of the most beloved and popular ramen types in Japan.
Santora Oshima Miso Ramen: A tie-up between Santora and Oshima, two top Tokyo ramen shops, this Sapporo-style miso ramen promises a rich, buttery indulgence. One that’s also accentuated by hints of ginger and garlic.
Tonari Tanmen: Tanmen is beloved by fans for its salt-seasoned soup and stirred-fried vegetable toppings. Tonari of Tokyo ensures the same experience by including a sizable bag of crispy vegetable bits with their instant ramen bowl. There is also a bag of ginger paste to top the meal with.
Nakiryu Tantanmen: Nakiryu is one of Tokyo’s Michelin star ramen shops, and this spicier ramen by them is described as having a variety of flavors. From the creaminess of white sesame paste to the fiery bite of chili oil, to hints of chicken and duck in the soup.
Keika Tonkotsu Ramen: Kumamoto’s Keika prepared their Tonkotsu instant ramen with a punchy twist. By including black garlic oil, an extra depth is added to the taste of the broth. There is also a slice of chashu to complete the meal with.
Hachioji Shoyu Ramen: Named after the “Eight Princes” city bordering Tokyo, this soy sauce ramen uses chopped raw onions instead of spring onions, and comes with a soup base flavored with generous amounts of pork lard. Described as sweet and smooth, and rich, with every scoop.
In a nutshell, I enjoyed “premium instant ramen” for lunch over three days, with every day a different culinary experience.
All bowls that I opened also had at least three packs of condiments, soup base, flavoring oil, etc. With 5 AM’s English instructions, however, none were confusing to prepare. In fact, the process is invariably the same procedure of first softening the noodles with boiling water, then adding in the soup base/sauce and stirring well.
It was so easy, even a non-cook like me got everything done in five minutes. And I haven’t cracked an egg in over ten years.
This was the bowl I was most keen on trying. Not just because I love Tantanmen, but because Nakiryu is a heavyweight in the Tokyo ramen scene.
As mentioned above, Nakiryu is one of Tokyo’s three Michelin star ramen shops. Queues before the no-reservations shop are legendary.
Here’s how it went. First off, this did not at all taste like instant ramen. I’m sure you’re aware how instant noodles and the likes of tend to have a powdery aftertaste because of the drying process. There’s none at all in this bowl and I could have been fooled in believing it was freshly cooked ramen.
Secondly, the sesame paste was rich! I only added 3/4s of the pack and the broth was already full of kick. Vice versa, the chili oil wasn’t too overpowering, perhaps on the lighter side for some diners but just right for me. The same with the peppery hints.
In all, it’s very near to enjoying a good Tantanmen at an actual ramen shop. It made me very eager to try the other bowls too.
Keika Tonkotsu Ramen
I shared this bowl with a family member as truth be told, I’m nowadays not too fond of Tonkotsu ramen. Or should I say, the “piggy” smell that sometimes hangs over Tonkotsu broth.
I’m pleased to say this. There was no piggy smell at all with this instant ramen, there was just creamy, meaty goodness in the soup. The black garlic oil also gave an extra twist to everything. This additional layer of taste remained pronounced even after I thoroughly mixed the oil into the soup.
On the other hand, the round, thin chashu was a bit of a hit-and-miss. It was nowhere near terrible, but it tasted more like salami than actual Japanese chashu. The same goes for its smooth texture.
The veggy ramen took a bit more effort to cook, as it had four packs of condiments and bases. But it was worth it.
A leafy fragrance emerged the moment I added boiling water to the noodles and topping. Once I stirred in the soup base and sauce, the soup thickened and achieved a light but complex flavor. One that went very well with the chewy noodles and cabbage bits.
If any, my only complaint was that the final condiment of ginger paste was somewhat lost in the soup after I added it; I shouldn’t have stirred it. (My mistake when reading the instructions) To experience the full tangy goodness of this paste, I ought to have left it at the side or in a dish.
An Experiment with Santora Oshima Miso Ramen
According to video instructions, this premium instant miso ramen by two top shops is meant to be eaten dry. As in, there’s an outlet for you to drain the hot water after softening the noodles.
I didn’t and instead mixed in the provided sauce and powder, so as to form a version somewhat similar to the soupy types I often eat.
The result? It still tasted decent. The soup was not as rich or savory as I hoped it would be, but it was still palatable enough and there was an interesting ginger note. One that was refreshing.
What I’m saying here is, I feel it’s not absolutely necessary to cook any of the bowls strictly according to instructions. If you’re experimental enough, you could prepare them the way you prefer. The quality of the ingredients ensures it’d still be a yummy meal.
Ramen Pack brought to you by 5 AM Ramen
Let me address an area I haven’t yet mentioned, that of price. At a single purchase price of USD 59/- for the premium pack, 5 AM Ramen is on the pricier end. I should mention that shipping is free with airmail (fast delivery) to most countries.
But I feel you get your money’s worth, especially if you don’t have any authentic ramen shops where you live. Simply put, it’s not just branding by famous shops, the instant ramen delivered is indeed of premium quality. Prepare any properly and there’s little difference from what one gets in an actual restaurant too. The only goodies missing would be fresh toppings such as onsen eggs and actual chashu, which you can always add on your own.
Preparation itself is also a breeze, thanks to detailed online instructions. Lastly, it’s fun and convenient! Even in Japan, one would have quite a bit of traveling to do to enjoy different premium ramen each day. But with this service, everything is possible in the comfort of one’s home.
A devoted solo traveler from Singapore who has loved Japan since young. His first visits to the country were all because of video game and Manga homages. Today, he still visits for the same reasons, in addition to enjoying Japan’s culture, history, and hot springs.