- Frank Striegl
Iida Shoten Instant Ramen - Any Good?
Iida Shoten is technically Japan's no. 1 ranked ramen shop. Naturally, there was a lot of buzz when they released an instant ramen.
As someone who's eaten at Iida Shoten, here's my take on their official, premium instant ramen!
Ramen Iida Shoten - Top of Japan
Ramen shops rise and fall like the tides on lists where they’re ranked. But Iida Shoten in Yugawara, Kanagawa has always been towards the top of every list. More recently, they've held the no. 1 ramen spot on several Japanese websites, including Tabelog and Ramen Database.
Rankings are a subjective thing. Regardless, Iida Shoten is among the most famous ramen shops in all of Japan. Their signature dish is a shoyu (soy sauce) ramen that showcases a beautiful chicken-anchored soup.
This ramen is ridiculously complex, with ingredients gathered from all over Japan. The most delicious flavors in the soup come from whole chickens and chicken bones.
This is the ramen that Iida Shoten decided to make instant. They did so with an emphasis on the same chicken-anchored soup.
Iida Shoten Instant Ramen Paradise
So the expectations were high for this instant ramen, to say the least. Instant ramen heavyweight Maruchan was tasked to make it.
It's also sold under 7-Elven's "Gold" brand - which adds even more pressure! There's a photo of owner Iida-san himself on the cover.
When you open the cover, you'll find four separate packets. Two packets are for the soup and two are for the toppings. One of the soup packets (light blue) contains an aroma oil with flavors you won't find at their ramen shop. We'll get to this below.
In short, the soup is astounding! Nowadays there are many instant ramen that do a great job of duplicating the warm flavors you get from a ramen soup with whole chickens.
But this instant ramen might do the absolute best job. The soup is bursting with chicken flavors. This is not to mention the chicken oil syrupy consistency that it has.
The shoyu (soy sauce) base is sweet and tangy. Lastly, the aroma oil packet adds a whole other dimension of flavor. It's a sansho (numbing pepper) oil and it really brightens up the soup. This is something you don't get at their actual ramen shop.
For toppings, there's a slice of chashu pork, crunchy menma (bamboo shoots), negi (spring onions), and two sheets 0f dried nori (seaweed).
The toppings didn't wow me as much as the soup did. To be clear, they're great. But they're also the standard toppings Maruchan uses in their nicer instant ramen. In other words, Maruchan played it safe.
But I'm not sure what else they could have done - these toppings match what you find in Iida Shoten's ramen. If it ain't broke, don't fix it!
The non-flash fried noodles are thin and really soak up the soup. This is sometimes the case with Maruchan's noodles.
But these noodles acting like a super straw isn't a bad thing when the soup is so refreshingly light. So it works well with this instant ramen.
My final score for Iida Shoten's official instant ramen is 5/5. The toppings and noodles are what you'd expect from a high-quality instant ramen.
But it's the soup that steals the show here. Again, it's probably the best example of a shoyu-based, chicken-anchored soup in the instant ramen world. It's therefore okay that the toppings and noodles play a more pedestrian role. Outstanding.