|Jan. 14th, 2005 @ 04:22 pm Koyo Ramen (MSG-Free)|
A little while ago, someone asked if there was any ramen out there without MSG. I gave a little history behind the MSG, and pointed out that Westbrae made a ramen that used Kombu powder instead of MSG, but they were hard to find and expensive. I can get them for $2.19/package, and no, the package is no larger than the Nissin or Maruchan ramen you can find in the supermarket for about twenty cents.
I have found another brand of MSG-free Ramen, Affinity Foods now sells three varieties of Ramen under its Koyo Brand. There currently are only three flavors offered: mushroom, seaweed and Tofu & Miso. Like Westbrae, they all use Kombu powder instead of MSG. Unlike Westbrae, I got these for "only" seventy cents per packet.
I tried the mushroom. It's packaged like the ramen for western distribution, a block of noodles with a packet of powdered seasoning (eastern distribution ramen generally has a packet for seasoned oil as well, and sometimes a third packet for chili powder or nori). It takes a hair longer to cook than Nissin or Maruchan (the package suggests four minutes rather than three).
The taste is excellent. I made it straight, without doctoring, but the taste should also work well as a base for doctoring or for use in other dishes. I would definately get this ramen again. I find the taste better than the supermarket brands, and as good (but less greasy) as the asian market brands.
The price is higher than most other ramen, but you are paying for the better quality ingredients (it is QAI Certified Organic) and the narrower distribution. If you love ramen, but are allergic to MSG, or trying to cut down on artificial ingredients, or trying to eat more organic foods, or are vegitarian (I think these should even work for vegans), I would recommend seeking this out.
I found it at my local health food store. I don't think you will find it in most Asian import stores, but it doesn't hurt to look there anyway. A supermarket with a good natural foods selection might carry it as well. If you can't find it anywhere, Affinity Foods has an Online Store which doesn't appear to carry it, but has a phone number where you might be able to badger them into sending you some.