I started enjoying instant noodles at around 8 years old. I started with Nissin Roasted Ramen – but then it disappeared.
My family took me to Uwajimaya in Seattle (a long drive as we lived in Anacortes) to hunt it down. It turned out that the Roasted Ramen was an Americanized version of the flagship Nissin Chikin Ramen that Momofuku Ando produced starting in 1958. During my trip to Uwajimaya, I became enamored with all the different types of instant noodles available. I would get to visit the store once in a while when my family drove to Seattle and try new varieties.
In 2002, I decided I would like to start cataloging my finds, and the early form of The Ramen Rater was born. I did around 50 or so reviews and lost interest in the project.
In early 2010, my fiancée (now wife) and I moved to Edmonds. We moved into an apartment complex that was within walking distance of good sized Asian groceries such as 99 Ranch Market and Boo Han Market. With such easy access to instant noodles, I decided to ‘reboot’ the blog and start again, making changes in my cataloging style here and there.
Two years later, I have reviewed well over 900 unique varieties from all over the world. On The Ramen Rater you can search by country, brand, flavor and more. A new change is that a fan base has erupted, and often I receive donations from folks in other countries that would like to see their favorite noodles reviewed. Also, large companies that make instant noodles have taken notice.
Nongshim, a South Korean company and makers of Shin Ramyun and Bowl Noodle flew my wife and I to their headquarters in California, gave us a tour of their plant and got to sample noodles they were working on producing in their R&D department.
Every day I review something new. From Vietnam, Japan, South Korea, China, Taiwan, Fiji, Canada, England, Thailand, India, Dubai, the United States – and even more places. I think what really fascinates me is how different each one truly is. Most people say ‘gee, I didn’t know there were that many flavors of Top Ramen.‘ People in the United States don’t understand that people eat instant noodles all over the world and take pride in them as well.
The short term future looks pretty good too – an Android app is being developed, review #1000 is coming closer by the day, another The Ramen Rater’s Momofuku Ando Day should be along in January, and a supermarket in South Korea called emart will be promoting their new ultra hot Dare You! Habanero Ramen with a picture of me and a logo from my site on it.
Pretty neat for just enjoying noodles enough to talk about them!