One of the questions we get asked the most here at Mike's Mighty Good Craft Ramen is "what exactly is craft ramen and what makes it different from the ramen I grew up with?"
The answer to this riddle is long and involved, and it focuses not just on the "What" but also on the "Why."
As with any craft product, from bread to beer, to fine spirits, pasta, soaps, and ramen, the difference between everyday and extraordinary is in the focus on quality ingredients and scratch recipes. It means creating the best product possible even if that means a smaller batch size and higher costs.
What makes craft ramen noodles special?
Craft ramen, and especially the ramen we create on a daily basis here at Mike’s Mighty Good, is a product of the desire to improve the at-home ramen experience and hopefully create the ultimate comfort food.
Instant ramen is and always has been meant to be a true analog to the dining experience of enjoying freshly made ramen noodles in a ramen restaurant. While many folks' first experience with instant noodles or ramen noodles in general is an inexpensive, but also delicious noodle soup packet, instant ramen has grown beyond the classic college comfort staple, to something far more satiating and enjoyable.
When building a craft ramen experience, the focus has to always be on the flavor. One of the tradeoffs for the convenience of at-home instant ramen noodles is the loss of depth of flavor.
Instant ramen is undeniably delicious; it's designed to be so. Packed with flavor extracts, dehydrated broths, and seasonings, the flavor packet included with most everyday instant ramen is a distillation of ramen broth flavors into an easy to prepare powder.
When you distill flavor down into its component parts as you do with most instant ramen with fried noodles and complicated ingredients, you lose a lot of what makes ramen so special: the interplay of complex flavor profiles.
Ramen shop broth is far deeper in flavor than the ramen broth that accompanies most instant ramen, and this is the first goal of craft ramen. After years of testing and research, we think we've created an insanely rich broth base/flavor packet that provides all the tastes and flavor profiles found in the best ramen shops worldwide.
Creating ramen from scratch at home takes a lot of work, and that is one of the main advantages of instant ramen over homemade ramen. For many, the work might be worth it, but for others, instant ramen with its simple ingredients is just easier. With the ability to "hack" ramen noodles with toppings, mix-ins, stir-frys, and more, instant ramen noodles are incredibly versatile. That’s really what ramen is all about - having fun, mixing it up, and creating something new.
The real issue for many is that when you go with an instant product like instant ramen noodles, you lose out on the freshness that comes from real ingredients and cooking methods.
Most ramen packets are incredibly refined and packed with preservatives. The reality is that for many instant noodle brands, the broths and flavors are full of way too much sodium and complex, engineered ingredients. The result is that you lose out on the nuance and flavor of the broth.
For craft ramen, like the delicious flavors we create here every day at Mike’s Mighty Good, the goal is to always retain the freshness and flavor that comes from using simple ingredients and organic ramen noodles made in-house from scratch.
Less salt but still packed with flavor
Craft ramen normally has less salt than classic ramen styles, and this is again because of the fresh, whole ingredients used in the production of every package of Mike's Mighty Good Craft Ramen.
Processed foods like most instant ramen can be a huge source of sodium in your diet, and if you've ever looked at the nutrition facts on most instant ramen packages, then you should already know how high in sodium it is.
Mike’s Mighty Good’s craft ramen, on the other hand, has roughly 40% less sodium per ounce than the leading instant ramen brand.
Steamed, Not Fried
It may be well and good to focus on flavor and fresh ingredients, but the heart of craft ramen noodles is the noodles.
Most leading ramen brands fry their noodles to dry them quickly and preserve them for packaging. This is one of the many reasons that most instant ramen brands are a less-than-healthy meal option.
Frying the noodles not only increases their fat content, it also muddies the flavor of the broth they go in. Because the noodles capture and hold onto some of the oil used in the cooking process, the oil is then released during the final boiling, thus creating a fatty, but less flavorful broth.
On the other hand, the craft ramen noodles we make here at Mike’s Mighty Good are always steamed instead of fried, creating a ridiculously amazing overall food experience.
The steaming process cooks the noodles in almost the same way fresh noodles are cooked in boiling water. This leaves the noodles with a chewier, bouncier texture that more closely resembles the noodles you'd find in ramen bars worldwide.
We wanted to give you the taste and texture of noodles from a ramen restaurant… this was no easy feat! We couldn’t find organic and steamed ramen noodles with the amazing quality we were looking for, so we realized we had to do it ourselves! We literally make each batch of our steamed, organic instant ramen noodles in-house from scratch in our California factory each day. They’re flour, salt, and water - that’s it.
Unique Flavors and Styles.
Craft ramen is a broad category, but it is defined by unique and delicious flavor combinations beyond great ingredients, small batch size, and inventive flavors.
Here at Mike’s Mighty Good, we get excited about making something crazy good and really new. We’re constantly inspired by the amazing things happening in the restaurant scene and love trying new things, mixing it up, and having fun.
Pork Tonkotsu ramen may be one of the most recognizable ramen flavors ever. Made from a combination of flavor-packed, roasted pork broth, perfectly cooked ramen noodles, and delicious pork chashu, Pork Tonkotusu is for many, the gold standard of ramen styles.
The Spicy Pork Tonkotsu flavor from Mike’s Mighty Good is inspired by classic pork tonkotsu flavor note with our own exciting twist! Available in both a noodle cup or a pillow pack, this ramen noodle flavor is built to be hacked. Whether you're adding a simple ramen egg, a slice of American cheese, or going for gold with a heaping helping of pork chashu, the Spicy Pork Tonkotsu flavor is along for the ride.
Fried Garlic Chicken Ramen
While Pork Tonkotsu, Shoyu, and Miso Ramen maybe some of the more recognizable styles, Chicken Ramen has long held its place as one of the tastiest ramen styles.
Like the Pork Tonkotsu style, the Fried Garlic Chicken Ramen flavor from Mike’s Mighty Good is a great example of what makes craft ramen so much better than the typical instant ramen noodles most of us grew up eating.
The attention to detail in the flavor base used to build the broth is insane. When prepared, this easy-to-make ramen noodle pack will leave your kitchen filled with fried garlic and deep roasted chicken aroma thanks to the high-quality ingredients used to create the broth base.
With 40% less sodium than other ramen brands, it's impossible to tell that the delicious chicken broth you enjoy with every pack of Fried Garlic Chicken Ramen is any less salty than typical instant ramen.
Savory Beef Ramen
While the Beef Ramen Flavor from Mike’s Mighty Good might not be as spicy and adventurous as some our other flavors… it’s just… chef’s kiss. It’s that good.
Beef Ramen is maybe the most familiar type of ramen noodles for many who grew up with instant ramen as comfort food and is easy to prepare as a meal or snack. If you've ever eaten a classic beef-flavored instant ramen, you're probably already aware of how fast and loose the term "beef-flavored" actually is.
In contrast, the Savory Beef Ramen from Mike's Mighty Good is packed with rich, roasted beef flavor. In a sort of "the shnozberries taste like shnozberries" situation, it's striking how much this beef ramen broth can taste like a bowl of freshly grilled or roasted beef.
Toss in some steak, brisket, or BBQ and you’ve got one heck of a meal.
Craft Ramen vs. Classic Instant Ramen.
Just like there are times for an inexpensive light lager or a cheap bar of soap, there will always be times when you want something just a bit finer in life, and that's why variety is the spice of life!
If you've ever enjoyed a nice craft beer, a tasty loaf of locally made bread, or even a well-crafted local spirit, you might find a lot of value in a craft ramen lifestyle. Made from scratch, with real ingredients, craft ramen takes your at-home ramen experience to the next level, and with a few simple hacks or upgrades, you might need to start taking reservations for your very own ramen bar!
Check out some of our awesome ramen recipes here.