Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Baby Star Crispy Ramen Mini (pizza)

I'm not a ramen fan. In fact, I'm pretty much not into noodles of any kind, though I will eat pasta on occasion. I guess part of the reason for this is the fact that I lived at home during college and never had to subsist on cases of Top Ramen to make ends meet and therefore was denied the dubious salty, carby pleasures of dehydrated noodles. Nonetheless, there is no insignificant sacrifice I won't make on the altar of snack food reviewing so I decided to buy something I never would have purchased before starting this blog.

Bei is the fellow on the left. His twin Bi is on the right. They are dressed in Chinese garb because they endorse ramen. It's important to have ethnically correct cartoon mascots, after all.

Though it boggles the mind that the Japanese need to sell seasoned ramen noodles in little snack packages when they have so many opportunities to eat proper ramen, they do indeed sell it in tiny packets for snacking purposes. I found this 21 gram (.7 oz.) packet in the 4 for 99 yen (99 cents) bin at the local 99 yen shop along with several other flavors.

Since I don't eat ramen, I wasn't familiar with the company that makes these, Oyasu Company (おやすカンパニ). Their slogan, by the way, is "plentiful and happy." They make a variety of ramen under the name "baby star" which has twin mascots named "bei-chan" and "bi-chan". Put their names together and it's "baby" ("ei" in Japanese is pronounced similar to "a" in English). The mascots are garbed differently depending on the flavor of the product. The pizza ramen has the "gondolier Bei" on it because pizza is Italian. If you explore their web site, you'll see that Bei is quite the international dresser. There's cowboy, boat captain, astronaut, farmer, and maharajah Bei among others. Because Japan is a paternalistic culture, poor old Bi only gets one extra outfit.

As one might expect, the bag is full of crispy ramen noodle fragments. They smell like typical pizza seasoning (tomato and cheesy whey, mostly) with a hint of some sort of meaty smell. The ingredients reveal that beef extract is included as well as paprika and cheese, tomato and pizza powders. They are very crunchy, but in such small pieces that it's a bit hard to eat them. You have to grab a whole bunch between your fingers, drop a few down your shirt, and aim the remainder into your mouth. They're actually pretty good, but the pizza flavor saturates your taste buds pretty fast and you get more of a meat flavor mixed with a salty ramen taste.

These are pretty nice and I think they'd satisfy if you wanted a super salty junk food fix in a very tiny portion. The whole bag is 105 calories. It's total trash, but it's enjoyable. I guess that's why so many young people live on ramen throughout their college years.


ebidebby said...

I never lived on ramen in college, either, despite living in a dorm and later an apartment. Hot Pockets, maybe, but never ramen. Still, I love ramen and udon and noodles of all kinds. I never was about to like Baby Star. Without broth to dilute the flavor, it's just too strong for me and makes me feel queasy. I'm sure if I saw a new flavor, though, I'd try it.

Orchid64 said...

I can easily see how this would be too strong for some people. I'm a big fan of very strong flavors on my salty snacks, so this was fine by me. I think it helps to consume a bottle of Diet Coke while eating these to dilute the build up in intensity.

Thanks for commenting!

Kelly said...

I lived with my hubby during university so i didn't do the noodle-thing either! Though i do love real ramen, these remind me of those crispy noodles you can get at chinese restaurants, greasy, and not so good. I would rather have the real deal. ;)

Sherry said...

What I hate about these is that in the stores I shop at this is usually in the area that has all the "junky crapfood" as I call it for kids so they are a targeted at kids. Like you said the pieces are tiny. You would think the tiny fingers of little kids and these would be a perfect match, but no. All these things are good for is getting dropped all over the house and smashed up into tiny bits that are a nightmare to get out of wool rugs.

Not really relevant to the review of their taste, but certainly a reason to hate this snack.

And my kids don't even like it. They just like to smash it up.

Orchid64 said...

I shouldn't find it amusing as I'm sure it's annoying having to clean these out of your carpet, but the idea that your kids just mash them into the carpet and don't actually eat them seemed really funny. I can so see them spilling everywhere. It's just hard to eat them with your fingers without them escaping. If I were you, I'd insist they eat them with a spoon out of a bowl or cup!