This year the first Ramen Expo USA was held in Austin, Texas, and it was as Ramen-tastic as you can imagine! Checkout the following video of Ramen Expo USA 2017! Read below for our detailed review of the event.
As you can see by the video, there were a lot of vendors providing samples of their おいしい (delicious) ramen, and other ramen-related goods. The great people at Ramen Expo USA 2017 were gracious enough to provide us with Media passes, so here are our thoughts on the food and the event.
Wakou USA, Inc. Ramen
We tried Wakou USA Inc.’s Original Tonkotsu (left) and Miso Tonkotsu (right). The Tonkotsu Ramen was lightly fatty, and the noodles tasted very fresh. We added a bit of black pepper for some extra kick, and it paired very well with the broth.
The Miso Tonkotsu Ramen was a very traditional Tokyo-style broth, which had a professional taste to it. I’ve always been a fan of miso ramen, so this one was a great ramen to start the day.
Of course, Wakou USA, Inc. sells items to make their broth so you can checkout their goods here: Wakou USA
Sun Noodle North America
Sun Noodle brought a couple of great ramen dishes with them, so we had to try all of them—for full review purposes of course.
The first was the Tonkotsu Shoyu Ramen, which had a very full flavor. The noodles really complemented the dish, as they were very wavy and allowed you to catch a lot of the broth.
Next was the Torigara Chicken Shoyu Ramen, which also had great chewy noodles. Noodles are what Sun Noodle do.
Finally, we tried heir Vegetarian Mabo Tofu Miso Mazemen (pictured above)—try saying that three times! This ramen had an interesting spicy flavor, almost similar to many Chinese dishes. But the spice was not overwhelming, and provided good body to the ramen. Interestingly, this ramen did not have any broth.
To get some delicious Sun Noodle noodles, take a look at their site: Sun Noodle
Fuji Foods Corp.
The next vendor we visited was Fuji Foods Corp.. They sell ramen broth, but I was sadly disappointed with their products.
We tried their Tonkotsu Ramen (left) and Miso Ramen (right). The Tonkotsu broth had a very milky color–like most Tonkotsu–but it seemed paler than most. Beyond the color, the taste was not very deep, and had a cup-noodle/powdery taste.
The Miso Ramen broth was my least favorite of the entire event, as it had a strange sour flavor and an almost medicine-like after-taste.
Importantly, the noodles they used were not connecting with the broth, and it left your mouth wanting for a more cohesive flavor. This is an important lesson that the broth is very important, but you mustn’t forget about the noodles.
We are hoping that we can try more of their products, to give them another opportunity: www.fujifoodsusa.com
Takara Ramen, Inc.
Luckily, our day of ramen got a lot better as soon as we tried Takara Ramen Inc.’s Shoyu Tonkotsu Ramen (pictured).
This ramen was my favorite of the day. It had a wonderfully deep buttery flavor, which left you wanting another slurp. The noodles were thin but firm, and provided an amazing balance to the rich broth. The chashu was also very soft and juicy, with just enough fat along the edge.
We asked the Takara Ramen staff about their broth, but they remained tight-lipped about their secret–though we think that almond butter may be a player in this ramen. We also learned that they had a light ground-hominy paste, which is a great nod to the Texas area.
The overall feel of this stall was very inviting, and the portion size of the ramen was the largest at the event. It was clear that they had a vision for their ramen, which they carried throughout the entire experience.
Definitely checkout Takara Ramen, Inc.’s noodles here: Takara Ramen
JFC International, Inc.
JFC International had a very interactive ramen setup, where you pick your own miso or tonkotsu paste, the broth style, and any toppings you like–such as naruto or chashu slices.
The Shoyu Tonkotsu ramen we tried was a very normal, well-known flavor, and the Miso Ramen was also a simple take on ramen. This was a little bit surprising, since you basically created your ramen from all the different parts.
However, the noodles had a strong egg flavor, which is not necessarily a bad thing. You just have to like the flavor of egg noodles. Also, it was very clear that these noodles were very fresh, so that is definitely a plus.
Bonus points for having kale noodles–which I had never seen before in ramen.
Take a look at all of the JFC International Goods here: JFC
Otafuku Foods, Inc.
Yes, this was Ramen Expo USA, but my favorite dish of the day was Otafuku Foods, In.c’s dreamy Okonomiyaki!
It was simply amazing. The okonomiyaki had just the right crunch and blend of flavors, and the sauce was so sweet with a wonderfully light freshness. I am not kidding when I say that I returned for seconds–and maybe thirds (the Otafuku employees were kind to not say anything).
We loved the okonomiyaki so much that we tried to buy a jug (yes, a jug!) of the sauce, but sadly they did not have any for sale. I hope someone at Otafuku Foods reads this and sends us a sample of that sauce!
Run–yes RUN–and order some of Otafuku Foods Inc.’s amazing sauce: Otafuku Foods
Samurai Noodle Inc., led by founder Ryo Izawa, exhibited from Houston, TX. Their ramen fit well with all of the Japanese ramen at the event. We tried their Shouyu Tonkotsu Ramen, a blend from Japan’s Hakata (Fukuoka) and the Tokyo region, and were pleasantly surprised by its simple and light taste. Though it didn’t have too much fat, it maintained a deep flavor.
Be aware that the black mushroom in this ramen is strong, so watch out: Samurai Noodle
Somi Foods’ Paitan G Ramen Soup was one of the most surprising, as it tasted like it had beef–but there was no beef in it! All of the flavoring came from a manipulation of fish flavor. Think about that for a minute. Ramen that tastes like beef, but is made of only fish. Wow.
Try some for yourself here: Somi Foods
We don’t have much to say about Misoya’s Ramen, as we really couldn’t stand the saltiness of this ramen. We are not sure what happened to the batch of ramen we tried, but it was clear that there was just too much salt in it.
We would love to give them another chance the next time we are in a city with a Misoya: Misoya
Yamachan Ramen had good ramen, but their staff was great! The gentleman pictured above provided us with many different noodle and broth samples, so that we can try to make some Yamachan Ramen at home.
We will be preparing some Yamachan Ramen soon, so please lookout for those videos and reviews.
Everyone needs to checkout Yamachan Ramen’s site, because they go above and beyond in customer service–and they have a Japanese Ramen School in California!: Yamachan Ramen
Day-Lee Foods Inc.
Day-Lee Foods Inc. brought a great setup of different types of Gyoza and Karage–which are favorite of ours. After eating so much ramen, this was a good change.
Next time, I’d recommend that they bring a heating setup, as some of the gyoza began getting a bit too cold. Grab some Gyoza or Karage here: Day-Lee
Koh-Itten Iwata Co., Ltd.
Miso Ramen is my favorite ramen dish, and it wouldn’t be possible without miso—I mean, its in the name! Enter Koh-Itten Iwata Co., Ltd.’s miso, which is manufactured in Hokkaido, Japan.
We actually tried their signature Hokkaido miso, and were surprised by its very full and bold flavor. We can imagine that this miso would allow for a depth of taste in any miso ramen.
The team at Koh-Itten Iwata were kind enough to provide us with a large bag of their miso, so that we can try it in multiple dishes. Lookout for our review on their miso coming soon! And don’t forget to buy your own here: Koh-Itten
Nishiyama Seimen Co., Ltd.
Nishiyama Seimen’s stall had a long line all day, so we weren’t able to try their ramen at the event. Fortunately, they were kind enough to provide us with some noodles and sauces to make ramen at home. We have actually finished making this ramen–lookout for the video very soon–and we can say that it was so delicious.
If we were able to make this delicious ramen at home, then we know it was even more amazing at the event. People know good ramen, and the long lines said it all. Take a look at their noodles here: Nishiyama Seimen
Yamasan Miyake Co., Ltd.
The full ramen experience wouldn’t be complete without some great ramen bowls to put that heavenly food in. And Yamasan Miyake Co. brought some amazing pieces to the event.
They are also able to make custom bowls for different shapes, sizes, and designs. I’d love to have a Yamasan Miyake Co. bowl for my ramen, so don’t be afraid to send us a sample!
You can get your custom bowls here: Yamasan Miyake
Ito En (North America) Inc.
And your ramen meal wouldn’t be complete without some great Ito En drinks. We were able to sample some refreshing green tea drinks, which were very refreshing after all of that warm ramen. You can’t go wrong with their drinks, since they have worked so many years at perfecting their drinks.
I wanted to take an entire bottle with me, but they weren’t selling any of them. Again, feel free to send some our way, and we will gladly review them.
Buy some Ito En products here: Ito En
Ramen Expo USA 2017 Thoughts
For the very first Ramen Expo in the United States, I’m really glad that they chose Austin, Texas for the venue. The city has a lot of ramen lovers, and the weather was surprisingly cool for Texas.
The space at the Travis Count Exposition Center was great, since they were located in the smaller building on-site. Still, part of me hopes that next year it will be in the downtown area, since I know they would have drawn so many more people in if they could move it closer to the center of the city.
I was very satisfied with the layout of the expo, since there were many “eating areas”–key when you are stopping to eat your ramen. The staff was also very helpful and polite.
All of the vendors at the event were also very excited to meet and speak with the attendees, and were happy to serve you a taste of all of their ramen and foods. I’ve been to other events, but the customer service here was at the highest level. The vendors let us have the following noodles, drinks, and miso, which we will review in some of our next videos and posts:
We are definitely looking forward to next-year’s event!