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Review: Rilakkuma Instant Noodle Cooker

When I joined Weight Watchers nearly a month ago, I told myself that despite the fact that I might lose weight slower, there were a couple of things that I just couldn’t give up. One of those things was ramen. Now, growing up, I had no idea what the heck “ramen” was because in my house, we just called it saimin.

Eventually, when I reached my mid-twenties, I learned that saimin is a dish local to Hawaii with a milder soup base and moderately thick noodles. While there are dozens and dozens of Japanese ramen shops around the island of Oahu, there are also saimin shops and believe it or not, despite both looking almost exactly the same they are distinctly different and one can sometimes have a craving for saimin, but not ramen and vice versa.

If you want ramen, you go to places like Ezogiku, Kiwami, Tenkaippin, or Goma Tei. If you want saimin, you go to Zippy’s, Boulevard Saimin, or Shiro’s Saimin Haven.

Rilakkuma Ramen Cooker

Since I am the unofficial Queen of Bento Box Hoarders, I find myself browsing other parts of J-List for things to use up my credit on. For some reason, I decided I wanted to try this Rilakkuma Microwave Instant Noodle Cooker, even though I am extremely anti-microwave when it comes to instant ramen. I suspect once when I was a kid I tried it and it tasted horrible, because I can’t recall ever having eaten a microwaved bowl of instant ramen in the last 20 years or so. You couldn’t pay me to eat a Cup-O-Noodles.

Actually, I guess I could force myself to eat one if the reward was right, but I’d bitch and moan about how disgusting it was for at least a few weeks afterwards.

Sapporo Ichiban

It’s quite possible that me and my whole family called this “saimin” because it doesn’t actually say ramen on the package. I didn’t actually know what ramen was until after 1997, when I moved to Honolulu for college. If you’ve never tried instant ramen before, all you need to know is that Sapporo Ichiban is the only brand that deserves to exist on store shelves. It comes in Original, Shrimp, Chicken, Beef, and Miso. Original is basically a “shoyu ramen” flavor.

I’d eaten some packages of Mum’s and Top Ramen when utterly on the brink of starvation as a teenager, but now that I have a job and do my own food shopping, I can take precautions to ensure that me and my family never have to eat crappy brands of instant noodles.

The noodle cooker comes with a very large bowl, a cute Rilakkuma cover with a steam vent and an opening for pouring out excess water should you only want the noodles. Inside, there’s an optional little “rack” for you to use when steaming vegetables with this cooker. Since I was making noodles, I didn’t use the rack.

In addition to me being a total snob about my brand of instant noodles, my 25 years of experience cooking my own packets of Sapporo Ichiban have taught me that no matter how good this brand tastes, overcooking it leads to a disgusting bowl of goop. Cook it to perfection and leave it on the table for five minutes and your instant ramen eating experience can be ruined. The noodles must be at a perfect consistency, just al dente and not completely cooked through, which you can tell by a light tinge of the noodles. That way, by the time you put it in a bowl, get a drink, and sit down, it’s done just right. It must be eaten ASAP.

Cooked Noodles

I filled the bowl up to just under 500 mg because by now I’m able to determine by eye how watery I want my soup. The side of the bowl is marked with a line for 500 and 600 mgs. Since I was doing this at work where we have a rather powerful microwave, I started off with 2 minutes. It wasn’t done very well, so I put it back in for another 1:30. This led to the perfect noodle consistency I mentioned and I took my bowl back to my office.

I should note that there’s a little tab on the lid and a little tab on the bowl. You need to make sure the two tabs are on the same side or the lid doesn’t snap on quite as securely as it’s supposed to. The tabs should be on the same side, but not align.

After I took the bowl back to my office, I added the soup base powder. The instructions on J-List said to add it after, so that’s why I didn’t put it in while cooking, despite the fact that I always do that when cooking it in a pot.

Original Flavor Sapporo Ichiban

I mixed it all up and chowed down. Things looked good, as my internal Noodle Consistency Meter was pointing to a delicious lunch.

Mmm ramen!

Ohhh yes! Perfection!

Another plus to the cooker is that it reduces dishes. I hate having to wash a pot, a bowl, and a utensil with the stovetop method, but since I’ve been doing it my entire life, I see no real reason to stop now if I have a stove nearby.

I am fully aware that nuking food in plastic sounds disgusting to some and I agree to a certain extent, so I still plan to use a pot for my Sapporo Ichiban cooking at home. However, when one is at work, there aren’t many options to go by and this microwave cooker did the job so well I couldn’t tell the difference between this and stovetop. I plan on stocking the cooker at my office in a plastic bag with a Sapporo Ichiban packet for days when I don’t have time to pack a lunch and don’t want to spend 10 bucks to eat.

Priced at $16.00, I’m not entirely sure I would buy it on my own, but if you have some credit handy or don’t mind the price, I’m pretty happy with my purchase.

I plugged it in to the Weight Watchers tool and was astonished to find out that it was only 4 points. After pondering this for a bit, I looked at the package again and saw that 1 serving is 1/3 of the package. I started to bust up laughing because who in the world eats only 1/3 of this package? Nice try, Sapporo Ichiban. If your ramen didn’t taste so good I’d raise a big stink about such a misleading nutritional label. Turns out, lunch today was a whopping 13 points, eek!

My weight this morning was 147.8 lbs!