Umai Crate Subscription Box Review + Coupon – October 2018
My Subscription Addiction paid for this box. (Check out the review process post to learn more about how we review boxes).
About Umai Crate
The Subscription Box: Umai Crate
The Cost: $30 a month + free shipping
COUPON: Use code MSA3 to save $3 off your first Japan Crate Premium, Doki Doki Crate, Umai Crate, or Kira Kira Crate
The Products: 7-8 Japanese-exclusive instant noodle dish + a bonus collectible
Ships to: Worldwide
Umai Crate October 2018 Review
This month’s Umai Crate booklet lists each of the items with a quick description, cooking instructions, and recommended add-ins. This is super helpful to review before and during taste testing. There is also a recipe card for creamy tarako pasta. I had plans to make the pasta, but after tasting the tarako udon sauce itself, I decided to forego it. More on that later.
Let’s get to noodling!
This instant udon was recommended for a cool fall night, which were the exact circumstances under which I prepared it. Complete with bonito (dried fish flakes) and kelp broth, the wakame udon promised a deep, savory taste. Watching the kelp pieces hydrate was really wild; it was like dripping water onto a scrunched up straw wrapper. The taste was just okay: salty, a little bit fishy, and very savory. The noodles themselves were chewy like most instant udon. They didn’t knock my socks off or anything. To try this udon once was all right, but I don’t think I’d seek them out again in the future.
Natural Ramen Sesame Soy Sauce
Next up, we have this seemingly simple ramen, geared toward fans of sesame flavor and soy sauce. I qualify! After stirring the soup packet into the cooked noodles, I added some additional fresh green onion, as you can see. The fragrance of this dish was so good! As for the taste, the broth was surprisingly elevated compared to everyday instant noodles, and the sesame seeds gave this ramen a nice crunch. Warm and comforting, I’d reach for these again.
I found these noodles to be the most intriguing of the month. According to legend, this style of ramen came to be after a chef accidentally over-boiled his broth. To this day, kurume-style ramen shops recycle their old broth for the rich flavor profile, as it doesn’t require the addition of extra fat. The noodles had sort of a buttery scent while boiling. The broth had a really unique complexity, of which I’ve had iterations in ramen shops before. It far transcended a basic instant noodle pack. Also, this long and round style of noodle is really growing on me. With a protein and some vegetables thrown in, this kurume ramen would make for a solid meal.
Onion Salad Soup
I was a little wary of boiling less than 1 cup of water for this soup mix, given how large the packaging was, but upon tearing off the top, three small packages appeared. Neat! Crafted from roasted onions and parsley, this soup was nice and savory, like a typical French onion soup broth. The other packages will make nice companions to a sushi dinner down the line.
My first impression of this yuzu somen was not great. The description notes these noodles are dressed with a light, refreshing yuzu fragrance. Yuzu is a citrus fruit that somewhat resembles a cross between a grapefruit and a mandarin orange. Citrus instant noodles? This didn’t initially sound all that appetizing to me, but I forged ahead. Oh was I wrong! The yuzu fragrance was a really nice complement to the salty and savory nature of these noodles. Plus, the somen themselves were very enjoyable. They’re like tiny spaghetti instead of typical crinkly ramen. Though these noodles originally gave me the most pause, they certainly surprised me the most. The flower-shaped fish cakes, green onion, and bits of egg were also very nice touches. I would definitely grab these again should I encounter them in the wild.
Brown Rice Noodles
I was very excited to find these brown rice noodles in this month’s crate! I grab a bag of brown rice rotini any time I’m at Trader Joe’s, so to experience something similar in instant noodle form was very cool. I even added some bacon, spinach, and corn per the suggestions on the info sheet. It was a lovely meal! Throwing in the toppings was the nice game changer. The broth had a nice miso flavor and included some sesame seeds for crunch. Brown rice pastas always get my vote, and this one was no exception. Also, what a photogenic dish, right?
These delicate noodles—made from wheat flour—cooked up in three minutes. So quick! I appreciate that Umai Crate included the tarako udon sauce to accompany them, instead of leaving me to guess what I should do with them. It’s like receiving batteries with a new toy. This somen can be served either hot or cold. I opted to test them hot with the tarako udon sauce.
Tarako Udon Sauce
And here is the somen dressed in said sauce. This 3-pack has a flavorful soy base that, according to the info card, promises to leave a smile on my face. A combination of mentaiko (pollock roe) and cream, this dressing is a quick and easy way to enjoy a Japanese favorite. The flavor had more of a fish taste than I typically enjoy, so while this sauce did not exactly leave a smile on my face, I could see how it would appeal to someone that enjoys seafood more than myself.
Bonus Item – Instant Onigiri
One of my favorite things about being in Japan earlier this year was swinging by a convenience store—day or night—and grabbing a handful of onigiri as a quick, healthy snack and needed fuel for adventure. I didn’t think it would be possible to make at home, let alone in an instant sense. Well, as instant as a 15 minute cook time can be. If you ever try this, don’t forget to take out the “oxygen absorbing” packet that masquerades as a ramen soup base! As soon as I poured my hot water in the packet, I saw it floating around and immediately took it out. That could’ve been bad had I not! After 15 minutes, I cut along the lines to reveal a mostly triangular onigiri. The package design kept the shape largely intact. The rice had a nice, light seasoning, and the salmon flavor was pretty pronounced. I wouldn’t go for the salmon kind again, but perhaps a classic seaweed variety would be more my speed. Cool concept!
Verdict: There were some hits and misses with this month’s Umai Crate, but overall, I had a great time testing everything out. My favorites were the yuzu somen and the brown rice noodles. As for the least favorites, I wasn’t crazy about the tarako udon sauce or the instant onigiri, but that’s likely due to my disinterest in seafood. With an average cost of $3.75 per item—with some items containing multiple servings—I’d say it’s worth it for discovering some new instant noodles to try again later, and the knowledge of knowing which ones to forego next time I’m loose in an Asian grocery store.
To Wrap Up:
Can I still get this box if I sign up today? No, you will receive the November box.
Coupon – Use code MSA3 to save $3 off your first Japan Crate Premium, Doki Doki Crate, Umai Crate, or Kira Kira Crate
Value Breakdown: This box is $30 a month with free shipping. I received five instant noodle packages, one pack of banshunoito noodles, and a 3-pack of tarako udon sauce, which come to an average of $3.75 per item.
Check out all of the Umai Crate Reviews to get more information on this subscription. Check out all of our Food Subscription Boxes in the Subscription Box List. Rate, review, and follow this subscription on the Umai Crate profile page.
What was your favorite bowl from the October Umai Crate?