Umai Crate Subscription Box Review + Coupon – December 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
The Products: 7-8 Japanese-exclusive instant noodle dish + a bonus collectible
Ships to: Worldwide
Umai Crate December 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 nabe hot pot.
Let’s get to noodling!
Shrimp Flavor Seafood Ramen
If you’ve read any of my previous reviews, you’ll know I’m not much of a seafood enthusiast. If you’re new here, you already get the gist. I wasn’t terribly excited to kick off this month’s box with a bowl of shrimp noodles, but alas, here we are. Honestly, even for a seafood weirdo like myself, this ramen wasn’t bad. The broth was light and savory with a slightly fishy finish (the shrimp gently makes itself known), and the noodles had the typical instant ramen bite to them. My boyfriend is really into seafood, and he claimed the flavor to be pretty mild, much like generic ramen.
Raw Miso Natto Soup Paste
Upon pouring 3/4 cups of hot water over the miso paste and the natto packet, my apartment filled with an odd, vinegary scent, almost like feet. It was pretty off-putting, especially for such a small bowl of the stuff. I wasn’t very excited to give this one a taste, let alone be stuck with two more servings of it and its pungent fragrance, but I forged ahead. The flavor itself wasn’t that bad. It was salty and mild like regular miso soup, but with some added umami. I’ve seen natto featured on a few “odd foods of the world” listicles before and had sort of forgotten about it. It’s soybeans fermented in a specific type of bacteria and is ultimately an acquired taste due to its heavy smell and slimy texture. All of that said, I think I’ll just stick to miso soup, sans natto. This wasn’t for me.
This udon was inspired by Japanese folklore. According to legend, fox spirits are particularly fond of a kind of fried, sliced tofu called aburaage, which is found in this udon, along with fish cakes and slices of seaweed. The noodles themselves were soft and creamy, while the broth was very savory. The tofu slices were a nice touch! Plus, the whole fox motif is so cute. I do love a theme and a cultural lesson.
Ginkakuro Gosho Vegetable Soy Sauce Ramen
This soy-based ramen was both traditional and tasty. I added corn and sliced carrots per the recommended add-ins, and they were great accompaniments. The noodles had a nice chew to them. Overall, very straightforward, and quite good!
This dish was deemed “a healthy take on yakisoba without the guilt,” which immediately had my attention—especially after the holidays. An easy-to-make stir-fry, these noodles quickly absorbed 3/4 cups of water. I stirred in the seasonings and sauce packet, and voila, yakisoba! I added some black and white sesame seeds for garnish. For whatever reason, the sauce packet made the noodles smell distinctly of ketchup, and the flavor was slightly sweet to match. The noodles also had a little bit of a kick to them. I wasn’t entirely in the mood for something sweet, so I sprinkled in some of the garlic powder from this month’s bonus item. Really, what can’t garlic powder fix? Having noodles without broth was a nice change of pace for this box, and I’m always happy when Umai Crate includes this kind of variety in their offerings.
Healthy Foods Miso Ramen
This miso ramen called for corn and green onions as pairings, and it was right in doing so. On its own, this dish was mild and not very flavorful outside of a light miso profile, but with the add-ins, it was instantly elevated. It was another healthy offering from Umai Crate, too! I dig it.
Miso Udon Soup
Employing plenty of red miso balanced by dried bonito (fish flake), this soup base was designed to be a hearty and filling meal when paired with this month’s banshu udon. Because the info card didn’t specify how much water was needed for a single serving of this soup base, I used the photo feature on Google Translate to figure it out. It’s about 1.5 cups for a single serving.
Hailing from the Banshu region of Japan, these udon noodles offer the natural salt of high-quality wheat raised in the climate. I boiled a bundle of them in the miso soup stock from above, and they were pretty tasty. The cooking instructions on the info card were also rather vague for these, not specifying how much water to cook them in, or for how long. The standard cook time for noodles of this variety is about 2-3 minutes, so after adding the miso soup stock to my boiling water, I tossed in the noodles and shook them occasionally to loosen them. After 3 minutes, they were nice and al dente, with a prevalent salt flavor as promised. I’m happy to have two more bundles left over to enjoy later!
Bonus Item: Garlic Powder
This is just an average shaker of garlic powder, but there are few dishes garlic powder can’t fix, so I happily welcomed it into my pantry.
Verdict: This month’s Umai Crate was a-okay. My favorite was definitely the kitsune ramen, and I was most amused by the sosu yakisoba. The miso natto soup my least favorite, but I still recommend it for the adventurous eater. With an average cost of $3.75 per item—with some items containing multiple servings and a bonus item—this box was once again worth it for me.
To Wrap Up:
Can I still get this box if I sign up today? No, you will receive the January 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, a 3-pack of miso natto soup, and a 3-pack of miso udon soup base, and a trio bundle of banshu ramen, which comes to an average of $3.75 per item.
Check out all of the Umai Crate Reviews to get more information on this subscription.
What was your favorite bowl from the December Umai Crate? Do you have any go-to add-ins for instant noodles?