ZenPop Ramen + Sweets Mix Pack is a monthly subscription service from ZenMarket that sends popular and unique Japanese noodles and snacks handpicked by their staff in Japan.
This box was sent to us at no cost for review purposes. Check out the review processes post to learn more about how we review boxes!)
About ZenPop Ramen + Sweets Mix Pack
The Subscription Box: ZenPop Ramen + Sweets Mix Pack
The Cost: $24.50/one-time purchase (save with longer commitments)
The Products: 2-3 bowls of noodles, 6-10 Japanese sweets + snacks
Ships to: Worldwide for free!
ZenPop Ramen + Sweets Mix Pack February 2019 Review
Every box begins with a nice thank-you note from the creators, as well as a coupon!
Each box also features an info sheet that gives a short blurb of the snack’s origin, popularity, or relevance to the theme. The sheet also provides common allergy ingredients as well as special instructions for the best eating experience.
I’m so excited for the sweet and salty snack pairs~ let’s dig in!
Wan-tan Chicken Shio Ramen
Through this subscription, I’ve tried so many different special ramens—soups with bread chunks, meat chunks—but tiny dumplings? Yes, please!! A wonton is a very simple type of dumpling which filling differs from every maker. These ramen wontons are filled with a chicken “patty” and are delicious!
There are four main bases of Japanese ramen: shio (salt), shoyu (soy sauce), miso (soybean paste), or tonkotsu (pork broth). This ramen uses chicken broth for extra savoriness that complements the saltiness well.
It’s hard to replicate the freshly cooked, springy handmade noodles in instant ramen, but this bowl did extremely well. The yellow noodles were the perfect thickness and had a beautiful chewiness that I loved.
Cup Star Curry Udon – Buy a 6-pack for $35.99
Many ramens use a curry flavoring as well to substitute the rice with noodles! This cup used thick, flat noodles to mimic the thick udon noodles common in Japan.
The curry broth had a tiny kick of spice that was too small to excite me, and the noodles were too thick for my taste. They ended up being soggy too quickly and lost their elasticity, which I consider a big factor of ramen.
Imo Kenpi – Retail Value $2.99
Kenpi is a local food of the Kochi prefecture in Japan. They are strips of candied sweet potato that resemble French fries but have a distinct sugary sweet taste and a crunch. I love sweet potato—roasting Asian sweet potatoes are even better than chestnuts, especially when they’re soft and right out of the oven. These little strips are the best!
Calbee Grand Jagabee Salt and Truffle Flavor – Retail Value $2.20
I’m a truffle lover. It was love at first sight when I had it in my egg, and I fell more deeply when I discovered truffle oil. So, my opinion on these is quite biased 😉 Jagabee is Calbee’s line of potato sticks and chips. These snacks are thick potato slices with a nice salty coating and beautiful truffle flavor! I thought the truffle flavor really complemented the potato flavor (you must try roasted potatoes with rosemary and truffle oil, it’s to die for!)
Umaibo Teriyaki Burger Flavor – Retail Value $0.16
We get two umaibos (light corn snacks) this time! The salty version is flavored of a teriyaki burger, which is really popular in Japan. They even have it as a McDonald item there! I think the flavor coating of meat and the sweet sauce of teriyaki went well with the airy crunch of the umaibo. 10/10 for me!
Umaibo Sugar Rusk Flavor – Retail Value $0.16
The second umaibo is coated in a crispy, sugary layer. We’re familiar with rusk, as it appeared in January Bokksu this year! A rusk is a hard, dry biscuit or twice-baked bread, and maybe a baguette slice toasted to crunchiness. Rusks are usually covered in a sugar mixture or sometimes chocolate. This umaibo did well to replicate the same crunch of a rusk while including the sweetness and crunchy sugar coating—yum!
Butter Shoyu Chip Star – Retail Value $2.50
These chips are like an extra buttery, savory version of Pringles (sour cream and onion all the way, though). The shoyu, or soy sauce base, goes very well with the buttery flavor. Perfectly savory all the way!
Noir Black Cocoa – Retail Value $3.00
Noir is known for its soft sandwich cookies similar to Oreos with a darker, stronger cacao taste in the cookie portion. These snacks are tubes of crunchy, solid cream filling coated in a dark chocolate and cookie crumble mix. The inner portion was a bit much for me, but I loved the contrast of the sweetness of the middle and the bitter chocolate outside.
Calpis Soft Candy – Retail Value $2.50
Calpis is another iconic Japanese soda flavor, a milky white liquid that has a touch of yogurt to give a tart but sweet flavor. The three flavors included in this resealable snack bag are peach, original, and orange. The candies have a slightly crunchy shell and a very soft center. My favorite flavor was the original yogurt candy!
Verdict: A lot of subscriptions tend to go too much chocolate and candy for a Valentine’s theme, but I enjoyed and appreciated Zenpop’s inclusion of salty snacks to balance the sweet. Most of the items in the box were wins for me, especially the candied sweet potato strips and truffle chips! I estimated a total retail value of $24.51, which fits exactly the original box price.
To Wrap Up:
Can you still get this box if you sign up today? Unfortunately, you have to sign up by the last day of the month… but subscribe for the April box here!
Value Breakdown: For $24.50, you receive 2 bowls of ramen/soup and 7 sweets + snacks, so you’re paying about $2.72 per snack.
Keep track of your subscriptions: Add this box to your subscription list or wishlist!
What do you think of February’s ZenPop Ramen + Sweets Mix Pack? What’s your favorite sweet and savory item?