Umai Crate Subscription Box Review + Coupon – July 2019


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Umai Crate by Japan Crate brings you Japanese-exclusive instant noodles. Each month, you’ll receive a variety of instant noodles, soups, and sauces to try, along with a culinary bonus item!

july 2019 umai crate with the top of the box open, revealing some of the contents

My Subscription Addiction paid for this box. (Check out the review process post to learn more about how we review boxes).

july 2019 umai crate all contents image

About Umai Crate

The Subscription Box: Umai Crate

The Cost: $30 a month + free shipping. Save with longer subscriptions.

The Products: 8-10 Japanese-exclusive instant noodle dishes + a culinary bonus item.

Ships to: Worldwide for free!

Umai Crate July 2019 Review

  • closed info booklet with a blue cover and an aquatic design

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  • open info booklet with user-generated noodle images shown

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  • opened info booklet with former 1/3 of contents shown

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  • opened info booklet with the latter 2/3 of the box contents showing

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  • back cover of the info booklet with an aquatic design

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  • udon croquettes recipe card with the dish depicted in the top left corner

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    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 udon croquettes—something I’ve never heard of, but couldn’t wait to try.

    If you’re down for some sodium-rich content, grab a glass of water and let’s get into it.

    • unopened cold tanuki udon package with a yellow design and fancy hiragana

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    • unopened cold tanuki udon packaging, shown from the bottom

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    • cooked cold tanuki udon

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      Cold Tanuki Udon

      Even if it’s 1,000 degrees outside, I’m still hungry for a hot bowl of noodles. Umai Crate curated several cold dishes this month, and while I respect the well-planned seasonality, I wasn’t entirely excited at first pass. Cold noodles haven’t always been my favorite, but trying new things and broadening horizons is the joy of subscription boxes, right? Anyway, now that I’m done eating up all these udon noodles, I can now eat my words for dessert. These were great! The packaging had one of those clever drains in them, so after the udon cooked for 5 minutes, I just poured the water right out of the top. I then mixed in the soy-based sauce, the chili seasoning, and some green onions I’ve been growing in my window. Lastly, I finished things off with a soft-boiled egg, some seaweed furikake, and the tempura bits included with the noodles. I appreciated the crunch, and the combination of savory, sweet, and spicy. So good.

      • unopened soba dappe pictured from the front

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      • unopened soba dappe pictured from the back

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      • cooked soba dappe

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        Soba Dappe

        Soba noodles, dashi-based soup, fried tofu, and seaweed—this one is pretty classic with no room for error. I’ve had soba like this quite a few times in the past, and while it’s a safe bet, I was hoping for something a little more interesting. To this, I added another soft boiled egg smothered in seaweed furikake and some more freshly-chopped green onions from my private window stock.

        • udon with yuzu pictured from the side, showing the bowl design

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        • udon with yuzu pictured from above, showing the bright green label design

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        • udon with yuzu lid showing the three-spouted drain

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        • cooked udon with yuzu

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          Udon with Yuzu

          These promised salmon (amongst kelp and soy sauce), and that didn’t thrill me. I’m not much of a salmon fan, though I find it far less offensive than tuna. Both remind me of canned cat food. And here I was just complaining about how I wish the soba was more interesting! Before any fish lovers come for me, I still ate them. They were delicious, so I’ll just go ahead and eat my words for dessert again. Instead of dehydrated salmon chunks brought to life again by hot water, they formed the adorable pink stars floating in the savory broth, which had a pleasant hint of citrusy yuzu zing. I had to heat the udon with hot water for 1 minute, drain the water from holes punched in the lid, add water again for whatever reason, and then stir in the seasoning packet. Why the double water method? I don’t know—I’m not one to challenge the directions, but it seemed pretty counterproductive. Still, these were surprisingly tasty.

          • cold lemon chinese noodles pictured from above, showing the bright blue packaging

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          • cold chinese lemon noodles pictured from above, showing the backside of the packaging

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          • cooked chinese lemon noodles

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            Cold Lemon Chinese Noodles

            According to the info card, ramen shops start to add hiyashi chuka to their menus in Japan during summertime, which is a fusion between ramen and salad. Interesting concept. This pack offers two servings, but didn’t separate the noodles into bundles like a lot of other 2-packs tend to do, and that’s all right. I boiled one self-designated bundle for 2 minutes, drained and rinsed it in cold water per the instructions, and mixed them together with the sauce packet. The noodles had a nice lemony color, but no lemon flavor. The sauce was definitely soy-based with a hint of sweetness—maybe that’s where the lemon was? I’m still not entirely sure. For toppings, I went with another soft boiled egg with seaweed furikake, spicy kimchi I picked up locally, and cooked spinach I hit with some spicy shichimi seasoning from the September box. Most of these weren’t suggested add-ins; in fact, they weren’t even close to the tomato, cucumber, and sliced pork that were recommended, but I did get the egg right. All in all, these cold noodles were tasty and refreshing, even with my unconventional toppings! I’m happy to have a second serving to enjoy again, perhaps with the proper accouterments.

            • cold ramen pictured as a laydown with vibrant blue packaging and a photo of the finished meal

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            • backside of the cold ramen packaging with illustrated instructions

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            • cooked cold ramen

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              Cold Ramen

              More cold noodles, coming right up. As you can see, I was pressed for time when whipping this together, so I didn’t pile on the toppings. The sesame and seaweed topping was still great, though! I didn’t mind eating this cold at all—in fact, I’m really starting to see how noodles can be refreshing. The sauce on the bottom of the bowl was just slightly different from the sauce from the noodles above, but it was still very good.

              • panto gazpacho pictured upright from the front displaying black packaging

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              • panto gazpacho photographed upright from the back

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              • panto gazpacho pictured next to a can of coke to show scale

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              • opened panto gazpacho

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                Panto Gazpacho

                What, more cold food, you say? Okay. Firstly, how adorable is this container? I’ve only ever seen a soup this small one other time in my life, and it was a can of hot corn chowder I purchased from a vending machine in Kyoto last spring. I tossed a can of Coke in the picture to give a sense of scale. It’s so small! This gazpacho can either be consumed on its own, or as a topping to pizza or noodles, so says the info booklet. I popped it in the fridge for awhile, peeled the seal off the top, and sipped it. The tomato base was an excellent support for the onion, green pepper, olive oil, and garlic, and a hint of lemon juice kept things fresh. Color me impressed! It was also easy to see how this would play well with noodles or pizza, despite being a touch on the thin side. The flavor more than makes up for the consistency, if you’re considering either alternative use.

                • kamatama udon soy sauce packaging pictured from the front

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                • kamatama udon soy sauce pictured from the back

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                  Kamatama Udon Soy Sauce

                  This sauce came with three packs, and I’m always pleased to receive things with multiple servings, especially if they’re delicious. This one was! It can be used either as a broth base for boiling eggs, daikon, and fish cakes, or as a sauce for udon. I used it as the latter, and it had a lot of depth and an excellent, yet unexpected spiciness. If I don’t quickly use the remaining two packets as udon sauce, I’ll see what happens with them as a soup base.

                  • bundles of udon packaged and pictured from the front

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                  • udon packaged and pictured from the back

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                  • udon pictured with kamatama soy sauce, an egg, and green onions

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                    Banshu Hoso Udon

                    These noodles also offer a trio of servings—hooray! They took a little less than two minutes to cook up, were a bit on the sticky side, and had that classic touch of salt that’s found in most udon. I enjoyed these alongside the sauce above, plus another egg with furikake and green onions.

                    • bonus item bonito flakes packaging, pictured from the front

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                    • bonus item bonito flakes packaging, pictured from the back

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                    • bonus item bonito flakes shown in five individual packages

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                    • bonus item bonito flakes shown in five individual packages with one flipped over to show the back

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                      Bonus Item – Katsuobushi

                      Bonito flakes are this month’s bonus item, which is historically hit or miss. The bonus item, that is, not so much the bonito. These are great to incorporate into soups or noodles as you’re cooking them to change up the flavor, or to use as a topping to vegetables or rice. Upon opening the packet, they smelled incredibly fishy, but the taste was much milder. I see many Japanese recipes that call for this ingredient and I never felt called to purchase them outright, so having 5 (!) packets is a real win, especially for the bonus item category.

                      VerdictThis month’s Umai Crate really surprised me! At first, I wasn’t too excited about all the cold dishes, but they really managed to change my attitude. The cold tanuki udon was my favorite, and after everything was all said and done, there wasn’t any particular item I disliked. Another month of zero duds! With an average cost of $3.75 per item, this box was worth it for me.

                      To Wrap Up:

                      Can I still get this box if I sign up today? No, you will receive the August box. 

                      Value Breakdown: This box is $30 a month with free shipping. I received six instant noodle packages, one soup, and one 3-pack of 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, plus see even more of our best food subscription boxes.

                      Keep Track of Your Subscriptions: Add this box to your subscription list or wishlist!

                      What was your favorite bowl from the July Umai Crate? Do you have any go-to add-ins for instant noodles?

                      How do subscribers rate Umai Crate?

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                      Written by Savannah Sprowls

                      Savannah Sprowls

                      Savannah spends her days testing the creative limits of an all-black wardrobe, rattling about years spent overseas, and whipping up carb-heavy meals at home. Degustabox was her first foray into the world of monthly subscription boxes, and she still gets wildly excited every time a package arrives.

                      Posted in Food & Drink Subscription Boxes, Subscription Box Reviews, Umai Crate Reviews| Tags: umai crate | 3 comments

                      3 Comments

                      1. Sometimes when making instant noodles my family will drain the water used to cook the noodles and do broth or new water (instead of immediately putting in the seasoning packet and eating it like that) because it helps get rid of some of the oil used to fry the noodles before packaging. Not sure why they’d ask that on udon though.
                        The bonus item looks great! I’m always on the lookout for bonito flakes

                      2. I would have loved this box. It’s my favorite one so far. I would have used everything in this box. I still have items from when I subbed at the beginning. I really wish I could get this July box. That gazpacho sounds really tasty and I’m very curious about it’s tiny size. I need to see it in person.

                        • I agree that I wish I could get this July box. It looks like a winner. I used to get the regular Japan Crate, but I just cannot justify the cost of what you get versus what it can cost in an Asian market…

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