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About Umai Crate
The Subscription Box: Umai Crate
The Cost: $30 a month + free shipping. Save with longer subscriptions.
ACTIVE DEAL: Save $3 off your first box
The Products: 8-10 Japanese-exclusive instant noodle dishes + a culinary bonus item.
Ships: Worldwide for free!
Umai Crate January 2020 Review
The Umai Crate booklet lists each of the items with a quick description, cooking instructions, and recommended add-ins. The translations aren't always accurate, but they generally get the job done. This is super helpful to review before you get started and while you're tasting everything. There is also a recipe card for baked somen gratin.
If you're down for some sodium-rich content, grab a glass of water and let's get into it.
Small Shrimp Tenri Soba
I've had shrimp-forward noodles before and I've found the shrimp pieces to be microscopic, sharp, and almost exclusively shell. These weren't so bad! The broth was a deep, standard soba broth and the soft-boiled egg I added made these noodles particularly filling. A sprinkling of my own fresh scallions complemented the rest of the flavors nicely. As for the shrimp pieces, they had a soft tempura coating and weren't all that pointy.
Tanuki Oyaji Tonkotsu Ramen
These noodles have made an appearance in Umai Crate several times, and they're pretty solid, so I don't mind seeing a familiar face. The cabbage and carrots brought a welcome vegetable presence, while my additions of a seasoned soft-boiled egg and some more fresh scallions made this a tasty, reliable treat. The portion size was pretty generous as well.
Oftentimes, Umai Crate will send items you can eat as-is without any additional ingredients. This was not one of those items. The packet contained one portion of glass noodles and a gochujang chili paste, so the door to creativity was wide open! I sauteed a white onion, stirred in the sauce, added the noodles and some kimchi I had in the fridge with a little bit of water, and let everything simmer for 3-4 minutes. As you can see, I served it with yet another seasoned egg and some scallions. This dish was wonderful! It could have been especially filling with some sliced pork and shredded carrots. I'd love to find this item while I'm out and about so I can keep it in the pantry for a quick but interesting meal.
Kumamoto Spicy Ramen
I think these are a repeat as well, which is a-okay with me because they're one of my favorites! Complete with a cloudy broth and a little bit of chili oil, this ramen was savory and spicy in a well-balanced way. I opted for a seasoned egg, mushrooms, onions, and spinach to make a filling and incredibly delicious meal. So good.
Spinach Vegetable Somen
I have an undying love for green foods, especially spinach. This somen is made with spinach flour, so count me in! You know what goes well with spinach noodles? More spinach. I boiled these for 2 minutes and mixed them with the soba soup reviewed below, some mushrooms, another seasoned egg, and lots of fresh spinach which you can see in the gallery below. The noodles tasted like most of this type usually do, though the pack was definitely a 2-serving deal. The yield was huge for one person! Did I still manage to eat it all? You betcha.
I have quite the stockpile of soup bases from this subscription (hah, get it?). This soba soup consists of a rich dashi stock made with dried fish and soy sauce—pretty standard stuff. It was included in this month's delivery to pair with the spinach somen. Though it smelled pretty fishy straight out of the pack, it transformed into a deep, classic broth upon contact with hot water. I'll definitely make use of the six generous servings this box provides.
Another noodle pack! This vermicelli is commonly used in sukiyaki but could be used for all kinds of things: soup, stir fry, hot pot, etc. They'll cook up quickly in 4 minutes, too. I didn't have an immediate use for these, but I'll probably use them for a veggie stir fry, or in a soup with one of the many stocks I've accumulated.
Bonus Item: Nori Ochazuke (with One Piece card)
I wasn't entirely sure what this was when it arrived and the info card didn't provide much clarity until I opened the package. Inside, there were four colorful paper packets of rice seasoning. I've received items like this in past boxes. You cook 1/2 cup of rice, add the seasoning to the top, then pour over 3/4 cups of water and voila, a soup-adjacent rice snack. Once I poured in the hot water, it smelled exactly like the beach which wasn't the most appetizing, but scent aside, this made for a deliciously salty treat. Also, I'm not the biggest One Piece fan, but I thought the inclusion of the card was cool.
Verdict: This month’s Umai Crate was pretty enjoyable! Though it offered slightly fewer items than usual, I enjoyed what I ate and will certainly use the vermicelli sooner than later. Noodles don't last long in my house. I was most fond of the kumamoto spicy ramen and the kimchi vermicelli. I will say the average cost of $4.28 per item felt steep this month, but I do see value in the uniqueness, exclusivity, and multiple servings. Hopefully next month will come through with a few extra items to better justify the cost!
To Wrap Up:
Can I still get this box if I sign up today? No, you will receive the February box. Japan Crate will oftentimes add items from previous boxes to their online store, so if any of these really jump out at you, check there if you'd like to make any individual purchases.
ACTIVE DEAL: Save $3 off your first box
Value Breakdown: This box is $30 a month with free shipping. I received 7 items (not counting the bonus item) which comes to an average of $4.28 per item. That's slightly higher than previous months, but considering the unique curation and how well I liked everything, I can't say I mind.
Keep Track of Your Subscriptions: Add this box to your subscription list or wishlist!
What was your favorite bowl from the January Umai Crate? Do you have any go-to add-ins for instant noodles?