DiG! Tested and Approved! Instant Meals From Japan: Top Six



DiG! Tested and Approved!
Instant Meals From Japan: Top Six "Just Add Water!" Instant Meals  



While instant ramen may be a staple in the diets of many university students, it's just one of the many types of Japan's "just add water!" variety of instant foods. Not only are they cheap, fast, and delicious, but they are also a good way to share the tastes of Japan with friends and family back home. Once again the DiGJAPAN! editorial staff put some of Japan's best known instant foods through a rigorous taste test to give you the inside scoop on which are the best!

A total of six of our staff participated in the taste test: Farng from Thailand, Iki from Taiwan, Yayu from China, Rachael from the U.S., Jeongyeon from South Korea, and Chiharu from Japan.

Our staff tries instant versions of Japan's "soul foods!"

While sushi might be one of Japan's most iconic meals abroad, dishes like oyakodon, ochazuke, udon, and ramen come to mind as representative of some of Japan's favorite "soul foods." But how do the "just add water" instant versions of these classic meals stand up to the real thing? Our staff was determined to find out!

Japanese instant food taste test

Our staff examines the packages to make their selections. They wonder if the hard, freeze-dried foods inside will resemble the tasty-looking images on the covers once they add water…

Just add water to the cup noodles and you're done!

Just pour in the water, wait for a little bit, and voilà! Before you know it your meal is ready to eat! Our staff also recommends that you add additional toppings as you like. A little customization goes a long way.

There was noodles, rice, miso soup…

There was noodles, rice, miso soup… our staff had a full course meal all just by adding water! Many of the foods looked like the real thing.

The cup ramen is a winner!

"The texture of the noodles is good, and they go really well with the soup." -- Iki

Some of Japan's most popular ramen restaurants make their own brand of instant ramen, making it easy for you to take home a bowl of your favorite to enjoy later.

Freeze-dried oyakodon is surprisingly good!

Farng was impressed by how fluffy the scrambled eggs in the oyakodon were. The rest of our staff was likewise intrigued.

Just add hot water Japanese instant foods

The room was filled with the smell of various Japanese foods from the moment they added the water. Soon everyone was feeling pretty hungry. "That the food smells good is an important point, too." -- Rachael

Here are the DiGJAPAN! staff picks!

Here are the DiGJAPAN! staff picks!

Tonkotsu-flavored cup noodles from the ramen chain Ippudo!

Instant Tonkotsu Ramen Noodles from Ippudo Product name: Ippudo Akamaru Shinaji Hakata Tonkotsu | 一風堂 赤丸新味博多とんこつ
Manufacturer: Seven Gold
Average retail price: \278

About this product: The chain Ippudo has been drawing fans from around the world with its delicious Hakata-style tonkotsu ramen. Now they've produced an instant version of one of their most popular dishes, the akamaru shinaji! They've added their famous blend of Korean and Chinese spices as well as sesame oil to their original tonkotsu soup base.

Staff comment: Ippudo is famous in Taiwan, so I wanted to try the instant version. I was surprised at how close the flavor was to the ramen you get at their restaurants. I want to buy some of these for my friends who haven't eaten at Ippudo yet. -- Iki

You can't call it a meal without soup!

Instant Kyo-fuu Soup Udon (Sesame soy milk flavor)

Product name: Kyo-fuu Soup Udon (Sesame soy milk flavor) | 京風すうぷうどん ごま豆乳
Manufacturer: Nagatanien
Average retail price: \216

About this product: The aroma of sesame pairs well with the mild soy milk flavor, and the smooth noodles have a good texture. The soup stock has a savory-sweet flavor distinctive of Kyoto cuisine.  

Staff comment: The udon noodles pick up the flavor of the soup nicely, and the sesame aroma is outstanding. I think this would be a good meal when you want something simple after having eaten out a lot. -- Chiharu

Oyakodon with fluffy scrambled eggs!

Instant Oyakodon rice bowl

Product name: Chiisame Donburi Oyakodon| 小さめどんぶり 親子丼
Manufacturer: Amano Foods
Average retail price: \250

About this product: Just stir for thirty seconds after adding hot water to the freeze-dried block of oyakodon, put the mix on top of some rice, and tada! You've got yourself a meal! You can taste all the savory-sweetness of authentic oyakodon as you enjoy pieces of chicken and scrambled eggs. It's a little surprising, but it's very close to the real thing!

Staff comment: There aren't a lot of instant food products like this yet in Thailand, but Thai people love rice so this seems like it'd be a big hit! You adjust the volume of your meal by adding more rice. The chicken is really tender, too. I almost can't believe you can make this just by adding hot water! -- Farng

Tender, flame-roasted crab in an instant meal??

Amano Foods Aburigani Zousui Product name: Aburigani Zousui | 炙りかに雑炊
Manufacturer: Amano Foods
Average retail price: \160

About this product: Zousui is a rice-based porridge. In this instant version, you can enjoy pieces of flame roasted crab and the flavor of vegetable and seafood soup stock in this hearty porridge made with domestically produced Japanese rice.  

Staff comment: I love crab, so this porridge is perfect for me. The soup stock gives it a really excellent flavor. All you have to do is add water, so I feel that this would be a good souvenir for people who love the taste of rice but are too busy to make it. -- Yayu

An authentic Japanese meal in a small package!

Instant Sake Chazuke

Product name: Sake Chazuke (Package of 6) | さけ茶づけ 6袋入
Manufacturer: Nagatanien
Average retail price: \257

About this product: Thanks to Nagatanien's original method of freeze drying foods, you can enjoy the taste of salmon, nori seaweed, and other delicious ingredients for a truly Japanese meal anytime. Just pour the contents of the package on top of some rice, add hot water (or hot green tea!), and enjoy!

Staff comment: The natural savoriness of the salmon makes for a well balanced soup. It's a simple meal, but very satisfying. -- Rachael

Enjoy rich three-cheese pasta instantly!

Instant Cream sauce spiral pasta Product name: Mitsu Hoshi Kitchen 3 Shu No Cheese No Cream Pasta | 三ツ星キッチン 3種のチーズのクリームパスタ
Manufacturer: Amano Foods
Average retail price: \200

About this product: Spiral shaped pasta, bacon, and mushrooms are covered with a rich cream sauce made with three cheeses: parmesan, gorgonzola, and gouda. Perfect when you need a quick fix of Italian food.

Staff comment: I didn't expect that an instant food product would have such a rich flavor, let alone use a blend of three cheeses. I'm probably going to pick some more up for myself later. -- Jeongyeon 


What do you think of our staff's choices this time? We hope that you'll enjoy these selections as much as our staff did.

When you have a craving for some Japanese soul food fast, these instant meals are there for you to enjoy. Pick some up as a souvenir!


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