February 7, 2013

Meet The Manufacturer: Sun Noodle Interview

Welcome to another installment of Meet The Manufacturer! This time, it’s Sun Noodle – purveyor of fresh ramen noodles and other fine products. Here’s an interview I did with them via email.

THE RAMEN RATER> Thank you very much for agreeing to do this interview! Could we start off with some information about Sun Noodle; when was Sun Noodle founded, where and by who?

SUN NOODLE> Sun Noodle is a family-owned business which manufactures fresh noodles, gyoza (pot sticker) and wonton wrappers; as well as an importer and distributor of Japanese noodle soup bases and sauces.  The
company was founded in 1981 by Hidehito “Hide” Uki in Honolulu, Hawaii.  With the growing demand of Sun Noodle products in the mainland, Sun Noodle California was established in 2004, now located in Rancho
Dominguez, California; then Sun Noodle New Jersey (Teterboro, New Jersey) set foot in 2012 to meet the demands of the East Coast.

TRR> For those of my readers who are not familiar with your line of products, could you tell us a little about them?

SN> We produce a wide variety of noodle products for both food service markets and for retail markets.  First off, we have our assorted ramen(s):

  • Shoyu Ramen
  • Miso Ramen
  • Tonkotsu Ramen
  • Shio “Vegetable” Ramen
  • Tantanmen (“Spicy Sesame”)
  • Hiyashi Chuka (“Cold Ramen”)
  • Cold Ramen with Gomadare (Cold Ramen with Sesame Seed Sauce)

We produce other types of Japanese noodles as well:  Yakisoba, Udon, Nihon Soba (Buckwheat), Wakana Soba (Spinach), and Okinawa Soba.  The great thing about being in Hawaii is that it has opened Sun Noodle to many different types of cultures.  With that, we produce Chinese noodles as well as “local” noodles of Hawaii.  We have Chow Mein, Chow Fun (also known as Look Fun), Cake Noodle, and Saimin Noodles.

TRR> What is the story behind the name Sun Noodle?

SN> The meaning of the “Sun” in Sun Noodle is twofold.  Hidehito Uki was attending Hawaii Pacific College for about a year before starting up the noodle business.  He said that when he thinks about Hawaii, the first
thing that comes to mind is the sun (and the beautiful ocean, of course!).  The second meaning behind “Sun” is that the Sun as the center of the solar system is the most powerful of its kind.  Without it, many living
things cannot survive and Hide believes that the sun provides people with positive energy.  Like the sun, Sun Noodle strives to be the best at providing quality noodles, providing noodles to give people the same type of
positive energy.

TRR> Is Sun Noodle involved in the local community around you?

SN> Yes, we are involved in our local communities at all three locations:  Hawaii, California and in New Jersey.  Every year, we make charitable donations to non-profit organizations.  In Hawaii, we participate in
the annual Okinawan Festival, which strives to perpetuate the culture with the community of Hawaii.  We are also actively involved with the youth soccer community in Hawaii.  In California, Sun Noodle is involved with
various Japanese Festivals and other Japan related events such as the Summer Festival at the Mitsuwa Market and the Japanese Food and Sake Festival.  We recently started serving ramen at UC Santa Barbara and hold
ramen classes at our local cooking schools from time to time.  With the recent devastation of Hurricane Sandy, Sun Noodle New Jersey took part in an event with Chef Ivan Orkin to raise funds for the victims
affected by the hurricane.

TRR> How many miles of noodles would you estimate you produce a year?

SN> 600,600 miles of noodles.

TRR> Are there any new products that will be coming out soon that you could tell us about?

SN> For the professional use, we have some new frozen soup stocks and NO-MSG “tare,” sauce that enhances the flavor or body of the ramen broth.  The retail packs will be redesigned to be more appealing to the customer.

TRR> Can you tell us about the different varieties of noodles you produce and how they differ?

SN> Our main business is to manufacture different styles of ramen noodles tailored to the restaurants needs.  Besides ramen noodles, we also manufacture yakisoba, Okinawa soba, Japanese buckwheat soba, udon, and pasta.

TRR> A lot of people wonder about the health factors (sodium, etc) when it comes to instant noodles. How do you recommend people made instant noodles a healthy part of their diet?

SN> The key here is moderation.  Like all other types of food, it’s about consuming them in moderation – enjoy a bowl of ramen say once a week rather than…everyday.  Also, because some bowls of ramen have higher
levels of sodium, it’s important to balance that out by drinking lots of water.

TRR> Do you make/sell products other than noodles?

SN> Yes, we make gyoza or “pot sticker” wrappers and wonton wrappers and we also sell noodle soup bases and

TRR> What was your first product?

SN> Our first product was the ramen noodles

TRR> I initially found out about you via a mention on the trailer for the award-winning short film ‘Ramen Dreams‘  – can  you tell us about it and your involvement?

SN> Keizo of GO RAMEN! (www.goramen.com) is a good friend of ours and it is our goal to support anyone with a ramen dream.  ‘Ramen Dreams’ is a short documentary film about Keizo’s life to pursue his ultimate ramen
dream.  The film was featured at the NY Food Film Festival and we wanted to support him any way possible throughout the process.  The night of the Food Film Festival, we provided the ramen noodles to be served
after the film showing.

TRR> How does the process in which you make your noodles differ from other brands?

SN> Each company has their own secrets of making noodles. We take care of sourcing the best wheat flour, using artisanal techniques (water temp, flour temp, pressing the dough gradually, adjusting the thickness by
.1 mm for the customer) and doing the best we can to tailor make our ramen noodles for restaurants across the country.

TRR> When you make noodles for yourself, do you add anything or have any recommendations?

SN> Traditional toppings are great [“cha-shu” (sliced char siu), “menma” (bamboo shoots), “nori” (dried seaweed), etc.] but also using local ingredients available at your nearby supermarket is a great way to play
around with flavors.

TRR> Where can people find your products?

SN> You can find our products at most Asian supermarkets such as Uwajimaya, Nijiya Market and Mitsuwa Supermarket.  If you’d like more information on the accessibility of our products in your area, you can email
us at our website on www.sunnoodle.com.  We are more than happy to help you.

TRR> Thank you very much for this opportunity to learn more about Sun Noodle!

There you have it! My thanks to Hisae and Kenshiro Uki for making this happen and everyone else at Sun Noodle! Watch for a series of reviews of their products during the next weeks!

Interview * Product Samples From Sun Noodle * Sun Noodle Yakisoba Japanese Style Stir Fry Noodles With Powdered Sauce * Sun Noodle Ramen Pork Flavor * Sun Noodle Nama Soba Buckwheat Noodle * Sun Noodle Cold Ramen Soy Sauce Vinaigrette Sauce With Honey Apple Added * Sun Noodle Ramen Miso Flavor * Sun Noodle Tantanmen Spicy Sesame Flavor Ramen (Mild) * Sun Noodle Ramen Shoyu Flavor

Products cooked according to package instructions. Product reviews done prior to adding any additional ingredients.

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