April 30, 2014

Meet The Manufacturer: Interview With Takamori Kosan

Interview With Takamori Kosan * Product Samples From Takamori Kosan * Takamori Tomato Spaghetti Napolitan * Takamori Katsuo Dashi Udon * Takamori Yaki-Udon Mild Spicy Sauce * Takamori Yakisoba * Takamori Shio Yakisoba * Takamori Chanpon * Takamori Curry Udon * Takamori Hiyashi Chuka Lemon Sauce * Takamori Futomen Yakisoba * Takamori Hiyashi Udon Bonito Sauce * Takamori Yaki-Udon Roast Soy Sauce * Takamori Sukiyaki Style Noodle Stew * Takamori Red Pepper & Garlic Peperoncino

A couple months ago, I hadn’t heard about Takamori Kosan. A co-worker of my wife’s went to Hawaii and brought back some yakisoba for me that wasn’t on my big list. They were Takamori Kosan, and I found the company online and sent an email. I received a friendly reply from General Manager HYuji Hashimoto, who was interested in taking part in Meet The Manufacturer. Here is the interview I conducted with him.

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

TAKAMORI KOSAN> Founded in 1961 in Arao, Kumamoto by Takamori Family.

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

TK> We have 3 major product lines. Long Life fresh noodle (Udon, Yakisoba, Champon, Soft Spaghetti) is our primary products. We also produce TOKOROTEN (Agar jelly noodle) and diet jelly stuff.

TRR> What is the story behind the name?

TK> Takamori is the family name of the founder.

TRR> Is Takamori Kosan involved in the local community around you?

TK> Yes, we support the local event by providing our products.

TRR> Why do you think ramen is such a popular food?

TK> Ramen is well adapted to regional flavor. Each component, noodle, broth and toppings are very unique by region. Then, people can try various flavor and more importantly, at the reasonable price.

TRR> You are located in Kumamoto, Japan. Can you tell us about what it is like there?

TK> Kumamoto is not a major city like Tokyo, with 1.8Million population. Still have a beautiful natural resources are reserved. It is famous for agricultural products and with great water from underground. Weather is pretty mild and rare to have snow. I would say Washington State is somewhat similar image to me, not too big and have rich nature.

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

TK> We just through the major products renewal across our long selling products, which is so far well accepted. We are shipping them Hong Kong for export. We are also about to release the international version of UDON and YAKISOBA with full English text and meet all US FDA regulations.

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

TK> We cover major noodle category except for Ramen and Soba. We make variation with soup/sauce part, for example, we have 3 Yakisoba series with different flavor, spicy, mild and seafood. For Udon, hot broth, chilled dip style, and stir fry. Our soft spaghetti, we are marketing this over 45 years, are our flag ship line. Tomato, Tarako and Peperonccino are very popular items in Japan.

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?

TK> Any food regardless instant or not, should be taken with balance. We recommend adding vegetables, eggs and other to balance the nutrition. Japanese way of saying “HARA HACHIBU” means “80% full” is recommended.

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

TK> Yes, we do. TOKOROTEN (Agar Noodle) and Agar Jelly dessert products are other steam of our business. Our Agar jelly is very low calories targeted to diet purpose.

TRR> What was your first product?

TK> According to our record, tomato soft spaghetti is the oldest product among existing products today. It is 47 years old.

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

TK> Long life noodle is our key feature. There are not so many long life noodle supplier in Japan left, probably around 10 companies. Long life noodle is cost effective in room temperature logistics, storage and longer shelf life at the store.  Also our strategy is to focus on lower price range. We focus on the best mix of price and taste.

TRR> Where are your products available?

TK> Mostly, western part of Japan. We are shipping to Hong Kong, 759Stores and used to ship to the US, but the US shipment is now down as we obsoleted the product. Newer version will be ready in May 2014.

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

TK> For Udon, I like to add fresh egg and hot pepper. Other fry noodle, any vegetables left in the refrigerator at the time!  Japanese noodles are very flexible to match with various things, except for cheese to UDON broth … Try your favorite!

TRR> Thank you very much for this opportunity to learn more about Takamori Kosan!

What a great interview! Let’s see what kind of delicious noodles Takamori Kosan manufactures! Thanks to Yuji for continuing to answer my questions – the packages are most in Japanese and he’s been really helpful!

Interview With Takamori Kosan * Product Samples From Takamori Kosan * Takamori Tomato Spaghetti Napolitan * Takamori Katsuo Dashi Udon * Takamori Yaki-Udon Mild Spicy Sauce * Takamori Yakisoba * Takamori Shio Yakisoba * Takamori Chanpon * Takamori Curry Udon * Takamori Hiyashi Chuka Lemon Sauce * Takamori Futomen Yakisoba * Takamori Hiyashi Udon Bonito Sauce * Takamori Yaki-Udon Roast Soy Sauce * Takamori Sukiyaki Style Noodle Stew * Takamori Red Pepper & Garlic Peperoncino

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

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