Interview With Vite Ramen * Product Samples From Vite Ramen (1 of 2) * Product Samples From Vite Ramen (2 of 2) * Vite Ramen Vegan Mushroom Shio * Vite Ramen Garlic Pork * Vite Ramen Soy Sauce Chicken
I remember seeing an article in my news feeds about Vite Ramen and their Kickstarter campaign a while back. I thought it sounded interesting; a really healthy instant noodle product that is completely different from anything I’d heard of up to this point. I reached out to the company and they were very interested in talking. Well, now we have a Meet The Manufacturer series! I should note that when I did these review, it was a while back. A lot of R&D went on and it sounds like they’ve got flavors more refined. I’ll be trying them again soon, but these should be noted are prototypes. Here’s my interview with Tim Tom Zheng. founders of Vite Ramen.
THE RAMEN RATER> Thank you for agreeing to this interview! To start, can you tell my readers about the history of Vite Ramen?
VITE RAMEN> We came up with the idea two years ago in college, when Tim was subsisting off a majority instant noodle diet (although with great variety, thanks to your reviews!), and I was plowing through finals on a 100% Soylent diet (the meal replacement shake, not the people). After some weeks of our respective diets, we were looking a little into each other’s plates: Tim was feeling the bloating and lethargy that came with the sodium and low nutritional content of the noodles, and my mouth was watering and seriously craving some savory, solid food.
We looked looked online and couldn’t find any instant noodles that satisfied all our requirements. Tim was a culinary school/Michelin Star trained cook, and I was finishing up my clinical nutrition degree, so we decided hey, why not take a shot at it ourselves?
The first year was spent iterating recipe after recipe in our tiny apartment kitchen; balancing taste, texture and macronutrients. We did a lot of reading into heat degradation of vitamins and dozens (hundreds?) of iterations of our soup and noodles. After the recipe was nearly finalized, we made the big leap to rent out a facility, spruce it up, and invest into our instant ramen making machines!
Since then we’ve run a Kickstarter that’s exceeded all our expectations, garnering 60,000+ packets of preorders! As of writing, we’ve finalized our purchase orders and have begun production of the final noodles!
TRR> Why the name Vite Ramen?
VITE RAMEN> Tim came up with the name; it sounds like an abbreviation of “vitamin”, and the root “vit” from Latin means “life” or “living”– In fact, that’s why vitamins have “vit” in the beginning of the word. So basically a play on “Vitamin Ramen”!
TRR> What was the first product you produced?
VITE RAMEN> Vite Ramen is our first product. It’ll be great to expand to other things in the future, but right now noodles are our game!
TRR> Your products definitely lean towards those looking for a healthier ramen option – what is different about your products compared to a standard instant?
VITE RAMEN> We started by adding the things that we thought were missing from most instant ramen: protein, fiber, and vitamins. We also took out the things we didn’t want: the deep frying, high sodium, and artificial preservatives. Our ramen has 25% DV (or more!) of every single vitamin and mineral your body needs, with at least 27 grams of complete protein per packet, 7 grams of fiber and minus all the junk in standard instant ramen!
TRR> Your company is located in the United States. Can you tell us a little about your locale?
VITE RAMEN> We’re currently stationed in Davis, California, with our manufacturing facility in Vacaville a couple towns away. Davis is a cute little college town with just about anything you’d need (read: good food), and Vacaville’s a bigger city with a mix of industrial areas, outlets and suburbs. They’re both pretty great though!
TRR> Can you tell us about the varieties of noodles you make?
VITE RAMEN> We currently make 3 flavors: Garlic Pork, Vegan Mushroom Shio, and Soy Sauce Chicken! All three of them are nutritionally balanced, with slight variations due to the soup base, but they’re all pretty delicious! They’re inspired by the classic tonkotsu, shio and shoyu ramen types respectively, but with our own variations.
The noodles themselves are the same across all of our flavors; they’re a primarily a mix of quinoa, wheat flour, vital wheat gluten and kansui for a high protein noodle that retains the taste and texture of a classic instant noodle!
TRR> How many noodle products do you produce every year?
VITE RAMEN> It’s a fairly small operation right now, and our production is currently limited to a couple thousand a day. It sounds like a lot, but that’s barely enough to keep up with the Kickstarter orders! We’ve started the process of expanding the production capability though, so hopefully we’ll be able to punch that up by several magnitudes in a couple months!
TRR> How does your noodle making process differ from other instant noodle manufacturers?
VITE RAMEN> Whereas most other instant noodles use deep frying, steam, or air drying in order to dehydrate their noodles, we use microwave dehydration! It’s a much faster process which actually preserves more nutrients, since they’re not heated for as long. And don’t worry, microwaves work by essentially vibrating water molecules very quickly; it’s not harmful in any way! [Note to Hans: Insert link to American Cancer Society article about microwaves if you feel it’s needed – https://www.cancer.org/cancer/cancer-causes/radiation-exposure/radiofrequency-radiation.html]
We also make our noodles with traditional alkaline water (also known as kansui); the yellow color of our noodles comes from the dough reacting with the high pH, not food coloring!
TRR> Apart from noodles, are there other products you produce?
VITE RAMEN> Nope! We’re focusing on making our noods the best we can for now!
TRR> Can you suggest pairings for your products, like meats or vegetables?
VITE RAMEN> Chasu pork or pork belly and fresh green onion works wonderfully for the Garlic Pork, as well as extra roasted garlic if you really dislike vampires! The Vegan Mushroom Shio goes beautifully with roasted maitake mushrooms and bok choy, and the soy sauce chicken goes really well with an extra dash of sesame oil and thinly sliced leek!
TRR> A lot of people are concerned with their sodium intake. How would you recommend people enjoy your product as part of a healthy meal?
VITE RAMEN> We’re very aware that sodium is one of the primary sticking points of standard instant ramen; it’s one of the big reasons we try to limit intake ourselves! Because of that, we’ve made sure that none of our flavors exceed 25% DV sodium (575mg), in line with the other minerals. So if you’re not particularly sodium sensitive, there’s no need to worry!
TRR> Are you involved in in your local community or participate in charities?
VITE RAMEN> Once things settle down from Kickstarter, we’d love to be involved! We don’t have any specific plans yet but it’s absolutely something we want to do. If your readers have any ideas we’d love to hear them.
TRR> Are there any new products coming soon?
VITE RAMEN> We’re thinking of making a very spicy version (scorpion pepper anyone?) as one of the special editions coming up! We’re huge fans of superhot sauces ourselves, so it’d definitely be cool to do a collab with a local sauce maker!
TRR> In what countries are your products popular? Do people enjoy them differently in different places?
VITE RAMEN> We’re currently US only for the time being, but we’ve got a huge amount of support from Canada and the EU (especially Germany!) We’ve certainly heard of some creative ways that people are getting our noodles outside of the US, haha. We’re hoping to expand sooner than later to countries outside the US though!
TRR> When you make noodles for yourself, what do you like to add to them to make them extra special?
VITE RAMEN> Tim and I are both big fans of doing very simple, hearty dishes. One of our favorites is to boil off the noodles and add a bit of soy sauce, mirin, sesame oil, green onion and hot sauce to the dry noodles!
THE RAMEN RATER> Thank you very much for this opportunity to learn about Vite Ramen and your products!