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Meet The Manufacturer: Interview With Olagafood

Olagafood Meet The Manufacturer: Interview With Olagafood - Alhami Mikka Maitri - The Ramen Rater - instant noodles

Interview With Olagafood * Product Samples From Olagafood (1 of 2) * Product Samples From Olagafood (2 of 2) *  Alhami Mi Instan Mi Goreng SpesialMaitri Vegetarian Rasa SotoMikka Noodle Snack Sambal Balado Chilli Sauce FlavourMaitri Vegetarian Hot Curry FlavorAlhami Instant Noodle Prawn FlavourMikka Noodle Snack Roasted Corn FlavourMaitri Vegetarian Extra Hot Mie GorengMikka Noodle Snack Barbeque FlavourAlhami Instant Noodle Beef FlavourAlhami Instant Noodles Chicken Curry FlavorMaitri Vegetarian Mie GorengAlhami Instant Noodle Chicken Curry FlavorAlhami Instant Noodle Soto FlavorMaitri Instant Noodle Vegetarian Soup FlavorAlhami Instant Noodle Chicken Flavor

Months back, I contacted Olagafood as I was very curious about their product line and wanted to try and do a Meet Thre Manufacturer series with them. I got an affirmative response and here today we start the series. Olagafood is located in Indonesia, a country where I have difficulty procuring new products and varieties from.

I’m also excited that Waroeng Jajanan, a local Indonesian restaurant, and shop will be sponsoring this series with food that will be used to garnish these varieties! Thank you!

Alright, lets get started with the series with an interview with Mikka Law, Vice Director at  Olagafood.

Interview With Olagafood – Indonesia

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

OLAGAFOOD> Olagafood has been in food and beverages business for 20 years now. It was started in a Medan city in North Sumatra, Indonesia. We have grown to establish 2 more factories in Jakarta and Surabaya as well. Our market is mainly in Indonesia, and we have expanded to 24 countries around the world. Our philosophy since the beginning is to produce products with high quality and healthy ingredients with an affordable price.

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

OLAGAFOOD> Our flagship product is Instant Noodle, and we are actually the only company that produces Vegan/Vegetarian Instant Noodle in Indonesia. Also, now we produce ready-to-drink beverages in PET bottles and snacks as well.

TRR> I’m wondering what does Olagafood mean?

OLAGAFOOD> The word “Olaga” actually comes from “Olahraga,” which means Fitness in Indonesian/Bahasa language. We want to portray ourselves as healthy food and beverages company.

TRR> There’s some pretty serious competition in the Indonesian instant noodle market it seems – what makes your products different than others?

OLAGAFOOD> We believe our main difference is we aim to manufacture with better ingredients, non-preservatives, less MSG, less sodium and other highly-known “bad” ingredients in instant food products, but without sacrificing the taste by replacing them with other more natural ingredients. Our product “MAITRI” is pure vegan and vegetarian which is the one and only in Indonesia. It serves a niche market of vegetarians in Indonesia and the world, but so far it remains popular among the vegetarian and non-vegetarian due to its quality.

TRR> Any plans for an instant noodle plant in the United States or elsewhere in the world?

OLAGAFOOD> We have not plan to have a facility outside Indonesia yet, but there is, of course, an opportunity to invest in a new plant outside. The closest that we are seeking to invest in is in the Africa region. We see lots of opportunity lying there. So far we have been exporting to Africa for quite some time. We believe when the time is right, we will make the move.

TRR> Are involved in the local community around you?

OLAGAFOOD> Yes, we are actually a family business that is also community-based. Beyond the company perks such as health insurance and other benefits, we support our workers in their education, their children’s education with scholarship program and also their Islamic pilgrimage to Mecca. We are also building infrastructure to support their living; such as houses around the factories, building roads around the neighborhood, building a mosque and supporting the city government where we are doing business in.

TRR>How many packs, cups, and bowls of instant noodles do you make in a year?

OLAGAFOOD> We produce roughly 18 million cartons per year and 50 million bottles of beverages each year.

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

OLAGAFOOD> Yes, we keep developing new products and hope it will come out soon. We can only give you some sneak peek, we are targeting a new set of the market with higher-end instant noodle. It will be something bigger, much spicier, and better! We are also coming out with more snack products soon. We will surely send you some when they are ready.

TRR> The varieties of food in Indonesia are amazing – how do you integrate these flavors into your products?

OLAGAFOOD> True, Indonesia has some amazing varieties of food. We do incorporate some of the flavors into our recipes such as Soto flavor and Rendang flavor.

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?

OLAGAFOOD> From the manufacturer’s perspective, we believe that instant noodle is just the same as other processed foods available in the market. It is just that instant noodles in Indonesia are seen as a staple food to replace rice dishes, which we think is not right. Any other processed foods that are consumed on a daily basis will not be beneficial for the body. Talking about sodium, it contains a tolerable amount of it, but it is not as high as processed meat’s sodium, however, instant noodle still should not be used as a replacement of rice, meat, and vegetables. Eating instant noodle as an afternoon “snack” every once in a while, will not affect our body as much.

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

OLAGAFOOD> Yes, we have beverages products such as orange juice which we imported the orange pulp from Florida, USA. We also have tea beverages in ready-to-drink PET bottles. They come in many different flavors such as Apple, Lychee, Peach, Honey Lemon, Mango, etc. Another line of products that we just recently launched is Snack noodle, they are children’s snacks with different types of seasonings.

TRR> What was your first product?

OLAGAFOOD> Our first product is INSTANT NOODLE; the brand name is ALHAMI.

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

OLAGAFOOD> We usually cook a pack of instant noodle with its seasoning plus an egg, green vegetables, and slices of chilies. Instant Noodle itself already contains vitamins but we suggest to add egg and vegetables to make it more complete and nutritious as a meal.

THE RAMEN RATER> Thank you very much for this opportunity for me and my readers to learn more about Olagafood!

Alright – thank you very much to Mikka and Davin at Olagafood and Jonathan at Waroeng Jajanan! Let’s get this series started!

Rematch: The Story Of The 18 Prohibited Fire Noodle Challenge

Rematch: The Story Of The 18 Prohibited Fire Noodle Challenge

So in late August 2017, a fellow named Jay from Taiwan told me about a very spicy noodle I should try. I had recently put out the new Top Ten Spiciest Instant Noodles Of All Time for 2017 and was definitely keen on trying anything and everything spicy of course to begin the search for newcomers for the 2018 list.

Rematch: The Story Of The 18 Prohibited Fire Noodle Challenge

18 Prohibited: The Initial Burn

On September 1st, I gave it a go. My experience with anything spicy in the instant noodle realm hailing from Japan was always one of disappointment. Well, I shouldn’t say disappointment – the dishes usually were very tasty, but the heat level just wasn’t very strong at all. What’s more, the package called for 700ml of water to cook the noodles in – one of the highest amount I’ve ever seen for a single serving of noodles. So, thinking it would be a nice one for clearing my sinuses while I had the flu, I delved into it.

As you can see, it was spicy. Real spicy. I figured ‘hey, maybe this is because I have the flu – maybe I can try it again and it won’t hit me as hard.’ The only problem was that I didn’t have access to another one of these packs easily. a guy named Jonathan from Chicago stepped up to the plate – he had a couple extra and shot one my way.

It sat behind my monitor for a few weeks, awaiting its day of glory. I wanted to do it at the right time in order to give it the full attention it deserved.

Training Day 1

I thought maybe I should ‘train’ for this. My plan was to try three fiery varieties in the three days leading up to Friday the 13th in October 2017. First I saw this one on sale in 99 Ranch Market – JML Spicy Hot Beef from China. It was on the inaugural Top Ten Spicy list and I thought that it would definitely be a good one since it had a lot of broth and really burned me up the first time I’d tried it. Well, I really had no problem with this one.

Rematch: The Story Of The 18 Prohibited Fire Noodle Challenge

JML Artificial Spicy Hot Beef Flavour Instant Noodles (get it here)

Training Day 2

Next up on the 11th of October was the original Fire Noodle Challenge – the Samyang Foods Buldak Bokkeummyun. Definitely a spicy sucker – it packs the heat. This one doesn’t have a broth with it (despite the myriad of videos I’ve seen of people preparing it incorrectly) and after scarfing it down in under two minutes, it still packed a serious heat that had the inside of my mouth throbbing.Definitely easier to handle than the first time I’d tried it, for sure.

Rematch: The Story Of The 18 Prohibited Fire Noodle Challenge

Samyang Foods Buldak Bokkeummyun (get it here)

Training Day 3

Finally, the day before I decided to go with the one I’d put at the top of the 2017 Spiciest list – Samyang Foods’ 2x Spicy Haek Buldak Bokkeummyun. This one is known as the Nuclear Fire Noodle Challenge and it’s certainly not one that I’ve had an easy time with in the past. However, I thought that in addition to eating it fast (I did it in 1 minute, 41 seconds) I would try to do it without reacting to it – no ‘oooh’ or strained facial expressions. The only one I had was when I realized that I hadn’t had anything to drink before the attempt. You see, when I eat a lot of something dry, I almost always get the hiccups – this has happened in quite a few videos and I’ve learned to chug down something beforehand. Well, I forgot. Luckily, I didn’t get the hiccups and was kind of surprised I was able to handle it so easily this time around. In fact, the original fire noodle seemed stronger on the previous day – perhaps my theory of tolerance was working and my dream of conquering the 18 Prohibited would be a reality on the following day.

Rematch: The Story Of The 18 Prohibited Fire Noodle Challenge

Samyang Foods 2x Spicy Buldak Bokkeummyun Nuclear Fire Noodle (get them here)

18 Prohibited: The Rematch

So Friday the 13th came. It was a pretty dark and dreary day with some sun breaks. My daughter Miriam was pretty happy – she had a full belly, had her Yo Gabba Gabba playing; the stage was set and I was ready to go. So I cooked up the 18 Prohibited and set forth to conquer the beast – conquer Shai-hulud (yep – Dune reference). Reading further will bring spoilers so watch the video first.

 

So I had the bowl of 18 Prohibited in front of me. The noodles were very hot but had sat under a fan for a little bit and so I was hoping they’d cooked down somewhat. Personally, I was kind of hoping their physical temperature would be about room temp because boiling hot edibles just aren’t my thing. My mom can drink practically boiling hot coffee but I didn’t receive that genetic gift.

I felt confident I could do this; I’d trained. I also have experience with spicy stuff for years. In fact, many of you don’t know, but after about 60 reviews between 2002 and 2003 or so, I switched to hot sauce. Saucerater was borne out of necessity. I was on the Atkins Diet back then and it was very restrictive of carbohydrates, something instant noodles are full of but spicy sauces are not.

So, it was time. I took my first bite. Definitely had the taste of fiery peppers – Jonathan informed me that he saw something mentioning the Bhut Jolokia or ‘Ghost Pepper’ and that 18 Prohibited was full of it. I’ve always found that habanero pepper has a kind of funky – almost chemical taste to them. This was no different. I got the initial kick of spiciness and kept going. Bite after bite, the heat climbed. I thought perhaps that if I just keep shoveling this awful stuff into my pie hole that it would level out and then I could chug down the broth and be done with it.

As the noodles became less and less, they seemed to be more broth covered; wetter. I never got so far as to actually slurp the soup. I was conquered. Beaten. I had failed. About three minutes in I threw in the towel (or napkin as it were) and declared it the spiciest instant noodle I’ve ever had. Samyang Foods’ 2x Spicy was just violently spicy stuff, but this took it to a completely new level. My mouth was on fire – and once again, my gut was wrenched in a kind of death struggle. It definitely was not happy. I ran to the kitchen to snag a little chunk of brownie we had and chugged a ton of liquid. Usually, I can hold my own and let the fire finally fizzle out, but this time I did have that urgent need to drink something.

The heat lasted for about 45 minutes and then my lips were just numb for about another 15 minutes. I sent my wife Kit a picture – she said they looked puffy and swollen. This was Friday the 13th and I made the attempt to eat a nightmare.

Rematch: The Story Of The 18 Prohibited Fire Noodle Challenge

18 Prohibited (Get them here)

In the hours afterward, my gut wrenched a bit a couple of times but eventually stopped. As a kind of parting gift from the whole experience, I noticed I had a slightly sore throat about 2 or so hours afterward. I’m writing this post at 6 am on the 14th and I’m sick. Sneezing, watery eyes, loads of snot. My son had a runny nose for the past couple of days so I guess the universe decided it was time for me to get a cold.

Despite being knocked down by a package of noodles from Japan, this was a really fun little journey. Honestly, I never expected something from Japan to be on the spicy list – definitely will be next year. I will again say as I did with the 2x Spicy that I don’t think there will ever be anything spicier than this one but I certainly ended up being wrong the last time I said that. I will say this – the 2x Spicy tastes leaps and bounds better than this one does. This one will get zero stars; it’s just foul and horrific. A perfect one to try leading up to Halloween.