Tag Archives: top 10

#1058: Meet The Manufacturer: A-Sha Dry Noodle Mandarin Noodle – Original Sauce

Here’s the last of the varieties that A-Sha sent. This has been a really interesting Meet The Manufacturer – I’ve immersed myself in Taiwan documentaries and listening to music from Taiwan and checking out the architecture. I really never knew anything to speak of about Taiwan, but I must say it looks like an amazing place! Today, I’ll try the original flavor – A-Sha told me it’s their most popular.

Here’s the back of the package (click to enlarge). I must say that is a short list of ingredients!

The noodle block.

Sauce packet.

You can see the little jewels of oil dancing atop the liquid.


Finished (click image to enlarge). Added bell pepper, sweet onion and beef that was sauteed in beef as well as a fried egg. These noodles have an excellent texture and chewiness I enjoyed. The flavoring was of soy and sesame. It is truly amazing how these few ingredients come together so well! 4.0 out of 5.0 stars. UPC bar code 4715635850314.

I thought I’d end things with some funky music from Taiwan. This is from 1978 and by Zou Juan Juan / 邹娟娟.

#1057: Meet The Manufacturer: A-Sha Dry Noodle Hakka Noodle – Spicy Sesame Oil Sauce

The A-Sha Meet The Manufacturer is winding down here is the next to last of the varieties I’ll be reviewing. Spicy and sesame – two words I like! Let’s check it out.

The back of the package (click image top enlarge).

The noodle block. These Hakka noodles are wide!

The seasoning sauce.

Has a sesame scent, reminiscent of peanut butter.

Finished (click image to enlarge). Added onion and beef that I sauteed and then added scrambled egg to with a little soy sauce on top. The noodles are thick, wide, chewy and delicious. The flavoring is a little oily and has a sesame flavor and a little heat to it. 3.5 out of 5.0 stars.

This is a documentary about a Hakka person named Lee Teng Hui (1923-), President of Republic of China (1988-2000) and the first popularly-elected president in Chinese history. 李登辉 (1923-), 中华民国总统 (1988-2000) 和中华历史上第一位民选总统.

#1056: Meet The Manufacturer: A-Sha Dry Noodle Mandarin Noodle – Onion Oil Sauce

As most of you have probably noticed, I like onions. I usually pick sweet onion since it tends to smell up the freezer a bit less as I get a ton of them, prep them, then put them in a freezer bag. One time I got some at a grocery that were simply called brown onions, and they stunk up the entire fridge! Looking forward to this one by A-Sha – onion oil flavor!

The back of the packaging (click image to enlarge).

The noodle block – Mandarin noodle this time.

As with all the others, we have a single packet of liquid seasoning.

Has an aroma of soy, sesame and onion.

Finished (click image to enlarge). Added beef, bell pepper and sweet onion that I sauteed with a little oil and sesame sauce. The noodles are exquisite in that they have a wonderful chew and just plain make me want more. The flavoring is top-notch in this one – a strong, sweet, onionny flavor with sesame and soy notes . Another masterpiece of simplicity. 5.0 out of 5.0 stars.

Here is a video I thought would be interesting – it’s all about how Taiwanese Spring Onion Candy is made!

#1055: Meet The Manufacturer: A-Sha Dry Noodle QQ Thin Noodle – BBQ Sauce

Today we’ve got the thinnest noodles I think I’ve seen in a pack. I was curious about the whole QQ thing so I looked it up and found this on Quora:

It’s a phrase mostly encountered in Taiwan that means “toothsome,” or “chewy.” It is similar to the Italian phrase, al dente. QQ is generally considered a desirable quality in Taiwanese cuisine, as it contributes to mouth feel.

It says on the back that these noodles should only be cooked for one and a half minutes. Interesting – let’s check this out!

The back of the package (click image to enlarge). This one contains fish called bream.

I must say these are the thinnest, wispiest noodles I’ve ever seen that are made from wheat.

The sauce packet.

Has a nice scent – I smell the soy sauce the most.

Finished (click image to enlarge). Added a fried egg, red bell pepper, sweet onion, Urashima Sesame & Salt furikake, and beef sauteed with a little garlic salt. These noodles are great! Very light and thin and honesty they seem to be happy. It’s a perfect balance of texture and delicateness. They definitely are wonderful to chew. The BBQ sauce? Well, this isn’t what most would think of when you say BBQ sauce – it’s not the 99 cents a bottle stuff at the local grocery store. Instead, it’s a very enjoyable and tasty flavor with nice depth. Soy sauce, garlic, a slight spiciness and other flavors are represented in a wonderful flavor that doesn’t have the usual American ‘slather’ BBQ sauce feel. This is excellent. 5.0 out of 5.0 stars.  UPC bar code 4715635850666.


A National Geographic Mega Cities special about Taipei.

#1054: Meet The Manufacturer: A-Sha No. 10 – Mandarin Noodle – Black Pepper Sauce

When I first opened the box of samples from A-Sha, I was immediately curious about this one. Big, blocky red type on a stark white background. I’ve been told this black pepper flavor is tradition of a dish served at ‘Night Markets’ in Taiwan. A steak with a black pepper sauce and an egg on the side – a very nostalgic Taiwanese classic (here’s what it looks like). Let’s have a look.

The back of the package (click image to enlarge).

This time we have Mandarin noodles. They are slightly thinner and flatter than the Hakka noodle.

Here’s the sauce packet. I thought it was neat how the No. 10 is actually transparent and the dark color is the sauce.

The sauce has a peppery scent.

Finished (click image to enlarge). Added a runny yolk fried egg, some beef I sauteed with soy sauce and a little Urashima Sesame & Salt furikake. The noodles are exemplary and absolutely flawless. The sauce was pretty good. I expected a stronger flavor with a richer taste, but it was lighter than I expected. I very much enjoyed all of the pepper! As you can see from the noodles, it is coating everything very well. This yet again was another very different instant variety for me. 3.75 out of 5.0 stars.UPC bar code 4715635851007.

This is a great video of what its like at a Taiwan Night Market. Here’s a more guided tour.

#1053: Meet The Manufacturer: A-Sha Dry Noodle Tainan Noodle – Sesame Sauce

I was sitting in the car for a while yesterday and I turned on a streaming radio app I have on my phone. I searched for noodles and found a story about the popularity of cold sesame noodles in the ’60s there and a guy named Shorty Tang whose restaurant was quite popular. Anyways, here’s the radio broadcast.

I thought hey – there’s a pack of sesame noodles in the A-Sha box… Hmmm… I contacted the folks at A-Sha USA and turns out they had advice on how to make these as a cold noodle. Well, let’s check it out!

The back of the package (click image to enlarge).

The noodle block – this time a much thinner gauge.

Sauce packet.

Looks like sesame paste and oil. Has a nice sesame scent to it.

Finished (click image to enlarge). Added chicken lunch meat, julienned carrot, julienned scrambled egg and Urashima Sesame & Salt furikake. The noodles are chewy and have a nice gauge. The flavor is different than I expected. I expected more of a strong sesame oil flavor but didn’t get that. It’s almost a peanut flavor, although it’s got sesame paste in there so I’m guessing that must be it. It’s a nicely balanced flavor and is quite good cold. A nice new flavor that I really liked. 4.0 out of5.0 stars.UPC bar code 4715635850253.

A-Sha Dry Noodles on a Taiwanese TV show.

Meet The Manufacturer: A-Sha Foods International Interview

Interview * Samples From A-sha Foods * A-Sha Dry Noodle Hakka Noodle – Chili Sauce * A-Sha Dry Noodle Tainan Noodle – Sesame Sauce * A-Sha No. 10 –  Mandarin Noodle – Black Pepper Sauce * A-Sha Dry Noodle QQ Thin Noodle – BBQ Sauce * A-Sha Dry Noodle Mandarin Noodle – Onion Oil Sauce * A-Sha Dry Noodle Hakka Noodle – Spicy Sesame Oil Sauce * A-Sha Dry Noodle Mandarin Noodle – Original Sauce

Welcome to the new Meet The Manufacturer! Recently, there’s been a lot of controversy over the new 2013 Top Ten Instant Noodles Of All Time list that was released in April. People in Taiwan were taken aback that none of their varieties were included in the list; thousands of people from Taiwan as well as Taiwanese Americans bombarded The Ramen Rater blog with comments – both nice and angry! I asked Taiwanese companies to contact me. The first is A-Sha. I interviewed A-Sha via email and here’s what they had to say.

THE RAMEN RATER> Thank you for agreeing to this interview! To start, can you tell my readers about the history of A-Sha Foods International?

A-SHA FOODS INTERNATIONAL> A-Sha Dry Noodle is the lead product from A-Sha Foods International commonly referred to as A-Sha Canteen in Chinese it is 阿舍乾麵. A-Sha Foods has been around since 2008, and it has quickly become the most popular Taiwanese Dry Noodle in Taiwan gaining worldwide brand recognition as an authentic tasting, healthy Taiwanese product that contains no MSG or preservatives. Our special manufacturing technique allows us to retain that “homemade” texture in the noodle and high quality fragrance in our sauces.
Due to its overwhelming popularity, in June 2012 we decided to begin selling in the North American marketplace to bring the flavor of Taiwanese cuisine to our native immigrants as well as share our culture and food with people of all ethnicities and backgrounds. In the USA, we are a California based business with a distribution warehouse in  Los Angeles. A-Sha gained its notoriety from its high quality healthy foods, fair prices, and popularity that leads to weeks in waiting time of receipt from when an order is placed.

TRR> What was the first product you made?

AFI> The first product was actually flour, and the noodle was a homemade lunch for employees, but they liked the noodle so much that we decided to turn it official and started sell online.

TRR> Your company is located in Taiwan. Can you tell us a little about your country?

AFI> Taiwan is well-known for its IT industry, but fewer know how marvelous the food there. The flavor is vivid and strong. Due to the history of the island, the food is basically mixed Chinese food, local Taiwanese food, and Japanese food. Taiwanese are willing to try different  kinds of food, so the competition is tough and those who can last long, are selected as a delicacy.

TRR> Can you tell us about the varieties of instant noodles you make?

AFI> We have 4 base noodles types based on thickness and texture. Additionally, we have 14 sauce packets in our flavor spectrum.  This allows a simple noodle to have multiple applications when preparing meals and providing enough flavor and texture selections to meet all consumer needs.

TRR> I recently came out with the 2013 Top Ten Instant Noodles list. To the dismay of thousands of Taiwanese people who came to The Ramen Rater website as Taiwan wasn’t represented on the list. Can you tell us a little about how instant noodles are viewed in Taiwan?

AFI> We were very sad to see no representation on the 2013 Top Ten list from Taiwan. Our culture is very much in the Instant Noodle marketplace. While our noodle has a subtle difference from other instant noodles, it is also our best characteristic. Our noodle must be cooked, and that allows the noodle proper time to develop and retain its texture.  The noodle when cooked properly will absorb the full flavor of the liquid sauce packet, and leads to a healthier product (non-fried). The wait is worth it!

TRR> In what countries are your products available?

AFI> Currently we are actively selling in Taiwan (www.a-sha.com), USA (www.ashadrynoodle.com), Hong-kong , Canada and China. There are steady customers from Singapore who have ordered on our online store, so we think our product might highly suit their taste.

TRR> How does your noodle making process differ from other instant noodle manufacturers?

AFI> What sets out noodle apart from other instant noodles is that our noodle is non-fried and a healthier alternative. Because it’s non-fried, each noodle takes 12 hours to dry so it can preserve longer without any preservatives or chemical inhibiters. Our noodle comes with a liquid sauce packet made with fresh ingredients from Taiwan with no MSG and no preservatives. Our air-dried technique, is proprietary and makes for a homemade tasting product with an amazing texture. The combination of these factors leads to a product that we believe stands above our competition.

TRR> Are instant noodles the only products you make?

AFI> In addition to our lead product, we are also now actively manufacturing and distributing our Taiwanese Pineapple Cakes. In Taiwanese culture, Pineapple Cake is equal to a Chocolate Chip Cookie.  Its treated as a daily dessert and a gift of choice for all major holidays and occasions.  Our Pineapple Cake is of the highest quality again with no MSG or preservatives, and is made from 100% Pineapples not often found in competing products.  In addition to these products, we will be producing even more products in the near future.

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?

AFI> Because our noodle is air-dried and non-fried, it is already healthier than most competing products.  In addition our sauce is totally liquid, so there are no MSG or preservatives used in the product either.  The main source of sodium in our product is from the Soy Sauce that is inevitable sodium.

TRR> Are you involved in in your local community or participate in charities?

AFI> A-Sha Foods is an active participant in our community and we believe highly in helping those less fortunate. We actively donate noodles to the Los Angeles Food Bank, Tzu Chi Buddhist organization, and other charitable organizations. We are very cognizant of relief needs and other activities and have actively donated to Hurricane Sandy Relief efforts on the East Coast donating product and shipping free of charge.  Currently, now through May 15th, for each product purchased at our online store, we are pledging $1 per product to Boston Marathon bombing goodwill. We believe community activism and getting involved to show support is not only important but something that as people we should all participate in. We will continue in our efforts to support and assist in all goodwill efforts.

TRR> Are there any new products coming soon?

AFI> We planned to launch instant noodle with different flavors, and small packs of noodle snacks this June. With current noodle, a high-end, healthy sauce is included. We continue to work with Taiwanese culinary experts and institutions to use healthy ingredients creating new products as we speak.

TRR> When you make noodles for yourself, what do you like to add to them to make them extra special?

AFI> The dry noodles are a very dynamic base staple in the Asian diet, there are many applications and varieties that can be applied to our noodle. For example, our Hakka Flat Noodle Mala Spicy can actually become a noodle soup by not draining the water in which the noodle is cooked. Additionally, our Tainan Sesame Noodle can be cooked, chilled and enjoyed as a cold noodle on hot summer days.

In terms of adding additional items to making a full meal or extra special, egg (marinated, fried, boiled) is always a great choice along with julienned carrots, cucumber, and celery. Marinated beef or tofu is also a great choice. The noodles taste great alone or with a variety of accompaniments. The choices and possibilities are endless!

TRR> Thank you very much for this opportunity to learn about A-Sha.

With that, let’s start the reviews! Thanks to Young, Hann-Wei and everyone at A-Sha here in the USA and in Taiwan. You can find their products at www.ashadrynoodle.com

Interview * Samples From A-sha Foods * A-Sha Dry Noodle Hakka Noodle – Chili Sauce * A-Sha Dry Noodle Tainan Noodle – Sesame Sauce * A-Sha No. 10 –  Mandarin Noodle – Black Pepper Sauce * A-Sha Dry Noodle QQ Thin Noodle – BBQ Sauce * A-Sha Dry Noodle Mandarin Noodle – Onion Oil Sauce * A-Sha Dry Noodle Hakka Noodle – Spicy Sesame Oil Sauce * A-Sha Dry Noodle Mandarin Noodle – Original Sauce

Top Ten List: The Past Two Days Have Been Amazing!

So these last two days have been crazy – so many people from Taiwan just coming in droves to the site and declaring their passion for the instant noodles of their country! You should be proud of yourselves; I’m never going to look at Taiwanese noodles the same again, that’s for sure! I’m sure I’ll be reviewing more very soon so keep your eyes on The Ramen Rater!

A quick note for new/media people: I’m GMT-7 (Pacific Daylight Time – just north of Seattle). I’m very open to doing interviews to whomever would like to – be it Taiwanese or agencies from other countries. Please contact me via this link and I will reply ASAP. Would really love the opportunity to say hello to all the deicated instant noodle fans out there!

Thank You,

– Hans Lienesch, The Ramen Rater

The Ramen Rater’s Top Ten Weirdest, Funniest, Grossest Instant Noodle Anomalies

Here’s a list of odd instant noodle-isms.

1. Batchelor’s Super Noodles: Bacon Flavour

We have the British to thank for these bacon instant noodles. Pair ’em with eggs and toast and t’s actually pretty great stuff. But, you should know, the rest of the day your burps will taste like bacon. This one was sent to me by a Ramen Rater fan in England who also included about two dozen other fascinating packs with flavors such as Curry, Sweet & Sour, and Southern Fried Chicken.

2. Mexi-Ramen Soupless Ramen Shallot Teriyaki Flavor

Shallots and teriyaki? What does this have to do with Mexico? Well, the company also makes Chicken Habanero and Spicy Shrimp flavors (vaguely…Mexican). Sent to me as a gift from my in-laws in California, this was the 500th instant noodle I reviewed.

3. Rocket Brand Satoimo Noodles

Purple noodles eh? Weird. Couldn’t pass them up, and actually, they were quite good. Makes for a colorful dinner plate. Purchased these at the Seattle Uwajimaya Asian supermarket.

4. Koka’s Seasonal Ingredients

Seasonal? What’s amazing is they actually change the packets depending on the season’s availability. Fascinating for flavor packets, right? Sprinkle on the vegetable-based garnishes at the very end to add a fresh bit of crunch. Koka noodles, which hail from Singapore,are great. Another purchase from 99 Ranch Market.

5. Knorr Pizza Instant Noodles

Pizza instant noodles! Where are they from? Pakistan. Does it taste like pizza? Kind of! It’s a little reminiscent of grocery store frozen pizza. Spotted these between some expired masala instant noodles at a Middle-Eastern grocery just north of Seattle.

6. Fuku Superior Soup

I’m sure you can use your imagination as to how “Fuku” should be pronounced. The instructions on the back are pretty interesting as well—”just eat it raw,” it suggests. My sister brought this ramen back from Canada but it’s imported from Hong Kong.

7. Tiger Brand Food Onion Flaver Bowl Rice Noodles

The “flaver” on this one was horrible. It scored a zero out of five stars, which is extremely rare for the Ramen Rater. It’s from Taiwan, purchased at a Seattle-area 99 Ranch Market.

8. Mayonnaise/Mustard Packet

There’s something strange and wonderful about this dual-chambered mayonnaise and mustard packet. It’s from Japan of course, the land of packaging gods. You squeeze it together with two fingers as shown and put it on the noodles after they’re cooked. Go ahead and write your name in mayostard if you want. What’s more, it’s really good on top of this Nissin Yakisoba, purchased at a Japanese grocery in Seattle called Uwajimaya.

9. Super Bihun Goreng Instant Fried Rice Noodles

These Indonesian noodles definitely win for weirdest packaging. The image depicts a fake-looking egg and chicken drumstick haphazardly tossed in with the noodles. Their logo looks like a bomb and a heart. Found in Seattle at a great little store called Viet Wah—which has a huge selection of instant noodles and thumping dance music—these are some great noodles.

10. Baijia Instant Sweet Potato Noodle Spicy Fei-Chang Flavor

From what I’ve been told, this translates to “fatty pork intestine” flavor. It’s apparently very authentic in China’s Sichuan area but it was one of the worst ramens I’ve ever tried. Nothing about the photo looks appetizing, right?

Meet The Manufacturer Re-Review: Tat Hui’s KOKA Curry Flavour Instant Non-Fried Noodles

Here’s another one – curry flavor!!! This is the four pack.

I ate the contents of this package!

Here’s the back of the package (click image to enlarge). 0.7g of fat!

Here’s the noodle block – really light.

One packet of dry seasonings.

Here’s the dry powder – has a very nice curry scent!

Here’s the veggie pack…

I love this.

This time, these get cooked with the noodles.

Finished (click image to enlarge). The noodles are just like in the last coupe packs – a decent firmness and chewiness and still not super thick. The broth is sweet and spicy – but in a curry way. It works and is quite tasty. The veggies are spot on – I really enjoyed how the peas re-hydrated – very nice and fresh. Excellent – 4.25 our of 5.0 stars. UPC barcode 8888056000258 – get it here.

KOKA TV commercial

A UK KOKA commercial.