REVIEW: Nissin Choice Ramen Savory Herb Chicken

If you’ve ever experienced any financially lean years, you’ve most likely eaten enough ramen to have it circle the globe several times over. During this time, lunch was not a matter of what bistro to hit up, but what flavor packets to mix together. You know, for that exotic taste of the orient. You probably also never took a moment to make light of the fact that you were your heftiest during these “lean” years; your brain being too bogged down by the tremendous amount of fat in your head to appreciate concepts like irony and humor.

This is never a good time in anyone’s life, but Nissin’s new Choice brand of ramen noodles promises to help you get you through these years looking slim and feeling like a worthwhile contributor to society. At around two for a dollar, they’re still affordable, though not in that “buy ’em by the ration crate” sort of way that regular ramen can be when it’s on sale. The package boasts lower fat, less sodium, and a fancy-sounding “Savory Herb Chicken” flavor that is meant to distinguish it from lesser ramen.

The back of the package reveals that their secret is in a new air-drying technology that means that the noodles are not deep fried. From my tried and true formula of “Food + Deep Fry = Good x 2 (type of coating),” I figured that these noodles would not be as tasty. The noodles are no longer a two-layered brick, but rather a disc that conforms more easily to the perimeter of your pot. I garnished with green onions and a sprig of cilantro for a half-assed presentation that made me feel like I actually cooked something.

My first impression was that the noodles were about as good as I could expect packaged ramen to be − not gummy, not too soft, and with just the right amount of firmness. The soup, however, was a different story. With just 25% less sodium than the notoriously salty regular ramen, you would expect the flavor to be just right. The soup turned out to be bland and muted with no hint of herbs in it whatsoever.

Choice ramen could be a great product if the soup base had any flavor whatsoever. I would pair the surprisingly tasty noodles with a regular ramen packet, but that would sort of defeat the purpose of “lower sodium” and thus the appeal of “healthy” ramen. Damn you, soup packet, why must you go and embarrass my poached egg in such a way? Head back to the factory and come back with a healthy version of MSG.

(Nutritional Facts – Half package – 140 calories, 10 calories from fat, 1 gram of fat, 0 grams of saturated fat, 0 mg of cholesterol, 480mg sodium, 28 gram of carbs, 2 grams of dietary fiber, 4 grams of protein, and 10% iron)

(Editor’s Note: Thanks to Amy for suggesting the Nissin Choice Ramen. Ace’s blood pressure would also like to thank Amy.)

Item: Nissin Choice Ramen Savory Herb Chicken
Price: 49 cents
Purchased at: Northgate Market
Rating: 5 out of 10
Pros: Healthier version of one of the unhealthiest items on the open market. Affordable, though not stupidly cheap like regular ramen. Noodles maintain a nice, reasonably firm texture as you’re eating.
Cons: Not a lot of flavor in the flavor packet at all. Noodle to soup ratio is a little too high for my liking. Healthier, but not exactly health food.

22 thoughts to “REVIEW: Nissin Choice Ramen Savory Herb Chicken”

  1. Ace, we’ve reviewed too many Nissin products. I think at this point they should be paying us to review their stuff. Even though we usually give them bad scores. Or at least they could cover our medical insurance.

  2. This reminds me of a previous post, about the Ramen “Select” cup o’ soups. I actually had bought them a few times and the last time I was at the store I normally purchase them at — Weis/Mr. Z’s in Northeast PA, they were discounted at a ridiculously low price. I looked at the sign and apparently they are now being discontinued. Why? I don’t know, but I figured I’d give you a heads up on it.

  3. I usually drain my ramen and mix it with some butter and parmesan cheese. So I might give this a try since I don’t use the broth anyways and it would be nice to have fewer calories & sodium.

    Thanks for the review, Ace!

  4. Paying more than $.10 for ramen just seems fundamentally wrong – healthy ramen, is even more disturbing. Where are the other horsemen? Next, these will have tofu in them.

    P.S. – Ramen is all about the poached egg!

  5. I usually drain half the water out of them and eat the noodles by them selves.. even then I can feel my blood pressure rising.. they are a lazy person’s lunch for work too! 🙂

  6. Does 80% fat free mean that it’s still 20% fat? That seems kind of high still. I guess for an entire package that’s only 2 grams of fat which isn’t bad.

    I think I’ll stick to Kraft Dinner…

  7. I gave up on Ramen noodles 10 years ago. Go to an Asian market and ask for Ma-ma noodles. They are ramen like noodles, but they come with an oil flavor packet, a dry powder mix, and a little pack of hot chili powder. About 1/2 of the chili powder works for me.

    Anyway, they are much tatsier than regular ramen, and cost about 30 cents a package. You can get them in pork, chicken, shrimp and maybe another flavor.

    No idea about the nutirion info.

  8. Hey Ace, Is that an egg on top of the ramen in your photo?

    I occasionally indulge in some Ramen eating, but I’ve fortunately never had to survive on it as a main staple of my diet.

  9. Nice Photo, I love the bowl! I have to give you points for presentation Ace, but at the end of the meal.. its still just ramen.. you boys are going to get me to donate to the site yet, so you can eat something besides the stuff that is sent to you!

  10. i’m gonna have to go ahead and agree with the ramen noodle contingent- the texture is just right. the packet o’ seasonings, however, is severely lacking. hence why, many moons ago (aka the college years), a friend of my roommate got the great idea to make drunkfood out of our myriad ramen packets- we (drunkenly) cooked the hell out of the ramen noodles, tossed the packets, and instead mixed together some concoction of tomato, cream, cheese and deliciousness that came to be known as spaghetto. it was tastiness of epic valor. i also cannot remember for the life of me what we put into it or what that guy’s name was. which is pretty much college in a nutshell. badumching.

  11. Marvo – With all the bad scores, I think they would rather send out hired goons to make sure our medical insurance is put to good use.

    Kylie – I’ve never had saimin, but I’m sure Marvo has since it’s apparently big in Hawaii.

    Michelle D – Hopefully it was because of the bland taste and not something like explosive diarrhea because I have enough problems as it is.

    Hunter – In Japan, they put eggs on almost all of their ramen. I just like it cause it fills me up.

    Nevis – You’re very welcome. I ought to try that butter and parmesan thing sometime. Butter and cheese tend to warm my heart(and clog it too).

    SheRa – I’ve seen ramen with dehydrated tofu in them before, but they’re ridiculously expensive (like $2.00 each). I might review them, so get those bomb shelters ready for when the horsemen are upon us.

    Lex – I’ve never really enjoyed dry ramen, but there is one brand I like called Indomie that comes with a wickedly addictive mystery sauce. You should give that a try sometime.

  12. Armauld – I never understood how those percentage things work, but I do enjoy when candies label themselves “100% fat free” as if they’re going to be good for you.

    Reprobate – My poaching technique comes from Sandra Lee, who preaches that if you can’t do something right, do it in 30 seconds or less.

    Maria – I will give those a try. I always like going to the Asian market and trying all the different brands. Plus, I feel tall while I’m there.

    kell – Regular ramen packets are basically boullion cubes anyway, I don’t think that’d be great for my sodium intake.

    Chuck – Indeed that is an egg that I threw in while the noodles were boiling. And you haven’t lived until you’ve lived off ramen. Something about all that sodium and malnutrition really gets your blood pumping. Most likely due to high blood pressure, but still.

    bikerbabeee – Actually, almost all of my reviews are things that I buy. This is probably hard to believe considering the quality of some of the products, but it is the sad truth.

    betsy – You should check Matt Fischer’s ramen homepage and submit your recipe if it ever comes to you. I’m sure many people would love to share your epic glory.

  13. You could use HALF a regular ramen packet and it would be less sodium but still tastier. Then you can reap the benefits of “less fat” and 50% less sodium without having to endure torture of the taste buds.

    You could also try putting sesame seed oil or something to the likes of it in the broth — it might make it taste better, but still be pseudo-healthy… Though at this point it’s ramen we’re talking here, so it’s not like we can complain much, can we? -Sobs-

  14. You’ve had it. It’s the same thing, I was just being bratty! Did you know our mcdonalds have saimin on the menu? Cool, huh?

  15. what i like to do is drain half of the water when i eat ramen.

    i’ve started buying only Choice Ramen Savory Herb Chicken flavors… i hate the other ones…

    it is delicious!

  16. for flavor, you have to try a spicy korean ramen called “Shin Ramen” by Nong Shim.

    let me say that I’ve eaten a lot of ramen (and noodles in general) in my days. and this is a classic, as much a comfort food to koreans (and other asians) as chicken soup is to anglos.

    click on shin ramyun on this page:


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