You probably want to hustle over to Japan, if not for the pandemic. Why? Not the Olympics. But for Cup of Noodles.
We’re all familiar with Nissin’s classic Cup Noodle brand for its plethora of affordable flavours that you can easily find at your local supermarket or convenience store. The original instant ramen is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year with Keio Plaza Hotel. Coincidentally, the hotel is also celebrating 50 years of being in business, so the two have teamed up to offer an all-you-can-eat feast made with the world’s most famous instant noodles from July 1 to August 31.
Head to the Super Buffet on the second floor for two hours of unlimited Cup Noodle cuisine. The restaurant will be stocked with around 70 dishes, all of which incorporate the instant noodles in one way or another, whether it’s using the flavour packets, freeze dried veggies or the noodles themselves.
You’ll find mini chili tomato noodle burgers, cold shabu-shabu pork drizzled with tonkotsu pork broth sauce, lemon-flavoured gratin made with seafood noodles, and even sweet treats like chocolate mousse made with miso cup noodles.
The buffet is ¥5,800 per person for lunch and ¥7,800 for dinner – that means the lunchtime buffet costs the equivalent of about 30 Cup Noodles.
Before you laugh, let me tell you about my experience with Cup of Noodles. As I prepared for two plus weeks on the Trans Siberian Railway, previous travel experts all agreed on one thing. Bring Cup of Noodles to eat, or you might starve!! I went one step above, and bought a higher quality cup or bowl of instant noodles. I think I brought at least half a dozen, along with a beef stick, mixed nuts, a dozen energy bars, beef jerky, instant Starbucks coffee, and assorted tea bags. I probably had other snacks, like Japanese rice crackers, dried fruit, and cheese.
I can tell you that, despite traveling in First Class, the food on board was generally a half step below what you might recall in grammar school. When I asked why the beer was not cold, the dining car manager said they did not have refrigeration. I quickly concluded that none of the perishables were refrigerated as well!!! So, after one meal in the dining car, I quickly moved to Plan B.
Plan B was rather simple and fun. At stops of more than 10 or 15 minutes, Russian ladies sell their homemade wares on the platform. It can range from smoked fish, bread, dumplings, boiled potatoes, and “assorted” sweets. We would run out to the platform, look at the various food being offered, and buy enough to eat and share for the dinner that evening.
We would commune at one of the compartments (two people per room even in First Class), generally, whoever had the vodka or beer. The smoked fish and boiled potatoes became my favorite meal. My lunch would be my noodles, my favorite is the Sapporo Ichiban. Breakfast was my Starbucks, and whatever breakfast pastry I could find at the bakeries on the platform.
But, the key to survival on the Trans Siberian is the ability to barter. And since my noodles were superior to any other available noodles or food, I was able to get the best smoked fish (omul), and vodka or beer. Another popular item, which I tried once or twice was cup of instant mashed potatoes. It was not bad!!!
So, before you turn your nose up on the mighty Cup of Noodles, realize that in some parts of the world, it might be GOLD!!!