These ascetic noodles taste like soy sauce, and leave out all animal products — as well as the five pungent roots!
Sometimes what we think we want and what we need are at odds. Perhaps your body thinks it wants a gigantic slab of beef on a burger, but you’d actually be much more spiritually satisfied with a meatless curry. This goes double in recent times, seeing how the meat industry has a not-insignificant impact on the environment, and so it’s little wonder that the food industry is looking for ways to cater to vegetarian and vegan palates.
But as it turns out, there’s a set of experts who are old hands at this whole “restrictive diet” thing. That’s right: Buddhist monks! Shojin ryori is the name given to the diet eaten by devout monks, and while said diet varies based on location and teachings, the general rules remain the same: no meat, no eggs, no fish — and none of the five pungent roots either. This refers to aromatic roots: garlic, Allium chinense, asafoetida, shallot and mountain leek, all of which are said to “excite and stimulate” the palate.
Shoji Ramen Zendo, a cup ramen brand that went on sale on February 1, promises to avoid animal products — as well as any exciting and stimulating flavors.
▼ Even the packaging is calm, clean and minimalistic.
Zen-Foods, creator of Shoji Ramen Zendo, spent three whole years perfecting their recipe to provide a wholesome, nourishing meal for vegetarians and vegans…while honoring the principles of an austere Zen diet. They’ve dabbled in the cup ramen market prior to this, but this marks Zen-Foods’ first soy sauce ramen, and unlike their previous offerings the Shoji Ramen Zendo comes with soy meat toppings!
▼ Rather than aromatic herbs, this ramen uses bok choy, ginseng and pumpkin for added flavor.
The base for the broth was created by brewing Japanese kelp alongside other vegetables in soy sauce, and results in a mellow, “nostalgic” flavor that even meat-eaters should be able to appreciate. And at under 300 kilocalories, it’s a light and refreshing meal that won’t leave you feeling as encumbered as other variations on cup ramen that we could name.
Don’t hold your breath waiting to see this frugal noodle cup on supermarket shelves, though. If you want to taste this healthy twist on a classic snack, you’ll need to order it directly for now, from the supplier in a case of twelve for 3,600 yen plus tax (US$32.78).