There are few foods in the world that span a quality chasm as wide as that of ramen. On the low end, you’ve got $.15 packs of instant ramen with essentially zero actual nutritional value. On the other end of the spectrum, you’ve got your local ramen shop with its hearty $15 tonkatsu bowls that leave you warm, satisfied, and full.
Immi, a new startup founded by two Asian-American entrepreneurs who grew up around the food industry, seems to have invented a third option: premium, at-home ramen that’s actually good for you.
What’s In It?
Though Immi resembles instant ramen at a quick glance, it’s made from a blend of modern, healthy ingredients that are completely different than what you’re used to.
Case in point: a standard pack of Maruchan instant lunch packs in 37 grams of carbs (the FDA recommends 300 grams daily for a 2,000 calorie diet, but many diets urge less). A pack of Immi? Just nine. The story is reversed for protein, going from seven grams in the cheap noodles to 31 (!) for each serving of Immi, meaning a bowl of the stuff will leave you feeling full until dinner. The secret is Immi’s plant-based noodles, which are derived from things like pumpkin seed protein, faba bean protein, and wheat gluten protein for a chewy texture. Cheap ramen noodles, by comparison, are primarily made from wheat flour, which is wholly lacking in nutrients.
Beyond the noodles, the flavorings for the broth are also a huge step up from most instant noodles. A pack of Immi has 850mg of sodium, which is still quite a bit, but far less than the 1,100-1,300mg that you’d expect from traditional instant ramen. Is slurping down a bowl of Immi as healthy as eating a carrot, or a kale smoothie? Of course not. But it’s an easy meal for ramen lovers that you can actually call “healthy” with a straight face. That’s, frankly, remarkable.
Despite its wildly different list of ingredients, Immi definitely scratches that ramen itch that you’ve had since you gave up your lunchtime Cup-O-Noodles. The flavor profile is somewhat different than you’re used to, with a slight bitterness/tanginess that I grew to enjoy after just a few bites, though it won’t be for everyone. The texture is also somewhat coarse, reminiscent of soba noodles, which the founders chalk up to the added proteins and the removal of excess (and carb-filled) starches.
Immi recommends adding traditional ramen toppings like eggs, lime wedges, and cilantro, but I was perfectly happy to eat Immi plain with nothing but the included flavor packets -- Tom Yum Shrimp is my favorite, but Black Garlic Chicken and Spicy Beef are great as well. The broth actually tastes like what’s on the label, and not like a mouthful of salt with vague flavor notes hidden underneath. I normally pour my instant ramen’s extra broth down the drain, but with Immi, slurping down the dregs is a highlight of the meal.
Crucially, Immi is as easy to prepare as regular instant ramen. Just add the noodles -- which, notably, are soft before they’re even cooked -- and two cups of water to a bowl, microwave for five minutes, replace the cooking water with a cup of fresh hot water, and stir in the flavor packet. My only word of warning: use a large-ish bowl, if you have one, as I had some water splatter out of a cereal bowl the first time I made Immi.
This is where things diverge from the ramen you’ve been making at home all your life. Prices vary a bit by how many packs you order, but you’re generally looking in the range of $6 per pack, which would put it Immi on the high end of microwave lunch options. At that price, it might not be an everyday meal, but could be a delicious (and healthy!) option when you’re craving noodles.
If you want to try it yourself, be sure to use promo code DISCOVERER at checkout to get free shipping on individual purchases, but note that it won’t work on subscriptions.