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As anyone whose favorite indoor exercise is wandering grocery stores knows, the ramen aisle is the Epcot Center of instant gratification. Sapporo Ichiban Chicken Ramen

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Lessons in Global Ramen: It's Not All Good

MasalaRamen-pkg.jpg
As anyone whose favorite indoor exercise is wandering grocery stores knows, the ramen aisle is the Epcot Center of instant gratification. Sapporo Ichiban Chicken Ramen, the gold standard of my high school years, is so done. Not when it's shelved next to Korean ramen (quite possibly the best, as long as you hold back half of any seasoning packet with red contents), Indonesian ramen (sweet and fragrant), Thai ramen (often a little heavy on the dried shrimp but good), etc.

Trying out new ramen packets is like buying potato chips when you're traveling abroad: You can afford to take a devil-may-care approach to choosing the right packet, because you know that underneath whatever spicing the Swiss/Venezuelan/Chinese potato-chip manufacturers sprinkle on top, you'll tap into the universal appeal of fat and salt.

This packet of Smith & Jones masala ramen, picked up at Apna Bazaar, Bellevue's best Indian market, proved that Top Ramen Oriental Flavor isn't the most awful instant noodle on the international market.

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The spokescartoon on the packet seemed shocked at how good the noodles were. I was shocked that the "masala" (spice blend) flavoring was both faint and disgusting. There was a little turmeric and cumin there, and some chile heat, too. But the murky, mustard-colored broth mostly tasted like too much MSG, a nebulous flavor Slate's Sara Dickerman once pinpointed as "mushroomy." I hold out hope that Burmese, Singaporean, and Tibetan ramen will be better.
 
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