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Rise of the ramen bots

Original post made on Feb 1, 2019

While there's no shortage of excellent ramen restaurants downtown, some Mountain View tech workers have come to love a new automatic ramen vending machine in their office.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Friday, February 1, 2019, 11:48 AM

Comments (12)

Posted by resident
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Feb 1, 2019 at 12:08 pm

I have to question companies that are installing these machines for their employees. Ramen is fine in moderation, but it is very high in calories and salt so eating it every day is terrible for your weight and blood pressure. I hope the companies also offer their employees healthier meal options, especially with large portions of fresh fruits and vegetables.

Posted by Common sense
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Feb 1, 2019 at 1:04 pm

Common sense is a registered user.

"resident:" I'm with you on the fresh fruits and vegetables. However, Japanese ramen per-se is just "wheat noodles" (fresh noodles, ideally) and if the finished dish happens to have salt (or -- even less obvious in real ramen houses -- fat), then that's a function of the broth and garnishes the noodles are served with, and is under the cook's control. So it is not accurate to make a blanket claim like "it is very high in calories and salt." Ramen is not inherently "very high in" anything besides grain and water content.

The claim would be accurate if referring to those instant so-called "ramen" products sold in packages in supermarkets (based on dry cakes of noodles precooked by deep frying, and on heavily salted powdered fake "broth" base). But that is a hokey offshoot concept of "ramen" and not this article's context. It refers plainly to the "ramen house" restaurants, serving freshly cooked (and even freshly made -- Maru Ichi has a booth up front where the manager makes noodles and can be watched from Castro Street) noodles in broth of choice, garnished with various vegetables, thinly shaved chashu pork, etc.

Posted by Tired of our infrastructure
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Feb 1, 2019 at 2:35 pm

Developed countries put their utility lines underground... I guess we live in Silicon Valley, the poster place for all things advanced... or maybe not so when you take a closer look.

Posted by William Hitchens
a resident of Waverly Park
on Feb 1, 2019 at 4:43 pm

William Hitchens is a registered user.

I worked for a telecom startup at the height of the telecom boom --- 2000 and 2001. The pressure was fierce, and "extremely unhealthy" food helped alleviate the resulting stomach pains and hunger from too much free coffee. They served "free" lunches during mandatory daily engineering meetings (always fat&salt-laden pizza and sub sandwiches), and they had a stocked pantry of dangerous junk food like pop tarts, cup-o-noodles, and candy. I got hooked on ramen, and gained 25 lbs in those 2 years, and my blood pressure spiked. Like almost all overly-greedy telecom (and startups, they went broke and into Chapter 11 and I was furloughed for 6 months. That time off gave me a chance to clean up my diet, exercise daily, and lose more than those 25 lbs.

They gave us that food to keep us happy and productive, and they didn't give a damn about our health. I'm very happy to say that all of their venture capital sharks went broke, all of the senior management were discredited and fired, and the rest of us went on to better, far less abusive jobs.

Posted by Reader X
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Feb 1, 2019 at 6:47 pm

Commenter "Common sense" is correct.

Ramen typically served in ramen shops are made with fresh noodles. There is very little fat in the noodles and not much from the broth. It's the shelf-stable instant ramen stuff that's decidedly less healthy.

That begs the question. What sort of noodles are being used in the machine? What ingredients are being used in the broth?

The machine produces a convenient, effortless meal.

Ramen isn't inherently bad as "resident" claims. After all, ramen is a very common working person's lunch in Japan and they have the highest life expectancy of all major industrialized nations.

Ramen has the same underpinnings as similar, much older Japanese noodle dishes: udon, soda, etc. A noodle in a flavored broth with some garnishes (animal proteins and vegetables).

If you look at a 19th century Italian cookbook, many of the pasta recipes are named "_____ in brodo." That's right, in broth. Broth is an excellent medium for cooked noodles and pretty much any country on this planet that makes noodles also has soup with noodles.

Bashing ramen is myopic and shows a lack of understanding of a basic food type that humans have been eating for centuries.

Posted by resident
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Feb 1, 2019 at 8:34 pm

For those of you who think ramen is healthy, here is the nutritional breakdown of a typical bowl of restaurant ramen. Web Link

It is loaded with fat and has a dangerous amount of sodium. Calorie count is more than a Big Mac while vitamin content is very poor. This is for miso ramen, which is one of the most popular flavors. Tonkotsu ramen (another popular flavor) has even more calories as well a dangerous amount of cholesterol.

If this is the easiest lunch for employees to get and they are eating it every day, that is just like handing out diabetes and heart attacks.

Posted by Jes' Sayin'
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Feb 1, 2019 at 11:32 pm

Pretty much all modern ramens that are around these days suck. The reason is that they CHEAT. They all add BUTTER into the broth. Making a good ramen broth is a challenge, but everyone will like it if it a stick or two of flavorful butter in it. But this is not ramen. Not really.

Philz Coffee has the same problem, by the way.

People should stop and think about that they're paying for.

Posted by Ed
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Feb 2, 2019 at 8:23 am

It's not "tonkAtsu" it's, tonkOtsu.

the former is a fried cutlet, the latter is a bone broth.

Posted by Common sense
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Feb 2, 2019 at 12:10 pm

Common sense is a registered user.

"resident:" You've supplanted your earlier blanket assertion ("it is very high in calories and salt") -- inaccurate, as explained above -- with a selected narrow example (I could have even offered better ones for the same rhetorical point, but why???) I question your huge assumptions, and efforts to counter claims no comment made ("those of you who think ramen is healthy," "eating it every day"). Again: ramen is a genre, it can have more or less healthy preparations. Like most foods. What about that don't you understand?

Pronouncements like "eating it every day is terrible for your weight and blood pressure" follow a long tradition of simplistic, good/bad nutritional sloganeering (often with an attitude of enlightening the benighted):

"Avoid nuts, they're just calories, mainly fat." [Completely wrong-headed: common nuts contain omega-3 components now known to be essential nutrients.] "Tropical oils are bad for you, use artifically hydrogenated vegetable oils instead because they're polyunsaturated." [Disastrous consequences.] "Never eat eggs, their yolks contain cholesterol" [It was already well established that dietary cholesterol has little to do with blood-cholesterol levels, an essential biochemical produced inside the body regardless.] People love to absorb and dispense simplistic "health" slogans that make them feel virtuous.

Posted by DC
a resident of Sylvan Park
on Feb 2, 2019 at 4:01 pm

Just for comparison.
My can of pasta has 11% fat 13% sat fat 33% sodium.
Which is no where what home made pasta has.
But a breakdown of the machine version would be interesting.

Posted by Mark Noack
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Feb 4, 2019 at 3:08 pm

Mark Noack is a registered user.

I had no idea that the nutrition value of ramen would prompt such a lively debate!

I can't speak for the specific sodium levels or carbs in a Yo-Kai ramen bowl, but the company does post the nutrition tables for each dish on their machine interface. Every consumer has the chance to review this before they make their final order.

Posted by Now we're a community!
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Feb 4, 2019 at 4:12 pm

"I had no idea that the nutrition value of ramen would prompt such a lively debate!"

You forget, if there are two people in the world with enough time and desire to actually debate the nutritional value of ramen, they'll find each other on the internet. Likely on some discussion board somewhere.
It was just a matter of time.

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