Even With Gold And Truffles, The Latest Crazy Rich Ramen Set Isn't Worth $200

Despite the market's waning dependence on meal kit delivery companies, premiere brands like Salt and Straw and Lindt have spent marketing dollars thinking outside the box and delivering luxury experiences to consumers who may not ever pass through the entrance of physical stores.

A-Sha, the American, plant-based noodle company based out of the Asian alcove of Alhambra, California, has joined the ranks of clever at-home marketing ploys to lure the elite customer into clicking its fancified product over to its online shopping cart. While A-Sha's entry-level ramen packs remain in the range of generic brands (around $34 for a 15-pack, breaking down to just over $2 a serving), the brand's top-shelf offering, the Crazy Rich Ramen set, will set its customer back nearly $200 for a set of eight ramen servings.

The 2021 edition of last year's kit was even pricier. The caviar-studded edition of Crazy Rich Ramen cost customers a staggering $550, which we're assuming was largely due to the inclusion of Astrea Caviar. This year, A-Sha's second installment of the extravagant bundle of dried noodles and flavored seasonings is now collaborating with New York's upscale truffle-infused sauce and snack brand, Truffleiest.

What's in the box?

Like so many luxury goods, A-Sha's Crazy Rich Ramen arrives in an almost comically large case, roughly the size of three tennis shoe boxes. The sleek, black matte package opens upward like the top of a treasure chest. It cradles eight packets of A-Sha's signature, air-dried Taiwanese noodles and a duo of its flavor packets — one dry and the other sauce-y. Along with this comes two 2-ounce bottles of Truffleiest Truffle Oil, two 3-ounce jars of truffle sauce (by the same truffle purveyor), and one 25-milligram satchet of edible gold flakes. Resting atop the receiver's edible cache awaits a semi-transparent sheet of paper that list the brand's simple instructions for preparing a bowl of its lavish ramen.

The understated, gold-embalmed case teeters on corny, plus A-Sha and Truffliest's brandings dual for attention and clash against the otherwise polished design of the minimalistic packing. Still, the compartmentalized box does succeed in making its opener feel both overwhelmed with items and curious about its contents.

How much is it?

At just under $200 for eight bags of noodles and accompaniments, the price for each serving of A-Sha's Truffle Ramen runs at around $25 a pop — surpassing (in some places, at least) the cost of a bowl of restaurant-made ramen, one that features fresh noodles and homemade broth. However, according to Truffliest's online store, the little bottles of truffle oil retail for $12 a vial, and the truffle sauce (made mostly of meadow mushrooms, olive oil, olives, and summer truffles) sells for $22 a jar.

So with a total of $68 worth of Truffliest goods, the newest Crazy Rich Ramen collection seems reasonable when relating it to the price tag of A-Sha's previous caviar-accented ramen, and considering the value of the Truffliest items. As for the edible gold flakes, we're unsurprised to report that they're tasteless. The goal (of making diners feel swanky) only left us a little embarrassed to be reduced to tweezering flavorless glitter from a fancy dime bag.

Where can you get it?

Though A-Sha's basic ramen packages, and its collaboration with Sanrio, can be found in person everywhere, from Target to Urban Outfitters, we couldn't find an online or in-person retailer willing to take a risk on an item as elaborate as the Crazy Rich Ramen kit. That, or A-Sha only wants to distribute its most posh offering directly. Either way, the year's Crazy Rich Ramen Truffle set can only be found on the brand's official online store. It will be delivered reliably within a week — and with no additional shipping fees (a small offering we greatly appreciate when dropping nearly $200 on elaborate instant ramen).

Not even A-Sha's collaborator, Truffliest, offers the set on its website. But, its contributions (the truffle oil and sauce) are readily available over the web. So, if you want to cobble together the ramen and accessories yourself, it's possible. You could feasibly do so if you had a source for edible gold, and you don't mind settling for another of A-Sha's also great, dried instant noodles

How to make it

Like its instant ramen predecessors, A-Sha's Crazy Rich Ramen kit is exceedingly easy to assemble — even the most inept bachelors (or bachelorettes) could confidently cook up a serving of truffle ramen for themselves and their loved ones without shedding a single bead of anxiety-induced sweat.

Basically, if you know how to boil water and use a colander, you're set; but for technicalities sake, we'll detail the nitty gritty details of composing a plate of Crazy Rich Ramen Truffle Ramen. Firstly, boil the dried, knife-cut noodles for five minutes (according to the instructions, though we found four minutes and thirty seconds kept the noodles slightly more al dente). Then, drain and plate the noodles into the same bowl they'll be served in. Like a traditional instant ramen, you'll next open and mix the pouch of soy sauce and sachet of dehydrated sesame and scallions into your noodles, stirring until they're evenly coated.

To add the truffles, include a "generous spoonful" (according to the in-box instructions) of Truffliest's Truffle Sauce, once again stirring to completely coat the noodles before drizzling the plate with a final fragrant burst of truffle oil. Finally, delicately garnish the noodles with edible gold flakes, and voila, your truffle ramen is complete.

How does it taste?

The noodles are admittedly good; if you pull them at the suggested five-minute cook time, they retain an al dente toothsomeness. We were surprised they came from the unassuming dried noodles we had ripped open moments before. A-Sha's air-dried Taiwanese-style noodles boast a slight ruffle, not unlike an Italian riccia, and impressively nestle both Trufflliest's sauce and oil.

As for the truffle brand's additions to the dish, what's delivered is exactly what's promised. The oil is exceedingly smooth, without the bitter astringence of low-quality imitations. And, it is strongly laced with the pungent earthiness of truffle mushrooms. On the other hand, the truffle sauce is cut with so many black olives that a meaty, briny undertone haunts the back notes on the nose and, on the pallet, tastes a little rotten.

We initially blamed the off-putting flavor on the soy sauce-based flavoring packet encased in the noodle package. Upon closer examination, we realized the alkaline-like zing was emanating from the Truffliest's jar. Our best guess is that the brand strived to invent a sauce that would flaunt a noticeably black color, probably hoping to ensure Truffliest customers of the high truffle count per jar. By relying on the raven-hued accents of fresh olive fruit, the otherwise pleasant sauce is overpowered by the discord of two competing elements.

How it compares to generic instant ramen

Most noticeably, the "truffle ramen" that the box promises, which its website says is "the world's first truffle ramen," falls short of its word. More closely, it resembles a biang biang noodle, wherein the chili oil has been swapped out for truffles, and the noodles are dried for convenience. Even the shape of the noodle openly leans into the shape of Taiwanese cooking more than Japan's slightly kinked, thinner ramen noodles.

Moreover, unlike the instant ramen we grew up eating, A-Sha asks its consumers to drain the water the noodles were cooked in as opposed to mixing up a soupy broth with its liquid. Though striking, when plated, the dish looks more akin to Sichuan or Taiwanese cuisine than the ramen we expected when we opened the box. Not so much as critique as an observation, we would probably have been equally as likely to purchase the Crazy Rich Ramen kit had we known the noodles were served as a broth-less dish, drenched in truffle oil rather than the earthy soup we assumed we'd be cooking.

Is it worth $200?

It's hard to say whether or not the ramen set is worth its ticketed price, considering how the box components rack up a tally of high-end goods. Compared to the inaugural box, we admired a few things. The latest edition has a more scaled-back nature; like classic ramen packs, it's stored outside the fridge without fretting about the freshness of caviar.

Most notably, A-Sha's dried, knife-cut noodles eclipsed our expectations and crashed through the glass ceiling of instant options. If A-Sha decides to offer that separately, we'd happily convert it to a cupboard staple. That said, we imagine the noodles to be one of the lower-value items included in the opulent set.

We whole-heartedly like Truffliest's truffle-infused olive oil, but we can't see the strengths of its truffle sauce — especially once joined with soy and sesame packets. Neither could we get on board with the superfluous gold flakes.

Considering this, we would rather opt for a spruced-up instant ramen package already lurking in our pantry, though admittedly, there's no ceremony or giftability in that. The Crazy Rich Ramen set solely exists as an over-the-top present meant to thrill its recipient with frivolous lavishness. For that, we see value in its gaudiness. And who knows, maybe there's a diner who would appreciate the sauce. For that person, the Crazy Rich Ramen set would be an ideal gift, but for us, it was a slight letdown after the promise of expertly made noodles was sullied by subpar sauce.