We’ve all grabbed a bowl or two of instant ramen noodles as we’ve run late to meetings, or suddenly found ourselves short on cash. It’s safe to say, however, that we haven’t grabbed quite as many bowls as Hans Lienesch has. That’s because the man has eaten — and rated — over 1,500 varieties of instant ramen. That’s right. Over 1,500. Lienesch — who is unemployed and legally blind — has spent the past several years evaluating the contents of each and every bowl of instant ramen he has consumed on his website, The Ramen Rater. Remember, we’re talking solely about the instant kind here — he says he’s been to a grand total of one ramen restaurant in his entire life.
So, just how did Lienesch arrive at his current obsession with slurping up store-bought ramen? His relationship with the dish can best be described as on-again, off-again. Exposed to it at an early age, he sampled a bunch of different flavors from a number of various brands at local stores. These experiences led to his creating a website devoted to documenting the instant meals. Minor roadblocks — including increasing boredom and a stint on the Atkins diet — led to his abandoning the page for a period of time (he also headed up a hot sauce rating website at one point).
Fast forward to present day and the website is once again growing. Each of Lienesch’s scientific reviews includes general flavor notes, as well as specific points regarding the noodles, broth and packet add-ons. Food Republic counted only nine zero-star reviews (on a five-star scale), while roughly 50 products have received a perfect score. The rater has also begun to re-review certain brands.
While instant ramen has long been viewed as the ultimate college dorm snack and a last resort workday lunch, Lienesch’s website goes to show that even the least glamorous of food items can have their differences and (MSG-laden) intricacies. Keep that — and this website — in mind next time you’re deciding between Nongshim and Maruchan in aisle six of your local grocery store.
Read these ramen stories on Food Republic: