Several Zenpop boxes with many ramen cups and bowls in front

Ramen News: What Zenpop's Ramen Box Closing Means for You

Did you hear the news? If you haven’t, the news is that Zenpop is closing both its snack box and its ramen box. We know their subscribers are probably feeling a bit lost from losing their monthly ramen experience. That’s why we’re here with a little more information about the closing, what it means for you (the ramen enthusiast), and a few alternatives that we know you’ll love!

A Quick Summary

An image announcing that Zenpop is ending support for their ramen and snack boxes
We're not making it up. Zenpop has already made the announcement on their blog and social media! Image via Instagram (@zenpopjapan)

Again, Zenpop announced earlier this month that they were ending support for their ramen and snack boxes from July 1st, 2024. This means two things. First is that their final boxes will ship out in June. Second is that everyone who has a subscription that goes past that should get a refund by July 31st. However, this is definitely not the end of Zenpop, with their stationery box still in business.

This follows just a few months after the closing of Umai Crate in late 2023, alongside some of Japan Crate’s other services (Inku Crate, Doki Doki Crate, etc.). The means that two long-running Japan-based ramen boxes are out of the ramen game.

An image announcing the closing of Umai Crate by Bokksu and Japan Crate
We'll never know exactly why these boxes closed, but we do know that they were side businesses for both Zenpop and Japan Crate. Image via Instagram (@umaicrate)

Not only were they-Japan based, they were also Japan-focused. Zenpop and Umai Crate both offered Japanese ramen produced in Japan, whereas other services, like My Ramen Box and Munch Addict, offer a more generally Asia-focused noodle experience.

So, what effect does this have on the Japanese ramen lovers out there?

What it Means for You (the Ramen Lover)

Several cups of ramen and dishes sit in front of an Umai Crate box
What does it mean when two ramen box icons leave the game? Let's find out! Image via Instagram (@umaicrate)

Like we mentioned, Zenpop’s ramen box and Umai Crate were two major Japan-focused ramen boxes. Then, among those, they were two of only a handful of Japan-based boxes. That means that if you want a monthly ramen experience, you might have to go with a more East and Southeast Asia-focused box.

While you can enjoy plenty of delicious ramen from other countries, you may miss out on some of the limited-edition or regional ramen options offered only in Japan. You may also lose out on other Japanese noodles, like soba, udon or yakisoba.

On top of that, you miss out on getting a curated experience from Japan-based companies that not only know all about Japanese ramen but have access to some of the latest and limited-time ramen products sold here. That includes seasonal options, regional options, unique flavors and Japan-exclusives.

Also, Japan-based boxes cater to folks outside of Japan, meaning that they have international shipping. However, some of the other options don’t ship internationally, only operating in their own country. This is great if you live in that country, but not so great for those living outside of that country. This means that you might have even fewer options based on where you live.

So what is there to do if you’re a ramen enthusiast who wants a box of ramen delivered to your door?

Zenpop Ramen and Umai Crate Alternatives

So, with Zenpop and Umai Crate out of the game (or soon to be out), where can you get premium Japanese instant ramen? If you want Japanese noodles sent straight from a Japan-based company every month, check out these options that are still around to satisfy that ramen craving.

Nakama Noodles

Want a fun box of Japanese ramen with great value? Check out this totally unbiased option.

It’s us! Nakama Noodles is our monthly ramen box based in Osaka and backed by the Japanese online shop MiauMall. Our box includes 8-10 bowls, cups and packs of ramen, udon and soba with a new theme every month. The ramen and other noodles we put in are often regional and limited-edition, meaning that almost all of the items in each box are really hard to find outside of Japan (even at your local Asian markets or online).

We’re new to the ramen game, but we’re gaining a reputation for our affordability, with one box ranging from 6200 JPY for a monthly plan to 5800 JPY per month for a 12-month plan. (That’s a range of $43 USD for a monthly to $37 USD for a 12-month at the time of writing this.)

Instant Ramen Japan (5 AM Ramen)

Instant Ramen Japan is a monthly ramen service from the super cool ramen blogger, ramen tour guide and ramen photographer, Frank of 5 AM Ramen. This box service includes five premium instant ramen bowls from all around Japan. They also have a special “Ramen Rank” loyalty system that offers more chances for free prizes.

Although the premium ramen they offer looks really good, the price tag is a bit high for five bowls. For a single month, a box costs $62 USD, while 12 months will run you $55.80 per month.

5 AM Ramen also makes some really cool ramen content, so check out their Instagram page if you're a ramen enthusiast. 

Separately on Online Shops

One of the great things about living in Japan is how easily and cheaply you can get premium ramen. The local supa (supermarket) or conbini (convenience store) sell plenty of options, both common staples and limited-edition cups, bowls or packs. Even better, because they’re local products, these instant noodle options are all super affordable.

However, living abroad means that you might have to order your noodles individually from online sites. While you can curate your own experience, Japan-exclusive ramen and udon can get pretty expensive when you buy them online.

Part of it is the cost of each individual item. However, add the shipping and the fact that you might have to use several sites to get the same level of variety, and you’ll probably end up paying several shipping fees from several sites.

That being said, ramen services often offer items that are so hard to get that they may even be sold out or done selling by the time you search for them. That means that not only will it cost more to get them individually online, but you possibly won’t even be able to find the same items.

A box is definitely a more fun way to try different flavors and brands of ramen straight from Japan. Image via Instagram (@zenpopjapan)

While we’re sad to see Zenpop’s ramen box and Umai Crate go, we’re also happy to let you know that there are other options out there to make sure you get your ramen fix. And remember, we’re still here to provide delicious ramen to you every month!

Were you surprised by the Zenpop news? Let us know in the comments!

And remember to check out Nakama Noodles!

Check out Nakama Noodles Today!
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