There are hundreds of ways to make ramen. You can switch up ingredients, change the base flavor, add eggs – the list goes on. Unfortunately, while the different forms of ramen may be delicious, they can also be unhealthy.
Kevin Lee is the Co-Founder of immi, an Asian-American food brand that offers a low-carb, high-protein and 100% plant-based ramen. How does he do it? Check out my interview with Kevin to learn more.
Please tell us a little about immi.
immi is an Asian-American food brand that focuses on providing highly-nutritious, better-for-you products. We make the world’s first low-carb, high protein and 100% plant-based instant ramen.
My Co-Founder and I both grew up with grandparents in the food industry in Taiwan and Thailand, and we saw that our families were experiencing high rates of chronic health conditions. We wanted to build this healthy food brand to address a lot of those conditions in our families.
We spent two years in research and development preparing all of the initial recipes and formulations ourselves. Later on, we ended up working with nutritionists, chefs and food science PhDs.
A lot of our work was around re-imagining traditional ramen, which is comprised primarily of enriched wheat flour, and replacing a lot of core ingredients with plant proteins. For example, our primary ingredient is pumpkin seed protein.
We happened to find other novel ingredients too. In the seasoning package, traditional brands use preservatives, color additives, and low-quality sodium sources. We’ve decided to use 100% plant-based, all natural ingredients, no preservatives, and high-quality sodium sources like sea salt.
A lot of it comes down to the quality of manufacturing methods. We work with a number of different Asian manufacturers that are very well-versed in their crafts, and have been doing it for decades now. We pay very close attention to sourcing high-quality ingredients, which are all non-GMO.
Our ramen is shelf-stable and can be stored safely for up to a year. We wanted to make sure that the food products we create are full of nutritional value.
immi offers a complete meal, with 22 grams of protein, 18 grams of fiber and only 5 to 6 grams of net carbs. We offer better nutritional values than most frozen meals and fast foods.
There are three main players within the traditional ramen space: Nissin, Maruchan and Nongshim.
We have three flavors. Black Garlic Chicken is our most popular flavor, which is an homage to the Japanese heritage of instant ramen. We also have Spicy Beef, which is based on an authentic dish in Taiwan, called Spicy Beef Noodle Soup. The last flavor is Tom Yum Shrimp, which is based on the Tom Yum soup from Thailand.
We currently only sell in the US, but our customer base is very diverse. It’s basically anyone who’s ever had instant ramen but probably stopped eating it as an adult, after realizing how bad it was. We’re just trying to make instant ramen for adults.
There are many debates surrounding ramen’s origins. I think the nice thing is going to every country and looking at how people design their bowls and add their toppings: it’s so unique, it’s like the culmination of their upbringing and their culture.
Ultimately, we’re trying to build a healthy Asian-American food conglomerate.
We’re starting with instant ramen, and have opportunities to expand into multiple flavors. We're not yet at the stage of openly talking about what the next product lines might look like, but we're interested in reimagining many other foods under the Asian-American food umbrella.