Ramen Vending Machines Have Made Their Way to the U.S.
You’ll See Them now but get ready for a major growth
Photo: Masaaki Komori/Getty Pictures
Semiconductor engineer Andy Lin wondered why he couldn’t get a bowl of ramen and awakened hungry in the middle of the evening. Four prototypes later, his Yo-Kai Express vending machine is dispensing steaming-hot bowls of ramen in the Metreon, a shopping and cinema complex in San Francisco. You pay Apple Purchase by credit card or using a code choose your bowl; observe a animation on the touch screen for the 45 minutes it takes for your own bowl to be produced; and then you’re all set to eat. The offerings are $11 per year and come with chopsticks a spoon and a carrier so you don’t burn your fingers transporting the bowl into a nearby table.
The vending machine provides a selection of ramen noodles–tonkotsu or even miso–and every one is topped with lean tender pieces of beef, corn, walnut, mushrooms and green onions. Lin expects to launch two new flavors every month, together with black garlic next on the horizon. Ramen machines have been slated to be installed in SFO, and from that point, it has globally ramen domination together with growth into Austin, Chicago, Boston, Miami and Seattle.
Lin has plans for different types such as beef and chicken pho, rice dishes, soup dumplings, beef noodle soup that is Taiwanese, and much more. The enterprise’s chief culinary officer is a chef as well as the restaurateur behind one of San Francisco’s Michelin-star sushi bars, and Lin prides itself using real, fresh ingredients and custom-made ramen noodles. Bearing this in mind, he is eager to set up machines in health care facilities, universities, technology hotels and companies–basically, anywhere people may want a quick hot and very affordable meal.
If you’re not close to the Metreon, you can purchase dishes out of Grubhub in San Francisco for delivery. However, Lin, who’s always thinking ahead, sees selling ramen kits in grocery stores and is now likely to enter franchising the vending machines as well. The only thing that the engineer has not yet solved is the way to top each bowl with a totally boiled egg.
Amy Sherman is a San Francisco-based author and cookbook writer who never says no more to a hot doughnut. Follow her Instagram in @cookingwithamy.
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