Thousands of readers voted in our Best of the Bay 2023 Readers Poll, honoring dozens of wonderful local businesses and cultural forces. Now it’s our editors’ and writers’ turn to highlight specific people and places we’ve been loving about the Bay Area. Join us to celebrate Best of the Bay and more at our 10th Annual 48 Hills Gala at Bissap Baobab on 10/26, and help keep this 49-year-old tradition alive.
We have certainly covered a lot of fledgling Bay Area snack companies here this year, but just one stands out to us for elegantly solving a worldwide problem: San Francisco’s Ramen Bae. The company makes dehydrated toppings to add to instant ramen, those packets and containers which typically come with too-few toppings and a generic vibe, no matter the product brand or country of origin.
Ramen Bae currently offers two products for mail order, the Veggie Mix (cabbage, bean curd, carrot, broccoli, bok choy, corn, shiitake mushroom, white mushroom, tofu, green onion, and roasted garlic) and the Classic Seafood and Vegetables Mix (shrimp, squid, imitation crab, fish cake, bean curd, shiitake mushroom, corn, cabbage, carrot, and green onion)—a third Spicy Garlic version is listed as “coming soon” on the website, and future plans include dropping the Chicken Mix. They’re packaged in 14-ounce bags, which contain enough toppings for around 20 bowls of ramen, and are sold for between $24.99 and $25.99, respectively.
Just like the majority of instant noodles, these toppings rehydrate in three minutes when sprinkled on top of a soup vessel that’s been filled with boiling water. They also taste pretty good if you happen to snack on a few of them straight out of the bag (which isn’t explicitly recommended, but you know you wanna).
“I made it for the adult me and I made it for the kid me,” founder and food biz newbie Jonathan Lam said in a video that shows every aspect of this business that he learned how to do himself, including product research and development, importing FDA-approved ingredients from China, figuring out how to use Photoshop, and discovering how to manage a now-popular social media presence. “I know his eyes would have lit up if he had seen this in the grocery stores.”