When Hans Lienesch was 12 years old, a trip to the International District Uwajimaya changed his life. Their massive selection of instant noodles—a vision!—is the origin of the Ramen Rater, which posted its 1,000th review today, on Lienesch’s 38th birthday. (He now lives in Edmonds, within walking distance of a 99 Ranch and a Boo Han Market, though people all over the world mail him packets to try.)
The Rater doesn’t just pour boiling water into a foam cup and call it a day, though. His photos look closer to the picture on the packet itself, served on real dishes with the appropriate accompaniments: meat, fresh veggies, runny eggs. In his 1,000th review, for example, of Maruchan Yakisoba Beef Taco Flavor—probably horrific if eaten straight out of the microwave, as most people would—the noodles are drained and served with spiced ground beef, minced garlic, tortilla chips, iceberg lettuce, cheese, tomatoes, sour cream, and homemade guacamole. “Awesome!” he exclaims. “Tastes kind of like chili cheese fries!” Beef Taco scores 4.25 stars out of five. To those who complain about his impure methodology, his website responds: “I’m eating this as a meal—this ain’t no wine tasting, people!”
While one wonders if he’s checked his sodium levels lately, you have to admire his dedication: Of the 1,000 reviews, 943 were written after June of 2010, when he abandoned the ramen-unfriendly Atkins diet, and he’s been demystifying the great wall of noodle ever since. Happy birthday and happy 1,000th, Ramen Rater!