Now You Can Get Ramen from a Vending Machine

Your noodle cravings can now be satisfied round-the-clock — and you don’t even have to interact with a human.

Ramen vending machines are such a genius idea you have to wonder why no one thought to bring them to the United States before. (They’re already a thing in China.) No matter. Now someone has.

A semiconductor engineer named Andy Lin set out, three years ago, to make sure that Americans craving a hot, steaming bowl of fresh ramen could get it 24/7, without even having to interact with another human being, TastingTable reports.

Lin’s Yo-Kai Express vending machines are now providing bowls of ramen noodles and broth to the good people of San Francisco at a shopping and cinema complex called the Metreon, with plans for a broader roll-out, first at other San Fran locations (three machines will soon be operable at San Francisco International Airport) and then to cities across the country.

What’s more, Lin told SFGATE, the high-end, piping-hot vending-machine concept may be expanded to include other “international gourmet food” – like risottos or curries.

Cool, right? But how does it work? Well, as this promotional video demonstrates, first you choose your type of ramen (Tonkotsu or Miso), then you choose your method of payment (Apple Pay, Credit Card or Promotion Code), then you wait 45 seconds, grab your chopsticks (and/or spoon) and your ramen (it comes with a handy carrier to make sure you don’t burn yourself between machine and table) and then – voila! – you’ve got yourself a delicious meal.

Each bowl will set you back $10.99 plus tax, and to be clear, we’re not talking your low-end packaged ramen here. The Yo-Kai Express ramen offerings, which will expand from the original two in the near future (next up: black garlic oil ramen), have been overseen by a Michelin-star sushi bar chef, according to TastingTable, and employ fresh ingredients and real, house-made ramen noodles.

Unfortunately, the early reviews have not been stellar: A San Francisco Chronicle food writer declared the vending machine ramen to be “not bad ” and a writer for SFGATE labeled it “incredibly mediocre.”

But hey, it’s ramen noodles from a vending machine, people! Expectations should probably be adjusted accordingly.

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