Koka is a brand of instant noodles, manufactured by Tat Hui Foods, a company founded in Singapore in 1986.
Like most instant noodle brands, Koka is available in a variety of flavors in the form of packets, bowls, and cup noodles. What sets them apart from other brands, is that they air-fry their noodles rather than deep-frying them in the typical Asian fashion.
In this article, we will look at the different flavors of Koka Noodles, and find out which ones are vegan.
Which Koka Noodle Flavors Are Vegan?
As I’ve briefly mentioned, Koka is available in three forms: packets, bowls, and cups.
In addition, they have different product lines, with the most prominent being their Original line, which also has a wider variety of flavors.
The Original packets have eleven flavors, which include Chicken, Curry, Masala, Mi Goreng, Mushroom, Prawn, Spicy Stir-Fried, Tom Yum, Tomato, Vegetable, and Beef flavors.
The Original bowls have five flavors, namely Mushroom, Chicken, Seafood, Tom Yum, and Beef flavors.
The Original cups come in ten flavors, including Chicken & Corn, Mushroom, Curry, Seafood, Tom Yum, Vegetable, Beef, Chicken, and Tomato.
Out of all the Original flavors, only the Seafood (flavors) are not suitable for vegans. Surprisingly, every other flavor, including Chicken and Beef flavors does not contain any animal ingredients!
For instance, the ingredients within Koka’s Beef flavor are the following:
- Wheat Flour
- Palm Oil
- Seasoning: Salt, Sugar, Hydrolysed Soy Protein, Beef Flavoring (contains Celery), Flavour Enhancer (E621), Chives, and Spices.
None of the ingredients are derived from animals. You might question ingredients such as beef flavoring and E621, but those are vegan-friendly.
What is E621 & Is It Vegan?
E621 is a white, odorless, crystalline powder commonly used as a food additive, which is commonly referred to as MGS or Monosodium Glutamate.
It is made by fermenting carbohydrates such as sugar beet, sugar cane, and molasses, so it’s completely vegan.
It’s an Umami substance that intensifies the meaty, savory flavor of food, making it much tastier, and it’s incredibly important in products such as Koka Noodles as it brings out a meaty flavor in their vegan noodles.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has classified E621 as a food ingredient that’s “generally recognized as safe,” but there’s still a lot of controversy surrounding it.
Why Is Beef Flavoring Vegan?
To bring out the flavor of beef in meatless foods, food scientists attempt to mimic the chemistry found in certain meat profiles, using three different things:
- Maillard reaction – which requires sugars, amino acids, yeast extracts, etc;
- Volatile compounds – that help deliver the overall flavor profile, and many of these compounds go through a processing stage to adapt into a rounder meat flavor;
- Aroma and texture balance – given that taste perception uses several senses, mimicking a high-quality meat flavor means that you have to think beyond flavor and also take into account how a particular type of meat might feel.
In other words, creating a meaty flavor without meat involves combining different elements and adjusting them, a process that has been taking decades to develop.
Due to the increasing demand for products that “taste like meat”, food scientists synthetically create compounds that simulate the taste of meat by using certain properties contained in plants.
Why Aren’t Koka’s ‘Seafood’ Flavors Vegan?
Among the different flavors in their Original line, you can find flavors such as Seafood and Prawn, which are not suitable for vegans.
They’re not vegan because they contain an ingredient called “prawn powder,” which is essentially grounded prawn.
As such, both Seafood and Prawn flavors cannot be deemed vegan.
Fortunately, most Original Koka Noodles are suitable for vegans, except for their seafood-based flavors, which contain “ground prawn” or “prawn powder”.
Even flavors such as Beef and Chicken are suitable for vegans, according to Koka.