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Introducing the Instant Ramen
The UK’s love of oriental food continues to grow. After all, who doesn’t love a Chinese takeaway once in a while? In fact, in recent polls, Chinese food came top of all the takeaway options, which surprised many people (but not this writer). Today, however, we’re not talking about Chinese food exclusively; in fact, we’re talking about ramen from Japan.
You may not know this, but the instant ramen – or if you prefer, instant noodles – was first marketed in Japan as long ago as 1958. These days, the popular idea of ready ramen noodles onto which you pour hot water to make a sort of broth for an almost instant meal is often thought of as Chinese, but we assure you it has its origins in Japan. Today, you can buy instant ramen noodles from other countries – the Koreans offer some particularly nice varieties – and you can also add whatever you wish to your noodle dish such as soy sauce.
Let’s take a look at the best instant ramen noodle soup on the market.
The Top 10 Best Instant Ramen Noodles
1. Nong Shim Shin Gourmet Spicy Picante
As each of our choices is, well, ramen noodles, we are naturally going to repeat ourselves a little. So, what we will do is tell you about the amount you get – so that’s the value for money – plus the flavour, and then we’ll talk about what customers have said. For example, this Gourmet Spicy Picante ramen noodle soup from Nong Shim, a known brand, comes as a 20-pack, each being 4.2oz. That’s enough to make a decent lunchtime snack.
This packet of ramen noodles comes from Korea – they are experts in noodle soup dishes and this is among the best Korean instant ramen you will find – and it is very highly rated by customers. They are halal and are also suitable for vegans. The only complaints appear to be that they can be crushed in transit, and that the flavours have changed lately.
2. Nong Shim Shin Instant Noodle Cup
Another from the Korean brand, this is a handy snack-sized pack that is designed to be eaten as you would a cup a ramen noodle soup – from a cup! This is the same Gourmet Spicy flavour as above, but in smaller sachets, and comes as a 12-pack at a very sensible price. The instructions for this one say it needs 3-4 minutes before you have a tasty snack – we are getting very hungry writing these! Just add some soy sauce and enjoy.
An interesting factor about instant ramen noodles is that they are largely made from fresh ingredients. Once again these are Halal and are also suitable for vegans – that comes from a buyer, not the company – and you really can’t go wrong as a handy snack to have around. Once again, a lot of buyers are very satisfied with this product, with the few complaints being that they are too small – in which case you buy the bigger pack – and that they may be too spicy for some.
This 5-pack ramen noodle soup comes from Samyang, another popular maker of instant ramen dishes, and this is marketed as a limited edition. It is ‘2xspicy’ – so we take that to mean twice as spicy as their standard product – and is a hot chicken flavour. Each instant noodles pack is 140g, which is a standard size that makes up a decent-sized meal for one when you add the water, and they are certified halal as well as being eaten by vegans.
Now, as for that 2xSpicy claim: we found a lot of comments such as ‘wow’ and ‘definitely a regular from now on’, all commenting on the fact that these are VERY spicy and hot. Strangely enough, the few complaints are that – these are VERY spicy and hot! If hot is not your thing, these are not for you, but if it is, enjoy!
4. Nong Shim Shin Noodle Big Bowl
Back to our Korean friends at Nong Shim for this item, which again is from their Gourmet Spicy range of ramen noodle soup, and is the ‘Big Bowl’ size. These people really are among the masters at making noodle soup products, and this does not let them down. Each Big Bowl is a 114g serving, and there are 16 instant noodles in the pack. Without mentioning the price, if you consider you’re getting each serving for little more than a pound, you simply have to have some of these in your cupboard.
Fresh vegetables and a lovely flavour broth are the norm with this brand, and the product is vegetarian-friendly. There is no notice of them being halal, but as the other products from the brand are we suggest this should be. Comments have been made about the new paper cup is recyclable. The sole complaint is about too much sugar, and not liking the taste.
5. Nissin Demae Black Garlic Oil
We should point out a distinction here: instant ramen noodles may be known as ramen, but actually there is a distinction. Ramen is a noodle soup; not all the products here are soup. However, in the USA, ramen is used to describe any instant noodle product. So now you know! Nissin is the brand that invented the instant ramen meal. This black garlic oil and pork flavour version comes in 100g servings of instant noodles and as a pack of 30. That works out at a lot less than £1 per serving.
They are – despite the pork flavour – suitable for vegetarians (it says ‘artificial pork’ on the packet, although we are not sure if they are halal. This is perhaps as close as you will get to the best Japanese instant ramen.
6. Kabuto Noodles Chicken Ramen
Kabuto claims to be the ‘UK’s number 1 premium instant ramen noodle brand’. This is the chicken flavour instant ramen noodle soup, which is made from all-natural ingredients and no preservatives. There are 10 flavours to choose from in the Kabuto range – the brand is a UK one, and describes its products as ‘inspired by ramen recipes from Japan – and they are notably popular. You get 6 x 85g packets of instant noodles with this one and at the price, that works out a touch more costly than some, but by no means expensive.
7. Samyang Hot Chicken Carbonara Limited Edition
Before you even get to eat the Samyang range, the packaging will gran your attention. Typically Korean and a lot of fun, the bright colours alone are enough to make us smile, and this is another ‘limited edition’ from one of the top brands in the ramen noodles market. This one is spicy chicken, which is a favourite for many, and you get a pack of 5 x 130g sachets of instant noodles for your money – indeed, not very much money at all.
These are suitable for vegetarians, and as the other, we have chosen from this brand is halal we shall say this one may be, too, and they are the usual easy to make, add the water concoction. When doing our research we found that people thought they were very hot. Once again, the major complaints are that they are very hot! We don’t understand someone buying a product labelled ‘hot chicken’ and then finding them too hot.
8. Nissin Instant Noodle Chicken Ramen
We are a bit confused by this ramen product. First, it comes from the originators of the noodle dish, Nissin, and indeed it is promoted as ‘The Origin’. We take this to mean that this is the original flavour ramen dish, which is all good. Yet, the description is very vague – not uncommon with genuine Japanese products – and the price is very high. We will assume that, give others in the range do so, this comes as a pack of 10 of instant noodles. It’s still expensive at that price.
‘Amazing’, ‘Delicious’ and ‘not overly salty’ are some of the positive comments we found when doing our research.
9. Nissin Tokyo Soy Sauce Flavour
As we have already said, Nissin was first on the market with instant ramen noodles products and remains a market-leader in the sector today. It’s worth pointing out that while this is an authentic Japanese ramen dish, these days they are manufactured in Europe. That doesn’t stop them being delicious! This is a 30-pack purchase of instant noodles, with each serving being 100g, and is Tokyo Soy Sauce flavour. This noodle soup is as authentic as it gets, but it might not be to everyone’s taste.
You get 30 servings, which is not bad at all, and while there are only a few customer reviews so far, everyone is 4-star or above, and they mostly comment on the excellent flavour. We can’t comment on whether these are vegetarian and halal as we don’t have that information, but as others from the Nissin brand are, these may well also be.
10. Nong Shim Instant Noodles
The final entry on our instant ramen noodles list is another from the Korean Nong Shim brand. We are told the brand name means ‘Country Heart’; we just thought you might want to know. This is an authentic and basic instant soup dish that is entirely vegetables. It’s suitable for vegans, and many have commented on how good they taste. Ready in a few minutes, this simple and yet satisfying dish is also very cheap to buy.
In this package you get 20 packs of 112g servings of instant noodles, which works out at around 80p per dish. That’s really not a lot to pay for a healthy, decent snack. Notably, 94% of customers rate these noodles as 4-star and above. The sole dissenter even gives it 3-stars, the complaint being it’s not spicy enough, but adding that it is very tasty. If it’s simple snacks for when you need something quick you are looking for, remember Country Heart!
So, there you have it, our list of the best instant ramen noodles on the market, and from some of the top, authentic brands in the business. But, which is for you? This could be a very difficult choice, and we have a few words to add before we give you our verdict.
11. Mama Tom Yum Goong Spicy Shrimp Soup Bowl
Tom Yum isn’t quite ramen noodles, but we wanted to include it as its a very popular dish that has to be one of my favourites. I first had it when visiting Malaysia in a food court and I absolutely loved it. My wife now makes it at home quite a lot but if we are feeling lazy then its always handy to have a packet of instant Tom Yum Soup in.
Reviews of this product are good with most saying that for instant Tom Yum its pretty decent!
Another one thats not quite ramen but one we felt we had to include as its a favourite with people that love oriental instant noodles. Mi Goreng is actually an Indonesian dish that can be very spicy. I once tried it (not this packet) and it was labelled as not being that spicy but it really set my mouth on fire!
This particular set is sold as BBQ spicy and you get 24 packets in the box.
How bad is instant ramen for you?
Instant ramen should not be labelled as bad for you. It just does not contain much nutritional value. Eat it every now and again as a treat but it should not be something you should eat every day for lunch. For more information check out Health Line.
Is there a healthy instant ramen?
Most instant ramens are not that healthy, but not particularly bad, its just as we mentioned above they do not contain that many nutrients. However, they are getting better and we found this article here that talks about some of the new healthy instant ramen choices that are now available.
How can you make instant ramen better?
There are a ton of ways to make it better and that could be a whole article on its own but heres some of the things you could do.
- Add a fried egg on top
- Add some cooked meat such as chicken
- Add peanut butter
- Add cheese!
- Add umami soy sauce
- Boil it up in broth water rather than just normal water
- Add a dash of lime
- Use coconut milk rather than water
- Add pepper
For more details, take a look at ScoopWoop.
A Buying Guide – Instant Ramen Noodles
Searching for the best spicy instant noodles, or indeed the best Japanese instant ramen, led us on a path that taught us a lot about these seemingly simple dishes. In the main, that is that they are not quite as simple as you may think.
The sheer range of oriental flavours – from vegetable to chicken through pork, soy sauce and more – and the different levels of spiciness, basically from not at all to extremely hot, mean that there is bound to be an instant ramen product here that appeals to everyone.
What we will say is, if you’re going to try one of these, before you buy – for example – a 20 or 30-pack, try and find a single one of the same brand and flavour, perhaps in an Asian supermarket, and try it for taste before buying in bulk online.
Also, if something is labelled or described as ‘hot and spicy’, expect it to be so. There are a surprising number of complaints that the product was too hot and spicy, despite it being clear that this was the point.
Which is best to buy? Let’s have a look at our choice.
Quite simply, we can’t give you a single option when it comes to the best Korean instant ramen, or any best instant ramen UK buyers might want to try. This is because everyone has their own taste. Personally, we like a mild spicy flavour, others like a very hot version, and many of you are probably looking for a vegetable noodle soup. So, to pick one would not be helping anyone.
If we had to choose one as being the best for value for money, great flavour and an authentic Korean ramen dish, we’d recommend the Nong Shim Shin Gourmet Spicy Picante, but please try others before you splash out on a multi-pack.
That’s us done here, so try some tasty instant ramen dishes and stock up for when hunger strikes!