Tag Archives: instant ramen

Top Ten Best Instant Noodles Of All Time 2019

Top Ten Best Instant Noodles Of All Time 2019

This is my list of my all time favorites (compiled up to review #3132). These are the best and most memorable varieties – some you’ll be able to find easily, some you won’t. In the images you see, you’ll see garnished bowls of noodles. Note – reviewing is done BEFORE products have anything externally added by myself, and I follow directions on the package – for better or for worse. I should also note that going forward, the official last day for companies to submit varieties to be considered for the annual top ten will be January 31st. That’s enough – let’s have a look at The Ramen Rater’s Top Ten Instant Noodles Of All Time 2019 Edition!

The Ramen Rater’s Top Ten Instant Noodles Of All Time 2019 Edition

Video Presentation

A special presentation of The Ramen Rater’s Top Ten Instant Noodles Of All Time 2019 Edition.

The Ramen Rater’s Top Ten Instant Noodles Of All Time 2019 Edition

#10: Indomie Real Meat Mi Instan Goreng Rendang – Indonesia

Top Ten Best Instant Noodles Of All Time 2019

The first Indomie variety on the list in years and it’s really amazing. Basically take their Mi Goreng Rendang and include a sachet of real rendang in a retort pouch. This comes after recently hearing that Indomie Rendang is hard to find here in the United States, something I was surprised to hear since it’s such a popular product and such a good one. Original review

#9: Sau Tao Tom Yum Kung Flavour Ramen – Hong Kong

Top Ten Best Instant Noodles Of All Time 2019

I’ve become enamored and thrilled with the straight ramen noodle varieties in recent years – especially ones from Hong Kong which have been on the last two The Ramen Rater’s Top Ten Instant Noodles Of All Time lists. This is Sau Tao’s first appearance on the list. A Thai flavor is delivered masterfully – broth has a great richness and crispness of tom yum kung – spicy and lemongrass and shrimp notes play together very well. Original review

#8: Mom’s Dry Noodle Dan Dan Noodle – Taiwan

Top Ten Best Instant Noodles Of All Time 2019

It’s second year on The Ramen Rater’s Top Ten Instant Noodles Of All Time, Mom’s Dry Noodles’ Dan Dan Noodle is just wonderful stuff. A broth-free offering with gourmet Taiwanese dry noodles, and myriad sauces that harmonize, salty, spicy, sweet and other flavors masterfully. Flavorful and deep. Original review

#7: Red Chef Green Tom Yum Soup Noodles – Malaysia

Top Ten Best Instant Noodles Of All Time 2019

Another one returning to The Ramen Rater’s Top Ten Instant Noodles Of All Time list, Red Chef’s Green Tom Yum Soup Noodles feature a fried noodle with a great mouthfeel and quantity. They work well with the broth which is like a mashup of tom yum and green curry. The spiciness and flavors are just great – it might seem like a strange gimmicky kind of thing but definitely not. I love the new and this is a new flavor for the instant noodle world. Original review

#6: Prima Taste Singapore Curry Wholegrain La Mian – Singapore

Top Ten Best Instant Noodles Of All Time 2019

Since a very young age when my mother would cook curried chicken livers over rice, I’ve absolutely loved curry. This one is just mind blowing and has been on the top ten for years and years. The noodles are thick and chewy  – and have a rustic kind of feel to them. Marry that to the broth which comes from a large sachet of curry paste and one full of coconut milk powder, you end up with a rich, luxuriant experience you’ll love. I should note they also have a version with non-wholegrain noodles which is also very impressive. Original review

#5: CarJEN Nyonya Curry Laksa – Malaysia

Top Ten Best Instant Noodles Of All Time 2019

Back again with their rich curry noodle, CarJEN brings something very special to the table in their Nyonya Curry Laksa. You dip the paste seen on the spoon into the broth to flavor it and it has little bits of shrimp in there that really are a nice addition. Sweetness, spiciness, richness from coconut milk powder, and a nice plump noodle makes this so tasty and memorable. Original Review

#4: A-Sha Gourmet Braised Beef Noodle Soup – Taiwan

The Ramen Rater's Top Ten Instant Noodles Of All Time 2019 Edition

This is the highest position a Taiwanese variety has achieved in The Ramen Rater’s Top Ten Instant Noodles Of All Time before – congratulations, Taiwan! For a long time, I’ve really enjoyed this style of noodle from Taiwan. It’s wide, with a center line which is thicker, and the sides are thinner – which gives them a very unique and wonderful mouthfeel. I’ve also always thought that these would just sing is in a broth (usually they are presented with a combination of sauces but no broth). The soup is rich with a strong beef flavor and hint of Sichuan peppercorn that do not overwhelm. The nice part is the inclusion of real beef in here. It should be noted that there is a special version of this that comes out during Lunar New Year which includes Wagyu beef – very expensive at a whopping $15USD per serving!, but very tasty as well. Original review

#3: Liangchengmei Biang Biang Men – China

The Ramen Rater's Top Ten Instant Noodles Of All Time 2019 Edition

My wife Kit saw this while we were up in Canada and it piqued my curiosity so thought hey let’s give it a try. Noodles are very broad – over an inch. The flavoring is just superb – to use a word I normally don’t, this is yummy. What’s interesting too is that they included meat – at least I thought it was meat – it’s made from soy protein! Unique, delicious, and the highest a Chinese variety has achieved on The Ramen Rater’s Top Ten Instant Noodles Of All Time to date. Congratulations! Original review

#2: Red Chef Spicy Sakura Prawn Soup Noodles – Malaysia

The Ramen Rater's Top Ten Instant Noodles Of All Time 2019 Edition

Let the prawn-slaught begin! Returning to the #2 spot this year, we have a Red Chef variety that just gives and gives when it comes to sweet and savory prawn flavor. This umami bomb has a nice chewy noodle that is complimented by just the sweetest, strongest prawn broth with an excellent thickness and just the right amount of spiciness. What’s more they include a sachet of crispy onions to put on top that round things out so well. If you want to have a prawn freak out, this is an indispensable tool. Original review

#1: Prima Taste Singapore Wholegrain Laksa La Mian — Singapore

The Ramen Rater's Top Ten Instant Noodles Of All Time 2019 Edition

For the fourth year in a row, Prima Taste wins with it’s excellent Wholegrain Laksa. If  abandoned on an island with only a life supply of instant noodles, I’d want them to be these, period. Hearty artisan noodles which are thick and of good quantity are combined with a broth which has a strong flavor and richness from coconut milk powder. A flavorful and striking noodle dish. Original review

What’s New

Instant Noodle Recipe Time

The Ramen Rater's Top Ten Instant Noodles Of All Time 2019 Edition

In the last year, I’ve decided to start doing videos for each on of my reviews and as of April 3rd, I’ve done 295 episodes. You can watch me cook and garnish everything as I sit at my stove. People have commented ‘why do you sit?’ Well, it’s a lot easier to record the show that way. Why do you wear sunglasses all the time? I’m legally blind and light sensitive. I answer a lot of questions about what I do from reader questions as well as talk about what I’m up to and give opinions and chatter about anything that crosses my mind. The show comes out every single day at 2pm Seattle time. Check out the show here.

The Chocolate Break

The Ramen Rater's Top Ten Instant Noodles Of All Time 2019 Edition

What began as something to try once has become a project my wife Kit and I do regularly. The Chocolate Break is where we try chocolate from around the world – and give our opinions on them. I’m proud to announce that www.thechocolatebreak.com is up and has rundowns of every single episode! Check it out and let us know what you think!

Big Changes For Me

The Ramen Rater's Top Ten Instant Noodles Of All Time 2019 Edition

Some of you have been noticing I’ve been losing weight – thank you! In fact I’ve been working hard on that. Reviews I do are usually involving me eating maybe 5% of a bowl of noodles, if that. Everything else goes down the drain.

I keep my regime to around 1200~1500 calories a day. I’ve also been doing a lot of walking with my daughter Miriam. With her stroller decked out with lots of lights and a really loud speaker (I usually play a lot of Primus, Herbie Hancock, Sepultura, Deodato, and Tobacco), we walk all over town. My feet hurt, too! If you put together our walking from April 1st and April 2nd, it comes to 21.12 miles (33.989km)! No, that is NOT a typo. My doctor told me I had high cholesterol back in October and I decided to make some changes. I’ll find out how I’ve done later this month and let you guys know how I’ve done so far.

Umai Crate: Japanese Instant Ramen Box – November 2018 – Unboxing Time

Umai Crate: Japanese Instant Ramen Box – November 2018 – Unboxing Time

Another month, another box! We have a new Umai Crate to unbox!  Japan Crate curates these and there’s always something interesting going on in these boxes – usually quite a few somethings! Coupon code below – check it out!

Umai Crate: Japanese Instant Ramen Box – November 2018 – Unboxing Time

Thank you – looking forward to reviewing these! So we have a coupon code and a link here for you – Get yours here: http://japancrate.com?tap_a=12827-4134c1&tap_s=185180-a588e7
Coupon code: THERAMENRATER

Unboxing Time: Instant Ramen From Hobby Link Japan

Unboxing Time: Instant Ramen From Hobby Link Japan

Recently I was contacted by a Japanese company called Hobby Link Japan. They asked if I would be interested in picking some varieties from their instant ramen selection to show everyone and I thought this would be pretty cool. Well, let’s open up this box and see what I picked!

Unboxing Time: Instant Ramen From Hobby Link Japan – Japan

What’s interesting here are that I’ve never seen many of these varieties. They shipped them very quickly – got here in a couple days, plus they were in absolutely pristine condition which is always nice. Kind of like I walked to a local store and bought them and brought them home. If you look in the video’s description, all of the different varieties I show are directly linked so you can check ’em out if you like. They’ve got a lot of other things aside from instant ramen – one that caught my eye was a zombie pencil sharpener where you stick the pencil in it’s eye and twist. There’s a button on the back you can move around and it pushes the shaving out the mouth. Bizarre. I love it. Check out Hobby Link Japan – it’s pretty neat! Thank you for the samples!

The Ramen Rater’s Seventh Annual Momofuku Ando Day

Momofuku Ando The Ramen Rater's Seventh Annual Momofuku Ando Day

Seven years ago I first heard about Momofuku Ando Day. I was curious about it and very happy it existed – so much so that I decided that since I devote so much time to instant noodles and reviewing them, I ought to pay homage to their creator.

The Ramen Rater’s Seventh Annual Momofuku Ando Day

Today has a special meaning to me. I grew up in a place where the exotic seemed very much out of reach. In the end, the instant noodle saved me from what I considered the mundane and boring. Flavors and images from far flung places around the world at a low price. Mr. Ando’s invention has allowed me to try something new every day, had the added side effect of visiting places I’d never thought I’d see, and enjoy learning about other cultures. I salute you, Mr. Ando and your invention out of necessity. The instant noodle was born out of the hope to feed people and it has done that – especially in times of crisis and disaster. A fine legacy to leave the world.

Here’s lots of info from Wikipedia including invention timeline and early life.

Early life and education

Ando was born Go Pek-Hok (Chinese吳百福Pe̍h-ōe-jīGô͘ Pek-hok) in 1910 into a wealthy Taiwanese family in Kagi-chō (Japanese嘉義廳, modern-day Chiayi County), Japanese-era Taiwan, and raised by his grandparents within the city walls of Tainan-chō (臺南廳Tainan) following the deaths of his parents.[1] His grandparents owned a small textiles store, which inspired him, at the age of 22, to start his own textiles company, using 190,000 yen, in Eiraku-chō (永樂町), Daitōtei, Taihoku (Taipei).

In 1933, Ando traveled to Osaka where he established a clothing company while studying economics at Ritsumeikan University.[1]

Career

Founding Nissin

After World War II, Japan lost Taiwan as its territory and Ando as a Taiwanese had to choose between becoming a citizen of the Republic of China (Taiwan) or remaining a Japanese subject. Ando chose the former in order to keep his ancestral properties in Taiwan (since all Japanese nationals had to forfeit their properties in Taiwan). However, Ando remained in Japan.

He was convicted of tax evasion in 1948 and served two years in jail. In his biography, Ando said he had provided scholarships for students, which at the time was a form of tax evasion. After he lost his company due to a chain reaction bankruptcy, Ando founded what was to become Nissin in IkedaOsaka, Japan, starting off as a small family-run company producing salt.

Invention of Chicken Ramen

Momofuku Ando The Ramen Rater's Seventh Annual Momofuku Ando Day

 

A recreation of Ando’s Workshop at the Momofuku Andō Instant Ramen Museum.

With Japan still suffering from a shortage of food in the post-war era, the Ministry of Health tried to encourage people to eat bread made from wheat flour that was supplied by the United States. Ando wondered why bread was recommended instead of noodles, which were more familiar to the Japanese. The Ministry’s response was that noodle companies were too small and unstable to satisfy supply needs, so Ando decided to develop the production of noodles by himself. The experience convinced him that “Peace will come to the world when the people have enough to eat.”[2]

On August 25, 1958, at the age of 48, and after months of trial and error experimentation to perfect his flash-frying method, Ando marketed the first package of precooked instant noodles. The original chicken flavor is called Chikin Ramen. It was originally considered a luxury item with a price of ¥35,[3] around six times that of traditional udon and soba noodles at the time. As of 2016, Chicken Ramen is still sold in Japan and now retails for around ¥120, or approximately one third the price of the cheapest bowl of noodles in a Japanese restaurant.

Cup o’ Noodles invention

Momofuku Ando The Ramen Rater's Seventh Annual Momofuku Ando Day

 

Nissin Cup Noodles (1971 ~)

According to The Financial Times, Ando’s invention of Cup Noodles in 1971, at the age of 61, helped spark the popularity of instant noodles overseas. He had observed that Americans ate noodles by breaking the noodles in half, putting them into a cup, and pouring hot water over the noodles. They also ate them with a fork instead of chopsticks. Ando was inspired, and felt that a Styrofoam cup—with a narrower bottom than the top—would be the ideal vessel for holding noodles and keeping them warm. Eating the noodles would then be as easy as opening the lid, adding hot water and waiting. This simplicity, efficiency and low price of Cup Noodles went on to transform Nissin’s fortunes.[4]

Ando began the sales of his most famous product, Cup Noodle (カップヌードル Kappu Nūdoru), on September 18, 1971 with the idea of providing a waterproof polystyrene container.[5] As prices dropped, instant ramen soon became a booming business. Worldwide demand reached 98 billion servings in 2009.[6]

Industry memberships

In 1964, seeking a way to promote the instant noodle industry, Ando founded the Instant Food Industry Association, which set guidelines for fair competition and product quality, introducing several industry standards such as the inclusion of production dates on packaging and the “fill to” line. He was also the chairman of the International Ramen Manufacturers’ Association.

Personal life and death

Momofuku Ando The Ramen Rater's Seventh Annual Momofuku Ando Day

 

Silver statue of Momofuku Ando

In 1966, Ando naturalized through marriage and became a Japanese citizen. “Momofuku” is the Japanese reading of his Taiwanese given name (百福Pek-hok), while Andō (安藤) is the last name of his Japanese wife.

Ando died of heart failure on January 5, 2007 at a hospital in IkedaOsaka Prefecture at the age of 96.[2]

Ando was survived by his wife Masako, two sons and a daughter. Ando claimed that the secret of his long life was playing golf and eating Chicken ramen almost every day. He was said to have eaten instant ramen until the day he died.[7][8]

Honors

Momofuku Ando was repeatedly honored with medals by the Japanese government and the emperor, including The Order of the Rising Sun, Gold and Silver Star, Second Class, in 2002 which is the second most prestigious Japanese decoration for Japanese civilians.

Medal of Honor with Blue Ribbon (1977)

Order of the Sacred Treasure, Second Class, Gold and Silver Star (1982)

Medal of Honor with Purple Ribbon (1983)

Director-General of the Science and Technology Agency “Distinguished Service Award” (1992)

Order of the Rising Sun, Second Class, Gold and Silver Star (2002)

Foreign decoration

Order of the Direkgunabhorn of Thailand, Fourth Class, (2001)[9]

Order of precedence

Senior fourth rank (2007, posthumous)of the say

Commemoration

The Momofuku Ando Instant Ramen Museum is named after him.

In 2015Google placed a doodle on its main web page commemorating his birthday on March 5.[10]

The name of the Momofuku restaurants in the United States alludes to Momofuku Ando.[11]

 

The Ramen Rater’s Bottom Ten Instant Noodles Of All Time 2016 Edition

A while back, somebody asked me if since I have top ten lists, what about a ‘bottom ten’ list? Well, when I was asked that, I was a little leery at first and then figured hey – why not. That’s what we have here. In it’s fourth iteration since 2013, here are my very least favorite varieties I’ve samples out over over 2,000 reviews. I should note that I see these often and so I’m sure many of you will disagree with me. It’s kind of crazy – some people get really offended at my picks. But these are my PERSONAL least favorite instant noodles; don’t take it personally… Geez… Without further ado, let’s dig in to The Ramen Rater’s Bottom Ten Instant Noodles Of All Time 2016 Edition!

A video version of this review.

#10: Western Family Beef Flavour Instant Noodles – Canada

After 3 minutes of cooking, the noodles weren’t very good at all. It’s like they had a film on the outside that just didn’t ring right in my mouth. The flavor of the broth was as bland as can be. It’s rare that I feel like I need to either dump salt or soy sauce into an instant noodle broth. There is no merit here. – Original review

#9: Thai Smile Mushroom Rice Noodle Soup Bowl – Thailand

The rice noodles didn’t hydrate as well as they should have in the 3 minutes called for; they were quite tough. After a minute or so longer however they got softer. The flavor was this oddly sweet kind of thing; it didn’t scream mushroom taste to me. The supplied bits of vegetable hydrated well, except the mushroom which were like hard pieces of wood. – Original review

#8: Paldo Green Tea Chlorella Noodles – South Korea

While this company makes some noodles I really enjoy, they also make this one which I deplore. It’s just got such a funky flavor to it and a smell I can’t take. Original review

#7: Fu Chang Chinese Noodle Company Pork, Seafood & Noodles Combo – United States

The noodles in this one were really mushy, and while it had a retort pouch with meat and seafood, it was really nasty. Original review here

#6: Maruchan Spicy Tomato Salsa Ramen – Japan

The noodles hydrated very nicely and have a standard flatness and thin character. The flavor was unfortunately something of a departure. It was a kind of spicy and putrid tomato melange – like homemade salsa left out overnight from binge drinking with a crew of chainsmokers – which just tastes like pure trainwreck. The bits of potato were interesting and hydrated well enough though – kind of liked that they had potato skins on. But yeah – this was just a fusion that should come undone. Original review

#5: Vedan Wei Wei A Instant Noodles Chicken Flavor – Taiwan

The noodles were very ho-hum. While they hydrated well, they seemed like they just didn’t belong in the ‘food’ group; spongy and riddled with sadness. As for chicken flavor, that was definitely absent. I was really happy about the vegetables, but they were mushy. Original review

#4: Koyo Reduced Sodium Garlic & Pepper Ramen – United States

The noodles are thick – more like ramyun. They have an alright chew; although they seem almost doughy- and not Hakata style ramen noodle doughy. The broth does taste of garlic and pepper, but it’s so very bland. It really is like you could boil some pepper and a clove of garlic and achieve the same results. Not at all to my liking. Original review

#3: Urban Noodle Authentic Street Food Black Bean – United Kingdom

The noodles in this one were flat instead of round. They came out very nicely. The flavoring however was just strange. I expected maybe something of a Korean-Chinese fusion dish, but those are hearty and rich and not savory and sweet. In fact, this one was a little too sweet for me. The thinly sliced bamboo shoots don’t work for me either; leaving them whole would be nicer I think. What’s more, it has a kind of chemically aftertaste; like chlorine or soap. Original review

#2: One Dish Asia Japanese Ramen Noodle – United States

This one comes with a fresh noodle pouch. They didn’t have a very fresh texture; more mushy. The bamboo shoots (which more resembled overcooked carrot and I had to consult the ingredients to figure what they were) were mushy as well. The broth had an acidic and a flavor reminiscent of the teriyaki flavor I’ve encountered in bad teriyaki instant flavors. A hot mess. Original review here

#1: Baijia Single Noble Black Bone Chicken Flavor Instant Sweet Potato Noodles – China

Here is my least favorite variety of all. Retaining it’s #1 ranking again this year, its slimy sweet potato noodles, thick, greasy broth and horrid veggies that didn’t hydrate well was just a flavor, texture, and complete food hole nightmare for me.. This was just horrible stuff that I couldn’t stand. Original review here

Momofuku Ando’s 105th Birthday

March 5th, 2015 would have been Momofuku Ando’s 105th birthday! Google has honored the inventor of the instant noodle by putting up these alternate logos – I will explain them below.

This is a animation of the birth of the instant noodle. Ando spent hours and days and weeks trying to figure out how to make the instant noodle. He watched his wife making tempura one day and it hit him; frying. When you fry a cooked noodle, it extrudes the water and leaves tiny holes. When re-introduced to hot water, they spring back to life!

To be honest, I was a little unclear on this one at first. It has been said that after research, it was found that 1 minute wasn’t enough time to get the appetite going and 5 minutes too long. 3 minutes is the ipso-facto standard steeping time for instant noodles.

In 1971, the Nissin Cup Noodle was born. Ando saw businessmen on a flight putting chunks of instant noodle in foam cups usually used for coffee with some hot water. He decided a product made this way would be convenient for people. The research began. The noodle block is suspended in the cup midway to allow hot water to permeate the noodles above and below!

Outer space?! Yep! Ando’s crowning achievement was ‘Space Ram’ – an instant noodle astronauts could enjoy in outer space.

If you’d like to see some special reviews, check out Nissin Chikin Ramen – it’s exactly the same as it was when released in 1958. I also did a special video review of the Nissin Emergency Cup Noodle this year for The Ramen Rater’s 4th Annual Momofuku Ando Day! Happy Birthday Mr. Ando – you changed my life!

Case Study: Beef Top Ramen & Flamin’ Hot Cheetos

On Friday, I conducted a little experiment: let’s have a look at what happens when we look at 6 months of images from instagram that have the hashtag #topramen. What I found were many comparisons of instant noodles to hair, mentions of poverty and many images of what people liked to pair with their instant noodles.

Here are just a few of the imasges I found where instant noodles and Flamin’ Hot Cheetos were paired. I thought this a very interesting phenomena, so I figured I ought to see what happens when I unite the two in The Ramen Rater HQ.

Off to the store. As you can see, we got beef Top Ramen and this was the smallest bag of Flamin’ Hot Cheetos we could find at the store. I’ll go over both of these products individually, starting with the Top Ramen. Then I’ll put them together. Let us begin.

I’ve noticed that in the past year, Nissin has updated the package design for it’s line of Top Ramen products. In the last month, I also noticed they updated the packaging for their Chow Mein trays as well as their Big Cup Noodles. Curious if they will be changing the regular Cup Noodles outer packaging design.

Here is the back of the package (click image to enlarge). Contains beef fat. To prepare, add noodle block to 2 cups of boiling water and cook for 3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add in contents of soup base sachet and stir. Enjoy!

Here’s the noodle block. You may notice that it looks like a sandwich; like it’s folded over. That’s actually exactly right – at a point in the production process, lengths of instant noodles are cut and folded over before being fried.

The iconic domestic soup base sachet.

The powder is light and granular with a beef scent.

Here we have the Flamin’ Hot Cheetos. Did you know not too long ago, the packages were labeled as Chee-tos? The hyphen was removed at some point; probably a product of popular culture omitting it.

The back of the packaging (click image to enlarge). Contains milk products as well as corn. To prepare, open bag. Enjoy!

Here are Flamin’ Hot Cheetos as they appear ready to be eaten.

Finished (click image to enlarge). Added Flamin’ Hot Crunchy Cheetos, beef, cilantro and Jane’s Krazy Mixed Up Pepper. So – what’s the upshot? Well, Cheetos of the Flamin’ Hot ilk definitely go nicely here – I would wager the Flamin’ Hot Lime ones would do great too. If you eat the Cheetos right away, they add a nice crunch, however they become soggy rather quickly. The sogginess isn’t a downside though – in fact, it flavors the broth nicely. But wow – really? This is some kind of crazy late night drunken stupor abomination you’d only find here in the United States, right? Actually, not really.

First off, the instant noodle and the ‘Cheeto’ have something in common. Being fried. In the story of how the instant noodle was invented, it is said that Momofuku Ando tried for weeks to figured out how to make a quick cooking block of noodles. It was when he saw his wife making tempura that he realized that by frying the tempura batter, it extrude the water from the batter. When you think about it, the ‘Cheeto’ is a cousin of tempura – just with corn meal instead of wheat flour being the main ingredient.

But tempura in instant noodles? Sure thing! This is a disc of tempura from re view #976: Nissin Donbei Tensoba (Tempura Soba).

Here are my conclusions from this case study:

  • Cheetos in with instant noodles are not odd but logical
  • The dye from the Flamin’ Hot seasoning makes the broth look nice and red and angry, a nice touch
  • Americans have inadvertently done something very Japanese without knowing it.

Look for more case studies in the future!

The Ramen Rater’s Ten Facts About Instant Noodles 2014

I’ve recently seen a whole lot of misinformation being spewed lately about the instant noodle. Why do I care? Well, primarily because I’m really into instant noodles. I’ve been a fan of them since a child and been reviewing them since 2002. A kind of strange obsession, but there are definitely stranger ones out there. What gets me is information that is presented by news and social media sources often is really quite inept; lack of research and frankly poor quality journalism on their parts. So, I’ve decided to come out with an annual list of ten facts about instant noodles starting today! Ready? Well, here you go.

1. Instant Noodles Aren’t Full Of Wax, Nor Will They Kill You

There have been a lot of ridiculous claims made about instant noodles. The one I see most often is that they are coated with wax or plastic which keeps them separate when boiled in a pot. I’m sure most people with common sense know that boiling wax only results in one thing: melted wax. Another one is that MSG when boiled turns into a lethal cancer causing monstrosity. Nope. Although not a whole food or a health food, instant noodles aren’t really scary. They are primarily wheat flour and water, made into a dough, rolled thin, sliced into noodles, fed through a line where they’d cooked with boiling water, then fried in oil. The frying pulls out any water in them and leaves tiny holes which, when re-introduced to boiling water, cause them to spring back to life as an instant noodle. Another funny one is the video of instant noodles in someone’s stomach that is very popular. I hate to break it to everyone who’s bought into this, but I can’t think that any foodstuff that chewed up and swallowed is going to look pretty. The long and short of it is that instant noodles are just fine to eat and aren’t going to kill you.

2. Instant Noodles Are Eaten Raw And Marketed That Way Around The World

You may have as a kid crunched up a pack of instant noodles and sprinkled the seasoning on them. I remember doing that. Well, this is most definitely not an American invention by any means. In South Korea, Ottogi makes a couple of varieties – Ppushu Ppushu and Pow Crunch that are made for doing this exact thing. In India and Nepal, ‘brown’ noodles (noodles that are pre-seasoned) are often enjoyed this way – not only with a powder seasoning, but sometimes the oil mixed in as well, and added nuts, raisins or vegetables. In Taiwan, Ve Wong makes Little Prince, which are tiny bags of crushed noodles with seasonings –  seaweed and bacon flavors being two of them.

3. The World Of Instant Noodles Has Many, Many Flavors

In the United States, instant noodle flavors such as Beef, Chicken, Shrimp and Oriental are very common. Chicken seems to be quite universal, but there are so many different flavors around the world. For example in Poland, a company called Amino makes Żurek flavor, patterned after a local dish and has a smoky flavor. In the UK, Pot Noodle makes Southern Style Fried Chicken flavor. In Indonesia, Indomie makes Mi Goreng, a very popular dish which contains no broth. The regional flavors always end up in the locally sold instant noodles. What I have noticed is that this rarely happens in the United States. You might see a cheese variety, but I’ve never seen a pizza instant noodle – you have to find that by Knorr in Pakistan. I haven’t seen cheeseburger flavor here, although Nissin Japan made a noodle cup which actually had a hamburger patty in it that hydrated surprisingly well.

4. Instant Noodles Will Not Survive Until The Next Ice Age

While instant noodles do have a very long shelf life, they will go bad. Yes. It’s true. There’s usually a printed expiration date on instant noodle packs. Now as with many processed, packaged foods, they will probably be fine a bit after the expiration date. However, a lot of foreign varieties won’t be – especially ones with packaged meats. China’s Master Kong makes a beef and sauerkraut noodle bowl that comes with a little sausage in it – that’s not going to do well after a year or so. Oil can go rancid and cause the sachets to bloat – a definite warning sign to stay away after the expiration date. As with anything in life, it’s best to use common sense. If you have a worry about eating expired instant noodles, or any food for that matter, it’s probably better to pass on it and find something else to devour.

5. Why Are They Called ‘Instant?’

We’re all familiar with noodle cups – you add boiling water and wait three minutes and presto – you’ve got a meal. Well, did you know that this works the same way with a packaged instant noodle? Take a bowl, drop in the block of noodles and seasonings, add the directed amount of boiling water and cover it for three minutes. Boom – instant noodles are ready to enjoy. They are of course also cooked on a stove in a pot or in a microwave, but this method is not considered the instant way. If you cook them on the stove or in a microwave, the correct term is ‘cooking noodle.’

6. All Instant Noodles Aren’t Cooked The Same Way

Two cups of water, boil. Add noodles and seasoning sachet. Cook for three minutes. Eat. This might be one of the most common methods, but beware – there are many varieties of instant noodles and many different ways to cook them. The popular Indomie Mi Goreng is a great example. The noodles are cooked and drained, and then the seasonings are stirred in to complete the dish. Imagine if you made spaghetti and marinara sauce and didn’t drain the spaghetti. Taiwan’s Wei Lih makes one called Jah Jan Mien. You cook the noodles, then drain them, but save the liquid the noodles were boiled in. You add a seasoning sachet to the liquid to make a broth, then add a paste sachet to the noodles and stir them. You end up with a soup and brothless noodle dish in two seperate bowls. Done the wrong way, it’s really quite terrible. Done the right way however it’s extremely good. If you go exploring your Asian market shelves for instant noodles, make sure to follow the directions on those packages!

7. Instant Noodles: The Criminal Element

I try to keep up on all instant noodle related news every day through newsfeeds I get on my phone. One thing I’ve found is that people in the heat of the moment have time and time again used a boiling hot bowl of instant noodles as an object to hurl at their foes. Last month, a woman inmate in Bradenton,Florida threw a hot bowl of instant noodles at another inmate during an argument. Also in Florida, a riot broke out when a basketball game ended with the winning team not receiving three cups of instant noodles from the losing side. In Galveston, Texas, a woman held a burglar at bay with a paintball gun until police arrived – she caught him trying to steal Maruchan Ramen Noodle Soup. These kinds of crimes aren’t just isolated to the United States though. In Nigeria, an 8 year old girl got mad that the family’s housemaid hadn’t prepared her Indomie noodles quickly enough and so she poured boiling water on her. Stories of people stealing boxes of Indomie over there aren’t uncommon either.

8. Ending World Hunger And The Environment

A lot of people like the idea of eating fresh vegetables and grain fed beef amongst other things. Non processed foods are very popular as they’re quite healthy for us. But there’s one issue with this: how long can this last? With the world population surpassing 7 billion this year, we’re going to hit an impasse soon. A herd of cattle might make for some tasty beef, but you have to take in account of the fact that there are many resources required for turning them into that tasty steak. Not only that, but the cattle’s waste has an effect on the atmosphere via gasses it produces. Heirloom vegetables are very nice, but they have a much shorter shelf life than their distant hybridized cousins. The instant noodle, although less healthy than these can be a real answer to these issues. Many countries have initiatives involving fortifying them with vitamins that the population that subsists on them might not receive, making them a more nutrient rich food. Dehydrating vegetables that have shorter shelf lives allows them to reach many more with less waste as well. The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization estimates that nearly 870 million people of the 7.1 billion people in the world, or one in eight, were suffering from chronic undernourishment in 2010-2012. With such amazing things as the cellphones in our pockets that have computers built into them that surpass the power of the ones that took our astronauts to the moon such a long time ago, it seems that this problem is something we can figure out if we want to.

9. Instant Noodles For Different Seasons

In the Summertime, it’s hot and a refreshing cold drink is usually a nice thing to enjoy. Well, did you know that there are such things as cold noodles? In South Korea, Nongshim makes a variety called Doong Ji, which are cooked, and then added to a broth made with cold water. Paldo makes one called Bibim Men which are cooked drained and rinsed with cold water and a sauce is added and stirred in for a spicy and chilled meal. In Japan, cold buckwheat noodles as well as cold udon are served with soy sauce based sauces and lemony flavors for a refreshing meal.

10. Instant Noodle Cups Don’t Tip Themselves Over – No, Really

There have been a lot of stories about emergency room doctors calling for instant noodle cups to be banned or to be redesigned. A lot of people, primarily children, have been ending up in the emergency room after being given a boiling hot cup of instant noodles. The problem however isn’t the cup itself. Images of the angle required for the cups to tip over have been shown to illustrate that they are top heavy. Sure, you put pretty much anything on an unsteady surface and it will fall off. Also, if you’re crazy enough to give a small child a cup of boiling hot noodles, you’ve got a screw loose. Kids have accidents, so do adults. The simplest way to handle this one is to make sure the cup’s broth has cooled down and to pour the noodles into a bowl. You wouldn’t go to Starbuck’s and give a kid a super hot cup of coffee, would you? Common sense and taking responsibility for your actions are a clear path to victory here. If you give a kid boiling water in a cup, it’s not the cup’s fault if they get burned or scalded – it’s yours.

The Ramen Rater’s Top Ten Instant Noodle Bowls Of All Time 2014 Edition

Bowls of noodles. They’re made all around the world and are a great option for those with access to boiling water and are ‘on the go.’ Some are basic and have very little imagination to them or perks, while others are really full meals that include meat and vegetables, seafood and other niceties. I’ve review 1,410 different noodle varieties and of those, many have been bowls. Here’s a list of the best, most memorable bowls I’ve come across is my adventure in tasting.

#10 – Nissin Demae Iccho Instant Noodle With Soup Base XO Sauce Seafood Flavour – Hong Kong

The noodles in this one feature a familiar gauge and texture, however the broth is pretty stellar. It’s got a rich and hearty seafood flavor, and is augmented with a goodly amount of vegetable bits and lots of little dehydrated narutomaki. Original review here

#9 – Samyang Foods Ganjjampong – South Korea

This is what you call a ‘stir noodle.” The noodles steep in the bowl, are drained, and then a spicy seafood sauce is added. With some stirring, you have a really delicious and spicy melange of excellence. Original review here

#8 – Nissin King Spa王 (Spa Oh) Tarako Spaghetti – Japan

Here’s another one where the liquid is drained off. Tarako is a fish roe based sauce used in Japanese pasta dishes. The flavor is very good and the noodles came out just right. The seaweed bits go very nicely as well. Original review here

#7 – Nongshim Chapagetti Roasted Chajang Noodle – United States

Although originating in South Korea, Nongshim now makes these in Southern California. Chajang is a traditional Chinese black bean sauce that is wonderful with noodles and the nice part with this particular variety is that it’s the first I’ve seen in a bowl. What’s more, it’s easy to make and has excellent hearty flavor as well as great noodles. Original review here

#6 – Paldo Kokomen Spicy Chicken Flavor King Cup – South Korea

Kokomen is a South Korean ramyun with a light or white broth. It’s got a chicken and jalapeno kind of flavor that’s really quite excellent. The translation from pack to bowl is exemplary, losing none of the quality. Original review here

#5 – Acecook Comet Mori Yukino Tan-tan Men – Japan

This stuff is very red! The noodles are broad and flat. They have a very nice chew to them and are of a premium type. The broth is very rich and oily. It has a strong spiciness and is almost thick – but not in a bad way. A rich pork flavor abounds. The veggies and other bits hydrated quite nicely. Original review here

#4: Unif Man Han Feast Sichuan Chili Eel Flavor Instant Noodle – Taiwan

The noodles are flat and broad. They have a nice quality to them; not too chewy but very good for a bowl noodle. The broth is rich with a good spiciness. The added bonus with this is the eel – it’s really good! Everything is rich and hearty and it’s definitely a feast to behold and consume. Original review here

#3 – Maruchan Midori No Tanuki Instant Soba Bowl – Japan

This is a seriously excellent bowl of noodles. The buckwheat noodles have a delicate crumble that works so well here and the broth is nice and rich. The disk of tempura is a real treat. Original review here

#2 – Plats Du Chef Cuisine Adventures Chicken Phở Soup – Canada

I have to say this was a great surprise. I have had a throng of horrible Canadian instant noodles – in cups, bowls, packs – just horrible. This one is a diamond in the rough. It includes excellent rice noodles, a very tasty pho broth and to top it off, it’s got real chicken! This is a bowl to behold. Original review here

#1 – Nissin Raoh Rich Soy Sauce Flavor – Japan

Back again in the top spot is Raoh. The noodles and broth play so nicely together and the pork is quite good. A bowl of noodles to really enjoy by candlelight. Original review here

The Ramen Rater’s Top Ten Instant Noodles Of All Time 2014 Edition

2014_4_21_tta_001

Well folks, it’s that time again. Since the last list, I’ve reviewed another 335 varieties – almost one a day This list reflects the ones I’ve reviewed in the last year as well as those reviewed before that – 1,365 varieties in all. It seems to get tougher each time – so many good ones! Here’s this year’s list – the best of the best. With that, I present to you The Ramen Rater’s top Ten Instant Noodles Of All Time 2014 Edition.

#10: MAMA Instant Noodles Yentafo Tom Yum Mohfai Flavour – Thailand

Yentafo (aka yong tau foo) has a spicy and sweet flavor. The sweetness is derived from hoisin sauce and the spiciness from chillies. Seasoned brown noodles are complimented by these unique flavors as well an a nice bit of heartiness from oil. Original review here

#9: Nongshim Soon Veggie Noodle Soup – South Korea

This is the first instant noodle on the top ten to be marketed towards vegetarians. What surprised me about it was the broth had such a full flavor to it; deep and satisfying. The noodles are slightly larger in gauge than your run of the mill instant, which is common of South Korean ‘ramyun.’ Magnificent stuff! Original review here

#8: Prima Taste Singapore Chilli Crab La Mian – Singapore

Prima Taste’s third appearance in the top ten. Chilli Crab is considered the signature dish of Singapore. This is a brothless variety – excellent, chewy noodles and a sweet sauce that has a sweet, spicy and buttery taste. If you like crab, this is one to try. Original review here

#7: Mamee Chef Curry Laksa Flavour  – Malaysia

This one was a pleasant surprise. Touting Mamee’s ‘Mi Tarik’ technology to approximate the same texture as hand pulled noodles, they chewiness and gauge are really quite special. The broth has a beautiful hit of cumin that adds a richness I found delectable. Garnish included small bits of tofu puff! Original review here

#6: Paldo Cheese Noodle – South Korea

These noodles – wow. I think the best addition to South Korean ramyun has to be cheese. Well, not only is cheese included here but it’s got just the perfect notes of spiciness and strong, rich flavor. The little guy with the sign that says cheese noodle rocks as well. Original review here

#5: Samyang Foods Maesaengyitangmyun Baked Noodle – South Korea

Last year was the 50th anniversary of ramyun in South Korea, pioneered by Samyang Foods. Samyang decided to try making something new – SBN, a baked noodle. What’s really neat here is that the noodles smell like bread! The broth is a lot like gomtang, a traditional beef soup. To shake it up, maesangyi is added – kind of like seaweed spun into a cotton-like consistency. The finished product is quite delectable; almost like a chowder! Original review here

#4: Sapporo Ichiban Otafuku Okonomi Sauce Yakisoba – Japan

I’ve always really loved yakisoba and this is the best I’ve found in an instant form yet. Otofuku is a brand of yakisoba sauce that can be found almost anywhere, and it’s inclusion in this one is just perfection. What’s more, the noodles are garnished with green laver (flaked seaweed) and a little mayonnaise packet! Original review here

#3: Prima Taste Singapore Curry La Mian – Singapore

Premium chewy noodles are given the opportunity to swim in some of the best curry broth I’ve ever had. The real difference here is that there are two sachets – curry paste and a ‘premix’ which is primarily coconut powder. Sheer delight! Original Review / Special 2014 Re-Review

#2: Prima Taste Singapore Laksa La Mian – Singapore

Prima Taste’s La Mian noodles are just pure wonderful, and their paste and coconut powder sachets are brimming with rich flavor. This one is a little spicy and has strong shrimp flavor. Little beads of chilli oil dance around the top of the broth like miniature rubies. Spectacular! Original review / Special 2014 Re-Review

#1: MyKuali Penang White Curry Noodle – Malaysia

The ultimate! The noodles are just the right texture and gauge – not too wide or too narrow with a chewiness that is perfection. The broth is amazing – extremely spicy (hit #7 on the 2013 Spiciest Instant Noodles list), and features a strong curry flavor and a hearty finish. I am truly impressed with this one and would consider it to be the one I would love to eat every day. Bravo! Original review / Special 2014 Re-Review

The Ramen Rater’s 3rd Annual Momofuku Ando Day

Momofuku Ando (安藤 百福) – (March 5, 1910 – January 5, 2007)

Today is January 19th, 2014 – and you know what that means? Momofuku Ando Day! In 1958, Momofuku Ando invented the very first instant noodles and started Nissin Foods. I do a special video every year to commemorate the occasion (see below). First, here’s what the Nissin Foods USA website has to say about the man:

Nissin founder, Momofuku Ando, has always instilled a sense of commitment and quality in Nissin products. Today, Nissin’s corporate philosophy inspires this same commitment to taste, convenience, and quality. Mr. Ando began the company as part of a humble family operation back in 1948. Faced with sparse food sources after World War II, Mr. Ando realized that a quality, convenient ramen product would help to feed the masses. His goal was to create a satisfying ramen that could be eaten anywhere, anytime. In 1958, Nissin introduced “Chicken Ramen”, the first instant ramen. Ironically, it was considered a luxury item, since Japanese grocery stores sold fresh Japanese noodles (udon) at one-sixth the cost of Mr. Ando’s new food concept.

Still, Mr. Ando was convinced that his revolutionary new method of preparation would sell. The concept seemed simple enough. All users would have to do is simply remove the ramen from its package, place it in a bowl, add boiling water, cover the bowl, and wait three minutes. The conservative Japanese food industry, however, rejected the product as a novelty with no future. They had never been so wrong.

Soon, Chicken Ramen was selling beyond even Mr. Ando’s wildest expectations. Before you could say “instant”, more than ten companies were rushing to put their own versions out on the market. By the end of 1958, grocery shelves were crowded with this new staple for the Japanese kitchen. From this point on, Nissin Foods began introduction of a long list of successful and innovative ramen products.

Today, there are hundreds of instant noodle manufacturers in the world, creating new varieties of every flavor imaginable!

You may be wondering: why January 19th? Here’s what Wikipedia had to say about Momofuku Ando Day:

Momofuku Ando Day was established January 2007 at a small hospital in Dallas, Texas. Recognizing the genius life of the man whose product has fed billions, a group of healthcare workers first celebrated the day on January 19, 2007. Each participating employee brought several packages of favorite ramen flavors to a banquet table from which employees could sample. The second year, January 2008, participating employees developed unique dishes using ramen as the prime ingredient. The Day also kicked off the “It Starts With Me” campaign promoting charitable giving and customer service. Unfortunately, the hospital was corporately closed in June 2008. In January 2009, several of the transferred employees continued Momofuku Ando Day by sharing it with their new coworkers at a sister facility. Understanding that ramen has been a staple food for victims of disaster and the poverty-stricken, as well as for college students and those wanting a quick meal, Momofuku Ando Day became an endeavor to help feed those in need by fundraising for charitable organizations, or simply calling attention to poverty or hunger through ramen or food donations to local food banks and free meal kitchens. The day has since been celebrated the second Friday of January to allow Mr. Ando due recognition.

Personally, I think Momofuku Ando Day should be on the 19th. Why? Well, it’s easier to remember and just seems more respectful to be honest. Any way you slice it, his invention changed the world we live in and he definitely should get recognition!

Here’s my annual Momofuku Ando Day video! This year, I demonstrate the recipe my mom used to make me when I was a kid and ultimately the reason I started reviewing instant noodles.

#1174: Itomen Crab Flavor Instant Ramen

Here’s one my lovely wife got me during a birthday trip to Richmond, BC on my birthday! I really like this packaging; very retro! Let’s check it out!

Here’s the import sticker.

Here’s the back of the package (click image to enlarge). Looks to be vegetarian friendly but look for yourself.

The noodle block.

The dry seasoning sachet.

Has a nice buttery scent.

The sesame oil sachet.

This has a very strong sesame scent.

 

Finished (click image to enlarge). Added imitation crab meat. The noodles have a lightness to them that is really great. Very springy and mellow. The broth is rather overwhelmed by the sesame oil, but that’s not a complaint. The crab flavor is light. It’s got a warm stick-to-your-ribs buttery comfort-food appeal I found. 4.0 out of 5.0 stars.UPC bar code 4901104150157.

Here’s an Itomen TV advertisement.