Tag Archives: ramen noodles

Prison Ramen: Maruchan Texas Beef Donation

Prison Ramen: Maruchan Texas Beef Donation

Oh wow – okay so I’ve been trying to get instant noodles that inmates at jails and prisons were able to buy. You’d think they’d be the same old regular instant varieties everyone can get?

Nope. These are special – specifically packaged for corrections facilities with clear packaging to discourage hiding things in them. I contacted the manufacturer; they weren’t interested in talking about these specific products. I contacted the distributor who said I’d have to be in prison to get any. I told both parties that I really wasn’t looking to be incarcerated in order to get samples of these products.

Wikipedia had this to say – “In September 2013, the incarceration rate of the United States of America was the highest in the world, at 716 per 100,000 of the national population. While the United States represents about 4.4 percent of the world’s population, it houses around 22 percent of the world’s prisoners.[1] Corrections (which includes prisons, jails, probation, and parole) cost around $74 billion in 2007 according to the U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics.[2][3]
At the end of 2016, the Prison Policy Initiative estimated that in the United States, about 2,298,300 people were incarcerated out of a population of 324.2 million. This means that 0.7% of the population was behind bars.”

That’s a whole lot of people – I wanna try their ramen! It shouldn’t be that hard, right?

A huge thank you to reader Nick Bizarro. I saw these on eBay and asked folks on The Ramen Rater facebook page if they might buy them (a case of 24 packs of Maruchan Texas Beef) and send a couple. Well, Nick was kind enough to do so. I’ll be doing a couple special reviews of this one soon – involving recipes used by inmates doing time. Let’s have a look.

Prison Ramen: Maruchan Texas Beef Donation

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

The Ramen Rater’s Top Ten American Instant Noodles Of All Time 2018 Edition

The Ramen Rater's Top Ten American Instant Noodles Of All Time 2018 Edition

In the past few years, I’ve noticed some shifts in the domestic instant noodle world. Shifting towards a little more healthy being the main thing, but also playing with more exotic flavors and ideas. Here are my favorite varieties out of the reviews up to #2,943 that are made in the United States. What you should also know is that if you live in the United States, these aren’t too hard to come by. If you’re a manufacturer or just a reader who has a variety you’d like to see reviewed, please contact me using the CONTACT form. With that, here’s The Ramen Rater’s Top Ten American Instant Noodles Of All Time 2018 Edition!

The Ramen Rater’s Top Ten American Instant Noodles Of All Time 2018 Edition

Video Presentation

A visual presentation of The Ramen Rater’s Top Ten American Instant Noodles Of All Time 2018 Edition.

The Ramen Rater’s Top Ten American Instant Noodles Of All Time 2018 Edition

#10: Mike’s Mighty Good Craft Ramen Vegetarian Vegetable Ramen Soup

Mike's Mighty Good Craft Ramen Vegetarian Vegetable Ramen Soup

Noodles came out quite nicely – good chew and gauge. The broth was kind of a vegetable and Western hot and sour affair with tart notes, sweet ones and a generally kind, giving disposition. The amount of vegetables was admirable and it all came together in a very good way. Original review

#9: Maruchan Creamy Chicken Flavor Ramen Noodle Soup

Maruchan Creamy Chicken Flavor Ramen Noodle Soup

The noodles for this particular variety are just out of this world perfect. They have a decent and very standard gauge and suck up just enough broth. The broth has a very easy going creamy chicken taste, creaminess thanks to non-dairy creamer. Definitely my all-time favorite of the US Maruchan pillow pack range. Original review

#8: Nongshim Shin Black Spicy Pot-Au-Feu Flavor

Nongshim Shin Black Spicy Pot-Au-Feu Flavor

Made in Rancho Cucamonga, California, this is the extra special version of their flagship Shin Ramyun product. Extra broth sachet and great vegetables. Original review

#7: Nongshim Kimchi Flavor Noodle Soup

Nongshim Kimchi Flavor Noodle Soup

First off, this is a Vegan product. What’s awesome is that it’s just got this bright and tangy broth going on that really impresses me. Lots of pickled cabbage in there and great noodles to boot. Original review

#6: Mike’s Mighty Good Craft Ramen Beef Pho Flavor Rice Noodle Soup

Mike's Mighty Good Craft Ramen Beef Pho Flavor Rice Noodle Soup

The rice noodles are awesome. They smelled great as they cooked. The broth ended up a happy, thick mess of wonderfulness. I’ve had my share of bad instant pho. Happy to say this isn’t one of them.  Original review

#5: Sapporo Ichiban Japanese Style Noodles Chow Mein

Sapporo Ichiban Japanese Style Noodles Chow Mein

I’ve loved this one for years and it’s actually been on the annual top ten once or twice at the beginning. A broth free noodle with a very tasty seasoning. Garnish includes seaweed. Original review

#4: Nissin Cup Noodle Seafood Ramen Noodle Soup

Nissin Cup Noodle Seafood Ramen Noodle Soup

The noodles are your standard Cup Noodle fare. They are flat and thin gauged. Soft tooth and decent quantity. The nice thing about this one is the inclusions and the broth. The broth is a tasty and milky seafood one – salty and full of nice seafood flavor without being fishy. Clam and other seafood are abundant in decent size as well as scrambled egg as well as cabbage. Original review

#3: Sapporo Ichiban Tonkotsu Ramen Artificially Flavored Tonkotsu White Chicken Broth

Sapporo Ichiban Tonkotsu Ramen Artificially Flavored Tonkotsu White Chicken Broth

A creamy broth with very hearty noodles. This is one of the first new things from this company in a long time – was worth the wait. Original review

#2 – Maruchan Bowl Taste Of Asia Tom Yum Ramen Noodle Soup

Maruchan Bowl Taste Of Asia Tom Yum Ramen Noodle Soup

To be honest, I’m about as surprised by this one as you might be! But make no mistake – this US domestic variety is truly amazing. The tom yum flavor is just superb along with a huge quantity of noodles. You’ll fill up and be extremely happy as you do so. Original review

#1: Nissin Cup Noodles Very Veggie Spicy Chicken Flavor Ramen Noodle Soup

Nissin Cup Noodles Very Veggie Spicy Chicken Flavor Ramen Noodle Soup

The noodles are thin and have a soft tooth. The flavor is a chicken with a lot of cumin and a bit of spiciness – not too much to fend off anyone I know, but enough to say ‘hi – I’m a little spicy.’ Just like the other three varieties in this range (chicken, beef and soy sauce), this one gets a lot of added flavor in the broth from the myriad vegetables included. Corn, bell pepper, and onion are omnipresent and just so welcome here. Of the quartet, this is my favorite, but each one deserves this spot – something newn innovative and delicious. Original review

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]


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]


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


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]


#2610: Meet The Manufacturer: Nona Lim Whole Wheat Ramen + Spicy Szechuan Broth

Meet The Manufacturer: Nona Lim Whole Wheat Ramen + Spicy Szechuan Broth

I thought maybe a whole wheat ramen noodle might pair well with Szechuan flavors. These look really interesting and to be honest, I have a partiality to whole wheat noodles. Let’s have a look!

Nona Lim Whole Wheat Ramen + Spicy Szechuan Broth – United States

Meet The Manufacturer: Nona Lim Whole Wheat Ramen + Spicy Szechuan Broth

Detail of the side panels (click to enlarge). Looks to be meat free but check for yourself. To prepare, boil for 1~2 minutes in a large pot. Drain and rinse under cold water. Finally, enjoy with Nona Lim broth!

Meet The Manufacturer: Nona Lim Whole Wheat Ramen + Spicy Szechuan Broth

One of the two servings in the box.

Meet The Manufacturer: Nona Lim Whole Wheat Ramen + Spicy Szechuan Broth

The large package of Nona Lim Spicy Szechuan broth.

Here’s the back of the package (click to enlarge). To prepare, add broth to a pot on stove and heat. Finally, add in some Nona Lim noodle and enjoy!

Finished (click to enlarge). Added pork, nanami togarashi, spring onion, fried onion and Salad Cosmo mung bean sprouts. The whole wheat ramen is just excellent – It has a great chew to it and a nice kind of artisan quality. Very hearty. The broth has a nice spicy level and a rich flavor coming from many herbs and spice. Since these are two separate products, I’m giving the noodles 5.0 out of 5.0 stars and the broth 5.0 out of 5.0 stars.  UPC bar code for noodles 859792002613. UPC bar code for the broth 859792002538.

Meet The Manufacturer: Nona Lim Whole Wheat Ramen + Spicy Szechuan Broth

Land of Plenty: A Treasury of Authentic Sichuan Cooking

Part two of Nona Lim speaking at an entrepreneurial series

#2315: Goku-Uma Ramen Noodles Miso Flavor

Here’s one of a line I’ve been kind of on the fence about lately. I tried their tonkotsu and was a little disappointed and hopeful that this miso will be a different story. Shall we have a look?

Detail of the side and bottom (click to enlarge). Looks to be meat free but check for yourself. To prepare, add sachets and boiling water to line. Cover for 3 minutes. Stir and enjoy!

Detail of the lid (click to enlarge).

The noodle block.

A dry sachet.

A vegetable garnish.

A liquid sachet.

The liquid base.

Finished (click to enlarge). The noodles are so-so; they end up hydrated with a slightly off al dente kind of feel to them. Just something I don’t like; like they want to be like a single noodle. The broth wasn’t bad – not the bitter sub-miso I’ve had before – but one that’s not too strong. The vegetables did well. 3.0 out of 5.0 stars.  UPC bar code 074410396497.

The Ramen Book

A recipe for miso ramen.

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

#2073: Great Value Spicy Ramen Noodles

Awesome. Spicy instant noodles my sister got me for my birthday – from Walmart in Canada! Thank you again! So far these have been pretty good – the beef one tasted like beef and the chicken tasted like chicken. The operative word here is tasted; so many Canadian varieties don’t have a lot of flavor to them. However I should note these are manufactured in the United States. Not a slam on Canada though – I really like Canada! Let’s check this one out!

Detail of the back of the package (click to enlarge). Looks to be meat free but check for yourself. To prepare, add noodle block to 500ml boiling water and cook for 3 minutes. Add in sachet contents. Stir and enjoy!

The noodle block..

The soup base sachet.

An ultra light powder.

Finished (click to enlarge). Added coriander, leftover seasoned ground beef for tacos, spring onion, shard cheddar and red chilli flakes. The noodles are just great – a very standard instant noodle gauge. The broth is a lightly spicy kind of light chicken broth. I’m surprised how good it is; I had this about 4 times when I was sick a couple months ago and it was so good with cheese and egg dropped into it. This is nice! 4.0 out of 5.0 stars.  UPC bar code 628915231717.

Sam Walton: Made In America

A Walmart Canada TV commercial.

#2013: Great Value Beef Style Ramen Noodles

My sister got these for my birthday up in Canada – thank you! I’ve wanted to review some Walmart branded instant noodles for years; just seems fitting that Walmart would have instant noodles. These were bought in Canada, however they’re made in the United States. However, I’ve never seen instant noodles with the Great Value brand inside the United States… Anyways, let’s crack this open and see how this one fares.

Here’s the back of the package (click to enlarge). Looks to be meat free but check for yourself. To prepare, add noodle block to 2 cup (500ml) boiling water and cook for 3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat and add contents of seasoning sachet. Stir and enjoy!

The noodle block.

The soup base sachet.

The soup base powder – has a beef scent and is very fine.

Finished (click to enlarge). Added beef, sweet onion and coriander. The noodles are very standard with the slight slippery glutenous layer on the outside. They have a very standard gauge. The broth is a very standard beef as well; single sachet and tastes like beef. It is set apart from other Canadian varieties in the way that it isn’t completely bland, but has an alright flavor. 3.5 out of 5.0 stars.  UPC bar code 628915242584.

Sam Walton: Made In America

A great documentary of the history of Walmart.

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!