Instant noodles might remind you of messy dorm rooms and equally messy microwaves. And while there are plenty of brands that provide a quick mediocre meal, there are some better options that are worth filling your pantry with.
If you have the time and gusto, we encourage you to make your own ramen. But that’s not always in the cards, though you should still avoid battling through a sodium-driven package of Cup Noodles. You can make something many times tastier just as efficiently. It won’t outdo the slow-cooked batches from your favorite local ramen joint, but it will satisfy with that familiar one-two punch of noodles and umami.
Regardless of your stance on MSG, there are a lot of good directions to go for an easy-to-make serving of ramen. So, get your chopsticks and favorite brand of fish sauce ready, and look out for these 7 best instant ramen noodles.
A favorite among culinary types and food industry publications, NongShim specializes in Korean-style instant noodles generally with a hit of spice. The deliciousness lurks in the liquid, perhaps the most complex of them all thanks to generous amounts of vegetables and bone broth.
If you’re going for something vegan-friendly and without broth, the stuff from Public Goods is worth a shot. The original recipe is surprisingly flavorful given minimal ingredients and the noodles themselves are some of the best within the instant category.
Consider Nissin’s Roah line of ramen as a few steps above its more famous and ubiquitous Top Ramen. The Tonkatsu umami flavor is especially good, an extra savory broth-based around pork bone but also with a bit of ginger, garlic, and onion. Stock up on the miso option as well.
This instant brand started in Japan and has since expanded its production efforts to an additional headquarters in California. The standard flavors are solid but look out for Tokyo chicken, endorsed by the esteemed celeb chef Masaharu Morimoto.
The pros of Menraku Japanese ramen reside mainly within the noodles, which are of a texture and flavor that seem a little closer to from-scratch and authentic. Enjoy it on its own or throw in some tofu or chicken for a little extra protein.
The instant stuff from Mama is nice for the price and the solid broth bases can be doctored up with your own custom add-ons like carrots, edamame, bok choy, radishes, or a hard-boiled egg. Look for intriguing flavors like shrimp Tom Yum, which has the ideal amount of fiery spiciness.
One of the top instant noodle brands from China, JML comes in a variety of Chinese-style flavors like classic Stewed Beef or Spicy Pork. The noodles here are tasty but the real star is the broth, a pleasantly oily soup filled with the fragrance of Chinese spices like star anise and Sichuan peppercorns.
Unlike the other noodles on this list, these Indonesian instant noodles are not served in soup. Rather, Indomie is a “dry” instant noodle. To make Indomie, the noodles are cooked in hot water before being mixed with the seasoning packets. While Indomie is delicious by itself, it’s even better mixed with meat or vegetables. An interesting fact about Indomie is that it’s extremely popular in Nigeria.
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