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 the intriguing flavors like shrimp Tom Yum, which has the ideal amount of fiery spiciness.
Nissin Top Ramen
There’s a reason why Top Ramen has become the go-to brand of the bunch. It may not be the most complex, but classic flavors like chicken and beef are surprisingly tasty. And there’s room for a little experimentation, whether it’s using just part of the flavor packet (and filling in with something else like fish sauce or plum ginger sauce) or even crumbling up the raw noodles and throwing them in a salad.
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