Arts and Entertainment

My Noodle Obsession 2

With all her favorite ramenyas are closed, A&E editor and ramen enthusiast Jiahe Wang rates her favorite instant ramen brands.

Reading Time: 3 minutes

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By Cadence Li

As all my favorite ramenyas are closed, I have to resort to instant ramen. I have ranked my top seven brands for desperate times!

Top Ramen

If Top Ramen were a girl, she would wear UGGs or Adidas Superstars, drink Starbucks, and wear T-shirts with #onfleek written all over it. In short, Top Ramen is the most basic of basics. Don’t get me wrong: just because Top Ramen is a staple of many college students’ diet doesn’t mean it’s boring or bad. The line, established in 1970, offers four meat flavors—chicken, beef, shrimp, and hot and spicy beef—and two vegetarian options: soy sauce and chili. To the regular, inexperienced consumer, however, these flavors taste pretty similar with only their different food coloring distinguishing them. Top Ramen boasts two different forms, the regular plastic packets and styrofoam cups, allowing for versatility when traveling or late night cravings.


Whenever I open a packet of Indomie, the distinct savory smell transports me back to my childhood, à la the madeleines described by Proust. My family used to buy huge boxes of the Indonesian instant noodles, which were sold at an extremely low price at Wuse Market in Nigeria. My mom would upgrade the humble noodles with a tender poached egg, some scallions, or other mixed vegetables. To this day, the chicken flavor I used to eat after a long day of school remains my favorite. Most people, however, enjoy the other more adventurous flavors more: Mi Goreng, Satay, Curry Chicken Soup, and Barbecue. Either way, you can’t go wrong with Indomie. The noodles are chewy while the soup is savory and has that umami most other brands lack. It is versatile and can be paired with any topping, from seafood to tofu. The serving size is a bit smaller than most instant noodle brands though, so you might want to cook two packets if you’re really hungry.

Nongshim Shin Ramyun

One of my favorite Korean noodles, Shin Ramyun, is for anyone who lives for bold flavors. The broth is quite spicy for those who are not familiar with Korean cuisine, so prepare to sweat profusely and blow your nose every five minutes. The penetrating pepperiness is harmonious when combined with the taste of mushroom, carrot, scallion, and soybean. The noodles are thicker than other brands and if undercooked slightly, addictively springy and meaty. Oh, and it’s even better when topped with a poached egg and slices of spam.

Samyang Hot Chicken Flavor Ramen

Known for its absurdly spicy taste, this noodle has been in the spotlight of the YouTube mukbang community for quite some time. Many popular YouTubers like hyuneeEats, the Try Guys, Zach Choi, and Nikocado Avocado have uploaded videos of themselves munching on these extra chewy, extra hot noodles. Your butthole might suffer from PTSD afterward, but the experience is definitely worth it. As someone proud of her high heat tolerance, I enjoy the noodles for their taste occasionally, when I’m looking for something with a kick. The noodles come with a packet of spicy Buldak sauce (which you can get in a bottle for $7 from Amazon!) and sesame and seaweed flakes seasoning.

Nissin RAOH

This ramen is a little bit different from the others. Its branding claims that its “authentic” taste is quite similar to that of the freshly cooked ramen you can get at ramenyas. Honestly, it’s not too far off. The noodles are not fried and chewier (al dente, even?) than regular instant ramen, and the broth is fatty with a distinct tonkotsu taste. The flavor is reminiscent of real ramen from Ippudo or Mentoku, though it is too greasy for my liking.

Kang Shifu Roasted Beef Noodles

Kang Shifu is the essential Chinese instant ramen that everyone loves. It’s more full-bodied than most Japanese ramen but not as heavy as Korean ramen. It strikes a delicate balance between a hearty taste and a refreshing texture—the broth is beefy and rich, while the noodles are softer and less greasy. It packs a punch, perfect for when you’re looking for something spicy. The noodle comes with a decent amount of dried vegetables like carrot, scallion, and corn, and several pieces of dehydrated beef.

Prima Taste Singapore Laksa La Mian

Laksa is a spicy noodle soup popular in Southeast Asia, cooked with shrimp paste, coconut milk, curry, and a choice of protein. Don’t want to travel far to taste this delicacy? Fear not! Prima Taste’s instant laksa comes pretty close. The thick wheat noodles are perfect with a slightly sour and herbaceous creamy broth. Unlike other instant noodles that smell like grease and MSG, this laksa is aromatic, suggestive of lemon, basil leaf, and fish sauce. And damn, the portion really is generous.