Minutes to Win It
After taste testing 30 different packages, here are five instant noodles worthy for at-home slurping.
Text and Photos by Ann Hsu Kaufman
Mama Oriental Style Instant Noodles Shrimp Flavour (Tom Yum)
Available at: H Mart ($0.49 / 2.12-oz.)
The instructions printed on the back of the blindingly silver package include a charming step three: “Now delicious and appetizing noodles is ready for serving” (sic). Step three also happens to be accurate: the noodles are thin, stretchy and nicely chewy, and the broth, a good replica of the sour and spicy broths common in Thai cuisine, has a solid, throat-catching heat.
Optional Garnish: Squeeze in lime juice and top with fried shallots
Myojo Chukazanmai Soybean Paste Flavor
Available at: H Mart ($2.29 / 3.84-oz.)
Myojo Chukazanmai is fancy, champagne-in-the-VIP-room instant ramen, if that can exist. The sleek package comes with a dehydrated soup base and a liquid seasoning that, when married together, produce a salty-sweet, shimmering broth superior to typical instant noodle broths. The noodles themselves are springy and absorb tons of the hearty soybean paste flavor.
Optional Garnish: Sprinkle on some furikake (a dried Japanese seasoning consisting of ground fish, sesame seeds, seaweed, salt and sugar) and chopped scallions
Nissin Ramen Black Garlic Oil Tonkotsu
From: Hong Kong
Available at: Great Wall Supermarket ($0.89 / 3.5-oz.)
The noodles are not particularly notable, but the broth and the accompanying black garlic oil are a delightful departure from the usual. The depth of the marbled pork flavor in the broth seems as if it has been stewing for days instead of mere minutes. With the finishing touch of smoky black garlic oil, this ramen tastes like a comfortable, worn leather club chair—a gentleman’s ramen, if you will.
Optional Garnish: Add chopped scallions, dried seaweed and chili oil
Prima Taste Curry La Mian
Available at: CostPlus World Market ($3.99 / 6.20-oz.)
These noodles, a replica of a coconut milk-based curry laksa, are fantastically similar to the real thing. Cook the noodles for two minutes longer than suggested, and the result is a spicy, creamy coconut broth packed full of curry flavor, with rounded, thick noodles. Transporting to the open markets of Singapore is now made possible in under 10 minutes.
Optional Garnish: Add in a sliced, hard-boiled egg and shredded chicken or mix with tofu puffs and minced cilantro
Vifon Pho Bo Vietnamese Style Instant Rice Noodle (Beef)
Available at: H Mart ($0.59 / 2.1-oz.)
The makers of this instant pho are an ambitious lot, since true pho broth can take days to make. Even more impressive is that this package is very close to the real thing. The noodles are of the flat rice variety, and the delicate broth tastes faintly of five spice. Unfortunately, the dried bits of beef, meant to resemble sliced flank once reconstituted, are not as convincing.
Optional Garnish: Add lime, sliced jalapeno, cilantro and mint