Anyone who says journalism is dead has never eaten ten packets of instant noodles in an hour.
We're back again, bringing you the hardest hitting, sodium-laden stories of the century. Saving poor university students everywhere from the disappointment of a sub-par $1.40 bowl of msg, we ranked every instant noodle brand worth ranking.
Disclaimer: If you wander into any major Asian mart (TANG Food Emporium on Russel Street is a classic, or pretty much anywhere in Box Hill or Glen Waverley), you’ll find yourself surrounded (not a hyperbole) in a rainbow aisle of instant noodles. For the sake of my kidneys (and also, my dignity), we’ve selected a variety of products from each major instant noodle brand.
#10 Wei Lih: Instant Stir Fried Noodle Mi Goreng
While this packet of noodles won’t set you back more than 40 cents (to put that into context, it’s less than a Maccas soft serve), it’s also not a great time for your tastebuds. The packet declares noodles come with “fried soybean paste flavour”, which should have probably been the first tip off.
After cooking up the noodles, you’re supposed to drain the hot water and add soup flavouring to concoct a broth. The noodles then get mixed through the soybean paste pack. Despite the packet promising “one pack, two taste”, you end up with zero flavour.
#9 Obento: Spicy Kung Pao
You’ll be hard-pressed to find this line of Obento instant noodles in any Asian mart, which should give you an indicator of its quality.
There’s a depressingly tiny fork included in the packaging, which doesn’t help the sogginess of the noodles or obnoxiously sweet flavouring. Sad times.
#8 Nongshim: Soon Veggie Ramen
Shin Ramyun’s slightly odd cousin; Soon Veggie Ramen is made by the same team that produces the hyper-recognisable red and black packaged instant noodles.
Soon Veggie Ramen is vegetarian-friendly if the “NO Meat” labelling is accurate. It’s also MSG-free, apparently, but we’d take that information with a grain of salt. It’s a weird version of Shin Ramyun, with a funky soy aftertaste.
#7 Cup Noodles: Black Pepper Crab flavour
Inspired by the Singaporean dish of the same name, but Hong Kong-style (confusing, we know), this ‘lil cup packs a decent punch of peppery gravy, spring onion and not-repulsive dehydrated pieces of crab stick. What more could you want?
#6 Mama: Instant Noodles Shrimp Creamy Tom Yum
Mama does broth better. The body of the soup is pretty legit—with traces of Thai basil, coconut and citrus (*not fresh*).
At fifty cents per pack, it’s also one of the most economical choices, so you can take your saved dollar and treat yo’self to something special.
#5 Nissin: Ramen Instant Noodle Kyushu Tonkotsu Flavour
One of the lighter flavours of instant ramen (our kidneys may disagree, but what do they know?), Nissin manages to recreate a decently thick, Tonkotsu ramen broth for 80 cents.
Noodles are well coated in flavour and we reckon if you added a ramen egg, seaweed and some pork slices, you could get away with cooking it on date night (not your first date).
#4 Indo Mie: Mi Goreng Instant Noodles
Even the instant noodle uninitiated (baby boomers, we’re looking at you) will recognise Australia’s fave instant noodle brand.
For tips and tricks to pimp it up the next time you pick up a pack (if you’re refusing to trust our expert rankings), check out this article.
#3 Nongshim: Shin Ramyun Noodle Soup Gourmet Spicy
An OG instant noodle, and the most popular non-Japanese instant ramen in the world, Shin Ramyun is fiercely flavoured with chilli, spices and beef.
There’s also a premium black version (heartier, but milder) and a kimchi offshoot.
#2 Myojo: Ippeichan Yakisoba Mayo
I should preface this one by saying that all instructions on this packet are in Japanese. All of them.
And if you think all instant noodles are cooked the same way: you are wrong. I have extensive instant noodle experience, and I peeled off a section labelled “3” to start. I had to go all the way back to the store, but boy was the journey worth the result.
A dry instant noodle dish (fancy), noodles are accompanied with a pink sachet of flavouring (it smells a bit like damp wood), yakisoba sauce (it smells better) and wasabi Kewpie-style mayo (the gold). Don’t add any of the sauces until after the noodles are cooked and drained (radical stuff, we know).
The end result is a slightly sweet, chewy yakisoba coated in creamy spiced mayo. At $3.50 a pop, it’s practically for kings, but worth every extra dollar.
#1 Prima Food: La Mien Premium Wholegrain Noodle in Laksa
We have a love-hate relationship with our instant noodles—mainly because of La Mein Wholegrain Laksa. 3am hangry tipsy? La Mein Wholegrain Laksa. Lazy Wednesday night dinner? La Mein Wholegrain Laksa ft. tofu and bok choy. Sunday morning? Realise you’ve eaten through your sizeable stash of La Mein Wholegrain Laksa, and need to visit Tang’s immediately to restock.
It’s the closest thing to spicy, coconut-y, creamy laksa you’re going to get without forking out for real laksa. Get on it people.
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Image credit: Gabriella Bjorklund