It used to be that I only ate ramen when there was nothing else available and money was short for whatever reason. As a matter of fact, students across the world rely on instant ramen for their go-to culinary solution whenever they don’t have the time or resources to prepare something more labor-intensive. Most of us tend to rely on ramen as a last resort food-wise and yet the dish itself has a very rich tradition going hundreds of years to medieval Japan.
It is by no chance that ramen is considered by the Japanese to be their greatest exports of the 20th century because pretty much everyone has eaten a ramen meal at least once in their lives. Now, depending on how skilled you are as a cook, you can transform your average instant ramen in quite the delicious dish if you have the time to spare. There is really no reason why ramen should be bland and common unless that’s what you’re going for.
When properly cooked with the time and patience it requires, ramen noodles can be used as the base for many complex and delicious meals. With the right broth, ramen can be used to prepare a very flavorful meal, which is why you want to get yourself some quality ramen to begin with. After years of experimenting with every single type of ramen I could get my hands on, I believe to have pretty much figured out what the best instant ramen tastes like and what to look for when buying some. Check it out!
My Picks for The 10 Best Instant Ramen
#10 Asha Healthy Ramen Noodles
Made with wholesome wheat and natural organic flavors, Asha Healthy Ramen Noodles are known for their quality and taste. Extremely nutritious, this ramen is the ideal alternative to any instant noodle soup. Unlike most of its kind, this packet of ramen noodles does not contain any MSG’s, GMO’s, or any kind of harmful preservatives. Air dried to seal in all its nutrients, flavors and maintain its freshness, it is prepared with 100% all-natural ingredients. Delicious, easy to prepare, and quite authentic, Asha Healthy Ramen is a convenient snack that can also be eaten as a meal.
#9 Crystal Spicy Sesame Paste Noodle Soup
Made from mung-beans, Crystal Spicy Sesame Paste Noodle Soup is a bowl of thin, clear noodles that are gluten-free and 100% vegetarian. Delicious, super easy to cook and packed with flavor, these non-fat noodles can be prepared within 3 minutes or less. With 0% trans-fat and loaded with bok choy in a rich broth, this ramen absorbs all the strong flavors and is extremely robust. Ideal for a quick lunch at work or a snack at school, these noodles are 100% natural, spicy and authentic.
#8 Saigon Mi Instant Curry Ramen Noodles
Tasty, authentic, and convenient, Saigon Mi Instant Curry Ramen Noodles feature a delicious coconut milk flavor with a Vietnamese curry twist. With thick rice-textured noodles and a creamy soup, this ramen is the ideal choice if you are looking for a quick Vietnamese meal. The soup is packed with fresh Cymbopogon Citratus herbs, while the noodles are deliciously chewy and rich. This packet of instant ramen can be eaten on its own or can be added as a base to other broths to enhance the flavor and richness.
#7 Crystal Variety Pack Noodle Soup
Including sesame pasta, 6 different types of mushrooms, vegetables, hot and sour paste, savory soy, and a spicy tofu flavoring, Crystal Variety Pack Noodle Soup comes in a variety pack of 6 bowls. Entirely gluten-free and with 0% trans-fats, these noodles are easy to prepare and can be made in just 3 quick minutes. A great choice for lunch at school or a meal at work, this noodle soup is safe, healthy and extremely delicious. Rich in flavor, nutrients, and taste, it is highly recommended and loved by both kids and adults alike for its exquisite tenderness.
#6 Lotus Foods Millet-Rice Ramen Noodles
Lotus Foods Millet-Rice Ramen Noodles come in 10 individual packs that contain one packet of soup and a ramen cake. Made from high-quality rice, these traditional Japanese noodles are gluten-free, low fat, vegan and whole grain. As compared to other regular ramen soups, this one is prepared with non-GMO rice and contains 25% less sodium. Quick and easy to prepare, these ramen noodles just take 4 minutes, giving you a delicious meal packed with richness and flavor on-the-go. Not just that but you will hardly find a rice-based type of ramen with a better consistency and flavor than this one right here.
#5 Nissin RAOH Umami Tonkotsu Ramen Noddle Soup
Featuring a delicious Umami Tonkotsu flavor, Nissin RAOH Noodle Soup is a rich Japanese style meal that can be eaten as a quick snack at school or work. With just 4 minutes to prepare, these noodles are packed with delicious, rich flavor, including smooth noodles and a strong soup base. Although the soup base does not contain any shrimp, beef or chicken, it is packed with the perfect blend of flavors to compensate protein. Owing to the natural richness of the onion, garlic, and ginger present in the broth, this noodle soup is well known all across Japan and the US.
#4 Dr. McDougall’s Right Foods Chicken Noodles
Dr. McDougall’s Right Foods Chicken Noodles are steamed, non-fried organic ramen noodles that are packed with wholesome ingredients and rich flavor. This Japanese takeout snack is the perfect alternative for a quick and easy weekend dinner. Convenient, delicious and super easy to prepare, these noodles simply require one cup of water. Healthy, plant-based and ready to eat, these chicken noodles from Dr. McDougall’s help nourish the body and is one of the best choices of food you can prepare on the go. Then again, these are the exact characteristics that describe quality instant ramen in the first place.
#3 Maruchan’s Chicken Ramen Noodle Soup
With 0% trans-fats, Maruchan’s Chicken Ramen Noodle Soup is a flavor-packed meal that is highly recommended and one of the most popular of its kind today. Without the addition of any added spices, this noodle soup comes loaded with rich flavor and wholesomeness and soft textured noodles that do not take much time to cook. With just 3 minutes to prepare, these quick and convenient noodles are the perfect alternative for a meal at work or at school.
#2 Nissin RAOH’s Umami Soy Sauce Noodle Soup
Nissin RAOH’s Umami Soy Sauce Noodle Soup is a Japanese style dish that is packed with a delicious soy sauce flavor. With a rich soup base loaded with the right amount of seasoning, the noodles are thick with a smooth texture and compliment the soup perfectly. Convenient, easy to prepare and nutritious, these ramen noodles can be prepared in just 4 minutes. This ramen noodle soup can be used as a meal on its own or as an addition to enhance any broth.
not just in regards to its aroma but also in terms of long-lasting flavor.
#1 Maruchan Oriental Ramen Noodle
Known for its high quality and delicious flavor, Maruchan Oriental Ramen Noodles are the perfect addition to any broth or can be eaten as a stand-alone meal. All-natural, gluten-free with no harmful preservatives to speak of, these ramen noodles are extremely versatile and can be utilized to boost the flavor of any complex broth base. Available in a tasty oriental flavor, these noodles come in a pack of 24 and take just 3 minutes to cook. All things considered, they are perhaps the best ramen noodles you can get at this point in time.
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Instant Ramen Buying Guide
We all have a good understanding of what instant ramen should present itself as, so we try to judge each batch based on the previous that we had. Although there isn’t much wrong with this method, it does cause us to develop a more rigid taste for ramen, which in all fairness, can differ quite a lot between brands. With literally hundreds of brands to choose from, one might find it difficult to find ramen for a specific purpose without an extensive knowledge of what the market has to offer. This is because ramen can either be prepared as a quick, instant meal by itself or used as a base for more intricate, complex, and flavorful dishes. In this respect, you should perhaps figure out what makes good ramen and what to look for when buying a new batch.
What Is Ramen?
Considered as Japan’s ultimate comfort food, parallel to fried chicken, a cheeseburger or a delicious pizza. This bowl of richness includes a flavorsome broth, chewy noodles, all kinds of meats, and an assortment of toppings, this dish has made it to the top of the list of instant meals all over the globe. Seen throughout the Western world as a quick meal and nothing more, ramen noodles can be used for so much more with the right mixture of spices and ingredients. In essence, however, it is designed to be quick to deploy and even quicker to prepare, so always judge a batch of ramen on that alone.
Types of Ramen
Although some people would believe there isn’t much diversity when it comes to instant ramen, they are in fact several different versions one can choose from. Depending on how they were processed during the manufacturing process, instant ramen can come in the form of:
Instant Noodles – Prepared by simply deep frying or dehydrating noodles, this type of ramen can often contain too much fat, therefore it is important to check the fat contents before using it with any vegetarian dish. Air dried instant ramen is also available in this form but is much more expensive than dehydrated or fried instant ramen, not to mention how rare it is to find in the first place.
Dried Noodles – Thinner, lean, and much easier to prepare, dried noodles are the ideal choice if you are a home cook with little time on your hands. Prepared by drying out freshly made noodles, this type of ramen is cheaper and easy to find. Given their dried form, they also last a whole lot longer in storage than other types of ramen. Then again, this is pretty much the goal with ramen in general, that of having a quick culinary solution to turn to whenever you don’t have the time or resources to cook anything else.
Fresh Noodles – Mainly found in big restaurants and fine diners, these type of noodles come in various shapes and accompanied by various ingredients. The thin and light kind are usually paired up with a heavy broth, while the thicker, much more wavy noodles are found in miso-flavored broths, which are lighter. There are a few ‘instant’ versions of fresh noodles but they are quite expensive and difficult to come by.
For the most part, instant ramen is available in four main flavors to choose from, a decent enough size sample for you to use with whatever broth you plan to use. Each of these is unique in their own way and combined with a different variety of noodles, meats, and toppings, based on their depth of flavor. This may come in handy as you prepare soups or noodle-based stir-fries, mainly because of the versatility they deliver.
Tonkotsu – Prepared by boiling pork bones for up to 15 hours, this type of broth is clear and rich and contains dissolved collagen which gives it that strong, deep flavor. Even though it wasn’t exactly popular when it was first introduced, Tonkotsu has risen in popularity over the years and given how flavorful it can be with the right ingredients, it is bound to increase its spread even further.
Shio – This type of broth is usually salt based and found in the most ramen dishes. With a soup that is clear and light, it tastes fairly saltier than other types of ramen, yet understandably so considering its thoroughly consistent texture. Because this particular type of ramen is a more culinary evolved version of traditional Chinese noodle soups, you can expect it to feature many ingredients popular with Chinese cuisine.
Shoyu – Consisting of soya sauce, this type of broth is one of the most common ramen flavors. Instead of salt, soya sauce is utilized to give the dish both color and a rich flavor. In comparison to Shio, this type of ramen is sweeter and although it is smooth and clear, it is darker in color. Most of the time, this particular type of ramen is used with brown chicken or seafood, with some adventurous cooks even using it with pork broth types.
Miso – Another great broth type for ramen noodles is the Miso flavor. This ingredient is a newly found element that has been used to add depth of flavor and richness to ramen. This type of broth is much more complex and contains a stronger taste when compared to other ramen types. This particular flavor is mostly used to add a savory aroma to common ramen broth, thus providing the soup with a more complex yet robust appearance.
Types of Ramen Toppings
To add to the flavor, richness, and consistency of your noodles, Ramen can be topped with a variety of different ingredients. Instant Ramen Noodles includes a packet of easy-to-cook noodles along with whatever flavor you select. There is a wide range of flavors available at supermarkets and shopping malls worldwide, however, for those of you who would like to take it a step further, you can add some delicious traditional toppings of your own to add an extra depth and enhance the flavor of your ramen.
Onions: Leeks or spring onions are some of the most common additions to ramen noodles. Fried onions are another great choice of topping as they not only add flavor but color too.
Bamboo Shoots: These can be added to give your ramen some additional texture and crunch, the type you normally find in traditional Asian cuisine.
Butter: To enhance the flavor and richness of ramen, butter is sometimes added as a dollop on the top of the ramen before serving and is mostly used in Miso and Shio ramen.
Seaweed: Providing texture and enhancing the flavor of your ramen, seaweed is a healthy choice for a topping especially because of its high mineral content.
Bacon: Either fried or sliced into thin layers, bacon is a delicious ingredient that can be added to enhance the flavor of any ramen broth of your choosing.
Char Siu: Boiled or roasted slices of pork that can also be sautéed in dark soya sauce for that extra bit of flavor your ramen soup might be needing.
Boiled Eggs: Another quite common ingredient, boiled eggs are usually marinated in a variety of sauces to give the soup that added flavor and deliciousness.
Mushrooms: Sliced black mushrooms are easily available at any supermarket and are guaranteed to deliver a more consistent texture to whatever dish you might prepare.
Bean Sprouts: Rich in Vitamin C, bean sprouts are long, thin pulses that add a bit of crunch and texture to any delicious bowl of ramen, regardless of how you prepare it.
Corn: Mainly used in Shio and Miso ramen, sweet corn is another commonly used ingredient in instant ramen, mostly by cooks who prefer a more Western-oriented dish.
Pickled Ginger: Pickled in salt or vinegar, ginger is a very common ramen topping that not only adds to the flavor of the broth but enhances the richness and gives the broth a strong taste.