In the West, instant ramen is typically thought to be a simple and cheap filler meal reserved for broke college students. Of course, in Japan, ramen is a legit dish that takes a lot of time and effort to prepare – but the instant stuff is no slouch either! The Land of the Rising Sun takes its noodles seriously! With so many varieties available, it's enough to make any seasoned noodle master go mad! If you’re looking to warm up this winter with some delicious ramen but you don’t want to break the bank, here’s our top 5 favorites!
1. Nissin Chikin Ramen
We can’t talk instant ramen without giving proper recognition to the absolute OG, Nissin’s Chikin Ramen (チキンラーメン).
Created by the legendary Momofuku Ando in 1958, the original instant ramen is still widely available throughout Japan and just as oishii as ever! The block of noodles features a “pocket” in the center that’s the perfect shape to crack an egg into. Fill your bowl with boiling water, cover for a few minutes, and you’ve got yourself a perfectly poached egg atop delicious, chicken flavored ramen noodle soup. Add a little chopped green onion if you're feelin’' fancy, and you’re well on your way to slurping satisfaction!
2. Nissin Cheese Curry Cup Noodles
Nissin seriously knows what they’re doing! A personal favorite – the Cheese Curry Cup Noodles soak up a savory Japanese style curry (カレー）sauce, with little bits of meat, potatoes and other veggies to keep them company. To top it all off, melty bits of cheese take this Cup Noodle concoction to the next level of richness! The curry sauce itself is so good that Japanese will often mix in rice when the noodles are done, so they can soak up every last bit! This one is really worth tracking down for any ramen fanatic.
3. Neoguri Ramyun
Alright, you got us – Neoguri Ramyun is technically Korean (hence “ramyun”, the korean word for ramen), but it’s also super popular and widely available throughout Japan! This is a perfect pick for those of us who crave a little kick. The seafood soup is full of fiery chilli flavor that gives it a characteristically Korean identity. The noodles are closer in texture to that of Udon, bouncy and chewy, so they tend to be more filling than their thinner ramen relatives. Neoguri is great for adding your own unique toppings to turn a simple snack into a full meal.
4. Myojo Ippei-chan yakisoba
Ramen is without a doubt the most well known of Japanese noodle dishes, but we think Yakisoba deserves some recognition as well. If you’re not in the mood for piping-hot, salty soup getting in the way of the good stuff – the noodles themselves, then yakisoba is an excellent alternative. Myojo Ippei-chan yakisoba comes with a Japanese mustard flavored mayo that’s both tangy and spicy to squirt over your noodles after you’ve mixed in it’s signature yakisoba sauce. Sprinkle over the included nori-flakes and you’ve got yourself a quick meal worthy of any street food festival!
5. Nissin Mouko Tanmen Nakamoto
To round out our list, we’ve really saved the best for last! Another spicy option, these cup noodles are truly something special. Created in collaboration between 711 and the famous Mouko Tanmen Nakamoto shop based in Tokyo, you can taste their authentic Tanmen style ramen whenever you want at your own convenience! A mix of miso, sesame and spice provides an excellent umami flavor that can only be rivaled by the real deal. Adding in the provided oil packet gives the soup an iconic shimmer that will make it hard to believe you’re sipping from a cardboard cup!
Have you had the chance to try any of these umai options? What’s your favorite flavor of cup ramen? Let us know in the comments below!
Tanner is a content editor and marketing associate based in Tokyo, Japan. As a former professional cook, he loves exploring Tokyo's food scene and cooking at home for his partner. He also enjoys bad puns, decent coffee, oxford commas, and reading fantastic genre fiction.
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