Hello everyone! It’s been about 8 months since we started this website. After tasting and reviewing over 200+ cups of noodles, we are happy to bring you our very own list of the Top Ten Instant Cup Noodles!
As you may have noticed in our reviews so far, we have only tried out instant cup noodles. We use the term “cup” here a bit loosely since some of the noodles come in containers shaped more like a bowl than a cup. Basically if the noodles only require hot water and not actual cooking in a pot, we’ll consider it a cup noodle. That said, we do plan to start reviewing the more common packet-style of noodles in the next few months, so do keep checking in for those!
It wasn’t easy for us to create this top ten list. While all of the noodles received 5 star ratings, there was some argument within the team as to specific positions on the list. For some of the closer calls, we actually had to re-try the noodles to see how they stood against each other. We also decided to highlight a few noodles for special mention to acknowledge either their quality or something unique about them.
We’ll begin with the special mention list and work our way to the top.
Special Mention 1 – Nissin Grilled Chicken Ramen with Egg Yolk (Japan)
Although it scored only 4.5 stars, this Nissin deserves a special mention due to its eclectic garnishes. It features cutesy flower-shaped kamaboko, BBQ meatball and topped off with some liquid egg yolk. Together with the BBQ chicken-flavored broth, it’s really quite a treat in a cup!
Special Mention 2 – Ottogi Cheese Ramen in Soup (South Korea)
This is another one that just missed the perfect 5 stars. We included it here because cheese is quite a unique flavor for instant noodles, especially a soupy one. We thought it would turn out weird and too thick but Ottogi got the recipe just about right here. They managed to combine the rich cheesy flavor with the right tinge of spiciness. Coupled with the classic thick and chewy Korean ramyun, this one is hard to resist.
Special Mention 3 – Maggi Penang Seafood Curry (Malaysia)
This cup of curry noodles from Maggi was really tough to leave off the top ten list. We were so torn between this one and the eventual entry at #10 that we actually had two rounds of re-tasting to come to a consensus.
Though it barely missed the cut, it is still a top quality cup of noodles in its own right. Maggi got the formulation for the instant Penang-style curry almost perfect. The broth had the rich creamy flavor infused with dried shrimp and lemongrass that immediately makes it recognizable to lovers of Penang cuisine. Maggi’s commitment to quality really shone through here.
MyKuali makes its first appearance on this list at #10 with their Penang Red Tom Yum Goong Rice Vermicelli Soup. What really stood out about this was MyKuali’s attention to detail in the subtle flavors of a quality Penang tom yum. It had all the characteristic lemongrass, tamarind, lime, chili and dried shrimp flavors in just about the right proportions.
The broth was so rich and flavorful then even if it were to be diluted with twice as much water as recommended, it would still make a great tom yum soup on its own.
At #9 we have another tom yum dish, the MAMA Tom Yum Goong Instant Rice Noodles Soup Spicy Shrimp Flavor from Thailand. It featured flat rice noodles that went very well with the creamy tom yum broth.
Usually, instant creamy tom yums consist of powdered milk or creamer added to regular tom yum broth without much consideration to how the two flavors interact. MAMA here served up a broth where the milk powder delightfully complemented the lemongrass, shrimp and lime flavors in the tom yum.
As a special bonus to our readers dealing with celiac disease, this one is gluten free.
Sitting pretty at #8 is the Maruchan Akai Kitsune Udon with Fried Tofu from Japan. We’ll be honest here…the inclusion of a giant piece of aburaage (sweet fried tofu) alone was sufficient to put this cup of Maruchan noodles into contention for inclusion into our top ten list. When added to a bowl of udon with a lightly sweet and pleasant soy-sauce flavored broth, its place at #8 is more than justified.
At sweet #7, we have an entry from Taiwan, the Uni-President Man Han Da Can Super Hot Pot Beef Flavor Instant Noodles. It features a flat and broad wheat flour noodle in a hot pot broth that packs a decent spicy kick. And oh, it also comes with a serving of real beef that was really well-marinated and prepared.
If you have friends going to Taiwan, make sure you ask them to get you some. Or you could buy it online. That works too.
At #6 we have the Nissin Afuri Rich Salted Yuzu Flavored Ramen from Japan. This line of noodles is a collaboration between Nissin and the Afuri Ramen chain which is famous for its yuzu-infused broths.
This cup of noodles comes with a dash of yuzu juice that paired very well with the traditional style ramen broth. The yuzu flavor was brought to a higher level by the inclusion of some yuzu zest in the garnish pack. There were also chicken cubes in the garnish pack which were a thoughtful addition to make this a complete gourmet-style meal.
At #5 we have the Nongshim Zha Wang Noodles With Chajang Sauce from South Korea. For the uninitiated, chajang sauce is a Korean sauce that is made with a black soybean paste. Nongshim brilliantly combined this sweet savory sauce with flat wheat flour noodles to create a very delicious instant dry noodle that will keep you asking for more.
At #4 is the Bashulanren Self-Heating Mala Hot Pot from China. While not exactly a “cup” noodle in the the traditional sense, all it needed was a cup of water in order to prepare and so we have classified it as a cup noodle. As a matter of fact, the water didn’t even need to be hot, just regular room-temperature sufficed.
After having fun preparing the MRE-style dish, we were treated to a mini Sichuanese Ma La hot pot that actually tasted like the real thing. It packed a solid spicy kick and left the same numbing sensation in the mouth that we have come to expect from Ma La hot pots. This is not only a good substitute for a restaurant hot pot but actually a plausible rival.
Taiwan has a second entry on our list with the TTL Sesame Oil Chinese Wine Chicken Noodle sitting at #3. The wheat flour noodles were swimming in an exquisite broth that featured Chinese wine, sesame oil and ginger flavors. If you’re a fan of using wine in cooking, you will love how every spoonful of broth gives you that warm Chinese wine aftertaste.
The noodles also came with its own pouch of well marinated chicken meat which were close enough in taste and texture to regular cooked chicken.
Surprise, surprise…#2 features yet another one from Taiwan that comes with real meat. It’s the TTL Hua Diao Pickled Vegetable Beef Noodle. The broth was brilliant. A really thick and flavorful beef broth that was well matched by some pickled vegetables.
The highlight though was the serving of real beef. The meat had the taste and texture of a traditional Chinese stew and as you can see from the photo above, TTL was very generous in the serving size. Top quality!
And sitting at #1 on The Ramen Noodlist 2018 Top Ten Instant Cup Noodles list is the MyKuali Penang Hokkien Prawn Rice Vermicelli Soup from Malaysia. MyKuali had an entry at #10 and here they are right at the top.
MyKuali created a faithful representation of the traditional Penang Hokkien Prawn Noodles (also commonly known as Penang Har Mee) with this delicious bowl. We have traveled frequently to Penang and we can honestly say that the broth here is as good or even better than many of the street-side food outlets in Penang.
The broth was unabashedly rich and strong with a sweet, sour and spicy flavor. The dried shrimp flavor that’s characteristic of Penang Har Mee was also distinctly prominent. The broth was so good that not a drop was left after we had done our tasting. This cup of noodles is thoroughly deserving of its #1 ranking.
So that’s it for our top ten list. We hope you’ll find it useful during your next supermarket trip when you’re picking up stuff to stock the pantry. We’d also love to hear your comments about our list. Are there noodles that should be on the list? Are there any that shouldn’t? Do drop us a message on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or good old email (ramennoodlist at gmail).