College students are pretty much ramen connoisseurs. We’ve mastered the art of making instant noodles in the middle of the night while trying to finish an essay or as a quick pick-me-up after a long day. As it turns out, not all heroes wear capes: we’re looking at you, Top Ramen.
As a personal thank you to all the cup/instant noodles I have consumed during my time as a college student (and even the times before), this article is a roundup of all the Asian cup noodles you need to try ASAP. You can get most of these noodles on Amazon or hopefully find it at your local Asian grocery store. Let’s hear it for MSG.
1. MAMA Noodles (Thailand)
Hailing from the Southeast Asian nation of Thailand, MAMA Noodles have brought me countless moments of full satisfaction during nights filled with papers but also when I just want a night in front of the TV with a bowl of hot noodles in front of me.
MAMA Noodles not only offers a huge (and I mean huge) range of flavors but also noodle types from vermicelli to your average ramen noodles, which is exactly why I wasn’t able to pick just one. Their flavors are true to the Thai palette (especially with the spice factor) and are guaranteed to give you a taste of Asia. Pictured above is just one of their most exclusive flavors: duck-flavored noodles.
2. Fuku Superior Soup (China)
The name in itself is already amazing. This packet of goodness isn’t your average packet of ramen. You can eat it three different ways and it shows you how right on the packet. You can make a bowl of soup noodles, a plate of dry, fried noodles or even crush the noodles in the packet and pour the seasoning over it for a crunchy snack. Revered around the world, Fuku is definitely a contender for the title of the ACTUAL top ramen.
3. Ibumie Har Mee (Malaysia)
Ibumie has long been a frontrunner on the Malaysian instant noodles scene with their chicken noodles, fried noodles, and even curry noodles, but their Har Mee (Chinese-Hokkien for Prawn Noodles) are second to none.
I grew up with these noodles being served as breakfast, lunch, or dinner, and I usually put a twist on them by adding chicken, prawns or even a fried egg on top. The broth pretty much mimics what an authentic bowl of Malaysian prawn noodles taste like and the fact that you could whip it up in a matter of minutes just makes it more appealing.
4. Nong Shim Shin Cup (South Korea)
Where there are instant noodles, there are Nong Shim Shin Cups (which also come in bowl size for those who can’t get enough). With their bright red cups, these cup noodles are hard to miss, and if you haven’t had one in your life, do you even know instant ramen? Nong Shim produces countless types of instant noodles, but these are definitely their signature noodles so you need to give them a shot.
5. Nissin UFO (Japan)
UFO is probably one of the most famous instant noodles on the market in this East Asian nation. UFO noodles are dry noodles that take after one of Japan’s signature dishes, yakisoba, a dry noodle dish seasoned with special soy sauce and dried vegetables. It even comes in an XL size, dubbed UFO BIG, for those who just can’t get enough of this unique dish.
#SpoonTip: Add some pan-fried pork slices or bacon to give it a little fatty kick.
6. Nissin Curry Cup Noodles (Japan)
With their own ramen museum in Yokohama, Japan, you best believe Nissin is the god of all cup noodle manufacturing. One flavor that the rest of the world just can’t seem to get right that Nissin can is the curry flavor. Nissin perfects the Japanese curry flavor and has been perfecting it for years now, which just means that you need to get your hands on this cup of perfect as soon as possible.
7. Indomie Mee Goreng (Indonesia)
Probably my all-time favorite instant noodles, Indomie Mee Goreng is the 3-minute take on a revered dish around Malaysia and Indonesia: mee goreng, which is a fried noodle dish. The packet comes with flavored garlic oil, flavoring powder, chili flakes, and dark soy sauce for you to season your noodles with.
#SpoonTip: Add a fried egg, scallions, fried garlic, and some chicken to make it more of a meal. No other mee goreng instant noodles trump Indomie’s Mee Goreng.
8. Sao Tao Hong Kong-style Lobster Noodles (Hong Kong)
These instant noodles aren’t your ordinary instant noodles. This bowl of Hong Kong-style Lobster Noodles is served with traditional egg noodles instead of ramen noodles. The noodles are thin and when cooked perfectly provide a little ‘crunch’ to your noodle bowl. The taste of the soup is uniquely Asian and mirrors the staple Hong Kong dish perfectly. This bowl is perfect for college kids wanting a little taste of lobster without burning a hole in our wallets. Plus, we get noodles with it.
9. Nissin Doll Brand Noodles (Japan)
This line of Nissin noodles offers so much variety of flavors that I, yet again, regrettably could not pick just one. My personal favorites include their Thai Creamy Tom Yum, Beef, Japanese Tonkatsu, and the spicy seafood flavor. The ramen noodles aren’t too thick so they would never get oversoaked or overcooked and will almost always be al dente when you cook it the right amount of time. Their broths are one-of-a-kind and will most definitely satisfy any instant noodle cravings you have.
#SpoonTip: Instead of serving the noodles with soup, cook the noodles then fry them with the flavoring powder and oil to whip up a fresh plate of fried ramen perfect for a drunken night.
10. Midori no Tanuki (Japan)
Japan seems to be the land of instant noodles, and it would be an injustice if Midori no Tanuki wasn’t included in the top instant noodles list. This bowl is full of rich flavors, and the noodles aren’t ramen but another one of Japan’s signature noodles: soba, which makes it even more interesting. With bonito stock and a dried tempura topping, this bowl of goodness should definitely not be left out of your instant noodle experience.