There’s no shame in being a college student sustained by perpetual ramen consumption. But undoubtedly, it can become a mundane fallback that loses its sense of adventure. However, ramen doesn’t have to become a meal without any thrill. Here are 5 things you can easily incorporate into your next bowl of noodles to inspire some zest.

1. Try New Brands of Ramen & Noodles

The fallback brands of ramen for many college students are Cup Ramen or Maruchan. While they're undoubtedly staples, there are a whole variety of ramen brands that pack more flavor for your dollar. Try considering even a dry noodle brand, such as IndoMie or Chapagetti. These noodles are not broth-based: you simply boil the noodles, drain the water, and then add the flavor packets! If you're a spice lover, try Buldak noodles to test your spice tolerance.

Indomie is a brand conceptualized and widely popular in Indonesia. The flavor is sourced from a provided pack of soy sauce, powdered seasoning, chili oil, and regular seasoning oil. The cut of egg noodles provided coincide beautifully with all of the sauces provided to make for a mild yet savory bite. The brand itself does not solely produce dry noodles. They have an expansive selection of other noodles, soup-based or non-soup based, that are each enriching in their own way.

Chapagetti is a form of dry noodles that is widely consumed in Korea. Chapagetti is a quick and easy version of jjajangmyeon, otherwise known as black-bean noodles. The provided paste that comes with Chapagetti packets is a dark and rich sauce that allows the noodles to swim and absorb its flavor. While it doesn’t come with any spice, you are definitely allowed to incorporate some to give it a kick.

Buldak noodles are another trademark that is widely appreciated in Korea. The staple of every package is Hochi, the Samyang brand’s beloved chicken mascot. The intense spiciness is sourced from Korea’s famous gochujang and gochugaru, a red pepper paste and powder that are brazenly fierce and sharp. If you’re apprehensive to jump into these depths of the Scoville unit, you can ease your way into Samyang’s variety with their Carbonara noodles. This pack lends a delightful blend of creamy and spicy, with a garnish of parsley.

Other beloved brands of soup-based noodles are Shin Ramyeon or Mama brand noodles. Mama also specializes in pho ramen which offers a deliciously comforting chicken broth. 

2. Green Onions

Otherwise known as scallions or spring onions, this is one of the easiest ways to subtly enhance your ramen. Green onions are a classic garnish across many different Asian dishes. 

Scallions provide an additional mellow note of onion to each bite and can be incorporated as strongly as you wish. What makes scallions such a delightful complement is it’s not only an accessory that enhances the beauty of your bowl, but it also amplifies your noodles with their fresh quality.

One bundle should do the trick! When you're ready to eat, take one stalk and cut it in half. Place the halves together and chop them into thin pieces to add on top of your noodles. To preserve the rest of your stalk, keep them fresh by storing them in an air-tight bag and storing them in the coolest part of your fridge.

3. Cheese

Emily Rice

Cheese is actually one of the most popular ramen additions in Korea. It pairs best with spicy broths, most notably Shin Ramyeon. While cheese may seem like an alarming additive, it’s one of the easiest and most promising.

This dairy incorporation became popularized after the Korean War when there was a supplement of left-over non-perishables brought over by the American troops. Ever since, Korea has resourced these ingredients and reimagined them into Korean staples such as budea jjigae, or Korean Army Stew. Cheese provides an added creaminess to the broth that’s both luscious and filling.

Try it yourself by purchasing a pack of Kraft American Singles from your local grocery store, the most notable brand that has become married to Korean ramen. When your noodles are about to finish cooking, simply place a slice on top of the noodles and allow it to soften. It should only take about a minute! Then your spicy noodles are ready to eat with a cheesy twist.

4. Garlic or Garlic Powder

This is a secret weapon that will work with any kind of soup-based noodles. If you're inclined to chef it up, take a clove of garlic and thinly dice it. Let it boil into your broth as you make your noodles.

Garlic powder will also do the trick if you're looking for a more convenient way to achieve the same flavor. Garlic powder can be added to soup-based and dry noodles during the assembly of provided seasoning. All it takes is a modest sprinkle. And, if you're a garlic lover, you can always measure how much you'd like to add — season to your heart's desire!

5. Seaweed

This is definitely one of my favorite additions to any late-night ramen I eat. Individual seaweed packets work great and can be purchased at the Max C-Store at Emerson Piano Row.

You can either add pieces to your soup to soften it, or you can eat them on the side as a crunchy side dish. Either way is equally as delicious. However, I enjoy taking a piece between my chopsticks and scooping them up with my noodles for an enticing bite. There are many different ways to be creative with seaweed, so try any method when making noodles.