Arriving on campus as a freshman, I remember all of my friends talking about the wonders of instant noodles. A large part of my freshman diet consisted of instant noodles cooked in the pot of my dorm kitchen. For crying out loud, my grandma shipped me an entire box of my favorite noodles from Miami! My friends received care packages of treats and letters - I received noodles.

Since I grew up with Chinese grandparents, I am no stranger to the magical stroll down the instant noodle aisle of the Asian market. I felt this awe as a child running my fingers on each colorful plastic wrapped package. The flavors ranged from your average chicken to "artificial mushroom" and "abalone".

When I jumped into the conversation on noodles with my friends, I was h-o-r-r-i-f-i-e-d. Sentences like "Top Ramen is delicious!" and "I love to microwave Maruchan!" floated out of their lips. As my dinners have transformed into healthier meals in the past three years, I still enjoy the comforts of a quick hot bowl of noodles.

Here are a few of my absolute favorite instant noodles. These are the reigning instant noodles in my heart and down the aisle - they're conveniently cheap and incredibly delicious! (Note: none of these are in any specific order. I simply cannot rank these gems!)

1. MAMA Noodles

Jasmine Chi

This Thai noodle brand produces the savoriest of soups. The spicy pork flavored instant noodle is a staple of my childhood. The package comes with a soup base, dried scallions, and a small packet of hot chili oil. One package is typically a snack; two of these are a full meal. Additionally, if you are not in the mood for soup, this noodle is delicious cooked dry as well! Simply boil the noodles, drain them, and dump the seasoning in, mixing the powder through thoroughly.

2. NongShim Spicy Seafoood 

Jasmine Chi

By far, this is my favorite spicy noodle soup. It consists of a rich seafood broth, slices of Narutomaki, seaweed, and dried scallions. Narutomaki, although at first scary looking, is a fish cake decorated with a pink swirl meant to represent the whirlpools of the Naruto Strait in Japan. I personally also love to add large pieces of seaweed into this soup. Although it cannot match the spice of more traditionally popular South Korean noodles such as Shin Ramyun, the seafood broth really drives this one home!

3. Wu-Mu Ramen

Jasmine Chi

Included in my grandmother's care package, I found one of the gems of my childhood. Wu-Mu's ramen sets itself apart from its rivals by including dried cabbage and shallot pieces, enhancing the overall additions to the soup. The noodles, unlike the others I have recommended, are white, smooth, and chewy. The pork flavored broth is perfect with a few drops of spicy sesame oil. Like MAMA noodles, Wu-Mu noodles are delicious when cooked dry. The flavors are more concentrated and work coherently with the texture of the noodles. 

4. Nissin Demae Ramen

Jasmine Chi

As a child, I favored any eye-catching cartoon. Nissin's ramen boy does not fail on any front. Available in at least fifteen different flavors, a few favorites emerge. Seafood, XO, sesame oil, and chicken - each perfecting the specific tastes and qualities of each flavor.

Despite the lack in the variety of dried ingredients, each Nissin Demae Ramen package provides creamier flavored broths and skinnier textured noodles. If the ramen leaves you desiring a fuller meal, I recommend adding some fresh veggies in the soup to accompany the noodles.

5. Sapporo Ichiban

Jasmine Chi

Not the beer! This brand is similar to that of the Nissin ramen brand. The noodles come in diverse flavors such as beef, chicken, original, shrimp, etc. They provide a range of Japanese style broths reminiscent of the big bowls of noodles in ramen shops.

Since there are not many additional dried ingredients in these, adding other elements to these instant noodles can enrich the broth and flavor. I recommend adding bok choy or fresh scallions! The Sapporo brand is extremely common in Asian markets and is easily identifiable by its colorful packaging.

Tastes Like Home

ramen, vegetable, soup, noodle, pho
Madeline Craddock

I am a BIG broth girl to say the least. I understand and admire the hours it takes to create a wonderful broth. This is what makes instant noodles so special. The savory, instantaneous broths of each truly make these five the reigning champs down arguably the best aisle of the market. For even more information on instant noodles, check out this article discussing true facts. 

Below are a few links to explore more flavors of some of the noodles I listed:

MAMA noodles

Nongshim noodles

I would like to thank my grandmother for providing me with the "grandma-esque" photos of Wu-Mu Ramen and NongShim Spicy Seafood Ramen.