Boiling Down to the Best: Instant Noodles Ranked


Audrey Huang

It’s the new year. School is back in full swing and we’re just getting back into our usual routines. As we’re nearing the time for midterms and quarter-finals, we might resort to eating out, ordering, and cooking instant meals. One of the most common to-go choices is instant noodles. Because of its growing popularity over the last couple of years, I have decided to rank some of South High’s favorite instant noodles (as well as my own).

Each of the instant noodles was cooked according to each brand’s packaging instructions. The noodles were all cooked to an al dente texture and each component was added fully. Other than the instant noodle cups, the noodles were cooked on the stove. All can be found at a local HMart or any other Asian market.


1- Hong Ramen (mild) 🌶️

Brand: Ohsung

Pack includes: Noodles, 1 flavoring powder, dried vegetable pack

Cooking instructions: 550 mL (2.5 cups) boiled water, cook for 4 minutes after boiling

Sodium content: 2080 mg (90%)

Variety: Mild, spicy

Found in: HMart, Super FL Mart, IOG Supermarket


Hong instant noodles are my favorite from the bunch. It is my ultimate go-to ramen and is perfect for any occasion. 


Visually, the packaging is underwhelming. Nothing about it stands out from the dozens of other brands on the shelf. But you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover for this one. Overall, the texture and flavor of the noodles were the most enjoyable, and the portion was perfect for one person. 


It is marketed as a mild flavor. The broth is mildly salty, with a subtle hint of spice. It’s an enhanced version of an average, cheap cup of instant noodles. But, there is no specific flavor profile; it tastes delicious, but it doesn’t taste like any known food. Think of Kraft’s Mac and Cheese. It’s creamy and delicious, but it doesn’t taste like any cheese we eat. 


Right after the 4-minute mark, the noodles (a standard shape and thickness) were springy and had a good chew. With each pull, it was as if each noodle was dancing from my chopsticks. However, there could have been more vegetables in the pack.

The only downside was the slightly bland broth. I recommend adding less water and adjusting the flavoring according to your preference. 


Specialty tip: Put ½ to ⅔ of the flavoring packet into 500 mL of water and add in ½ can of Chicken of the Sea’s tuna! The salty fish flavor pairs perfectly with Hong’s simple salt flavor. 


Variety tip: Add kimchi to Hong’s spicy version! It enhances the spice level and adds a fresh, crunchy note to the broth.


Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐+1/2⭐


2 – Neoguri Spicy Seafood 🌶️🌶️🌶️+1/2🌶️

Brand: Nongshim

Pack includes: Noodles, 1 flavoring powder, dried vegetable pack

Cooking instructions: 500 mL (2 cups) boiled water, cook for 5 minutes after boiling

Serving: 2 people (although I find it’s great for one)

Sodium content: 1850 mg (80%) 

Variety: Mild, spicy seafood

Found in: HMart, Super FL Mart, some other Asian markets


Neoguri is my second favorite instant noodle. It has one of the longest cook times but is worth the wait. The most notable aspect of this ramen is its thick noodles. 


Almost “udon-like,” these noodles have the best texture, mouthfeel, and springiness all around. Because of its higher starch content and the perfect ratio of water to noodles, the soup thickened as its liquid cooked down, almost bordering on a spicy seafood sauce; this coated the noodles beautifully.


The dried seaweed was perfect with its unique spicy seafood flavor. My only critique is the amount of flavoring included. I would suggest only using ½ to ⅔ of the packet to avoid adding too much seafood flavor (and heat!). The spice on its own has no saltiness, but I would still recommend sticking to the same amount of water.


If you don’t mind its distinct scent and aftertaste, Nongshim is a great option when you’re craving seafood instant noodles. 


Specialty tip: Using the same amount of water, add in ⅓ of Neoguri’s flavoring, as well as a ¼ pack of Hong’s spicy flavoring to create a salty seafood spice flavor!


Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐


3 – Shin Ramyun (Black) 🌶️+1/2🌶️

Brand: Nongshim

Cup includes: Noodles, 2 flavoring powders, a dried vegetable assortment

Soaking instructions: Add boiled water to the fill line, wait for 4 minutes

Sodium content: 1110 mg (48%)

Variety: Red, black, light

Found in: HMart, Super FL Mart, most other Asian markets


Shin Black is my second runner-up choice. Unlike most other Korean instant noodles, it came with two different flavorings: one for spice and the other for a milky soup base. Not only did it have good heat, but the second packet added a unique flavor not common in instant noodles. Due to the white powder, the broth looked inviting and hearty and added a subtle milk flavor. The noodles also adhered better because of the soup’s slight viscosity. 


After pouring the boiling water into the cup, my hands burned while trying to pick it up. I recommend using a towel to hold it while eating and putting a plate on the lid while it soaks to ensure no heat escapes.


After 4 minutes, the noodles were cooked to a perfect al dente and had an ideal tenderness. On the other hand, the mushrooms were a bit undercooked and chewy. If you don’t mind slightly softer noodles, I suggest soaking them for another 1-2 minutes to ensure that the mushrooms have the perfect texture. Peppers, which added extra texture, were also included along with meat, which reminded me of fairly flavorless mini sausages.


I highly recommend that you keep to Nongshim’s instructions of adding all the packets, even if you don’t typically do so. It’s a unique taste that you won’t get in other brands. However, I don’t crave it more than Hong or Neoguri


Rating: ⭐⭐⭐


4 – Chapagetti

Brand: Nongshim

Pack includes: Noodles, 1 flavoring powder, dried vegetable pack, vegetable oil

Cooking instructions: 350 mL (1.5 cups) boiled water, cook for 4 minutes after boiling

Sodium content: 1100 mg (48%)

Variety: Chapaguri (Chapagetti + Neoguri)

Found in: HMart, Super FL Mart, IOG Supermarket


Right off the bat, Chapagetti is visually unique from the rest of the instant noodles. The thick noodles are coated in a luscious sauce, made primarily of black beans in a dish called jjajangmyeon


This instant noodle became known after the release of South Korea’s hit movie, Parasite. It’s well-known for one of its iconic scenes where the Park family is served Jjapaguri, an instant noodle hybrid of Chapagetti and Chapaguri, topped off with premium beef Hanwoo. I was looking forward to this instant noodle since it gained popularity. But it wasn’t all the rave I thought it would be.


I first noticed the amount of liquid left over. I was led to believe that most of the water would be cooked down, but I was surprised to see a fair amount of water that remained, which didn’t fulfill my rich sauce expectation.


The noodles were thick and springy, but most of its sauce slipped right past the noodle, giving it a bland flavor that wasn’t black bean-forward. Drinking the soup by itself wasn’t any better as there wasn’t much saltiness. The vegetables and meat added little bursts of texture throughout the meal but not enough for each bite.


When making this, I would definitely add less water, but cook it for the same amount of time to prevent the noodles from becoming soggy. That way, the noodles will be more evenly coated with a hopefully thicker sauce and still deliver a bite of chewy noodles. 


Rating: ⭐⭐+1/2⭐


5 – Cup Noodles (original)

Brand: Nissin

Cup includes: Noodles, flavoring, dried food assortment

Soaking instructions: Add boiled water to the fill line, wait for 3 minutes

Sodium content: 1530 mg (66%)

Variety: Curry, Seafood, Chicken, Shrimp, etc.

Found in: Any supermarket


When you think of instant noodles, the first thing you most likely think of is Cup Noodles. Even if there isn’t much that makes it stand out, this quintessential cup noodle has a pretty good eating experience. 


The insulated foam cup prevented my hands from burning, which allowed me to carry it around while letting it soak for 3 minutes (again, use a small plate to cover the top of the lid). 


When I opened the lid, a number of ingredients virtually popped out of the cup: the steamed egg, small meatballs, greens, and mini shrimp were all very inviting. They added the best texture to the noodles out of the six different brands, and each had its own distinct flavor. Unlike the others, the seasoning was already included in the cup, so all I had to do was add water.


The noodles have a soft, thin texture, but no chew or flavor. The thin noodles only sped up its sogginess rate and didn’t add much to the flat-tasting artificial chicken broth.


If you need a meal in a pinch, Cup Noodles has the shortest cook time and a decent flavor that can satisfy your hunger. But, if you’re looking for something of a punch in flavor, I’d recommend Shin Black.  


Rating: ⭐⭐+1/2⭐


6 – Buldak Ramyun (Hot Spicy Chicken) 🌶️🌶️🌶️🌶️

Brand: Samyang

Pack includes: Noodles, 1 flavoring sauce, dried seaweed pack

Cooking instructions: 600 mL (2.5 cups) boiled water, cook for 5 minutes after boiling, remove water leaving 8 tbsp

Sodium content: 1280 mg (56%)

Variety: Spicy x2, Kimchi, Curry, Corn, Carbonara, Cheese, etc.

Found in: HMart, Super FL Mart, most other Asian markets


Buldak has recently become one of the most popular instant noodles. Its popularity grew from social media’s viral spice tests, where people tried to eat its spiciest flavors in their entirety. Lots of people describe it to be exhilarating, but I found the experience to be unenjoyable. 


Besides the noodles themselves, as well as the sesame and seaweed flakes, the sauce is what I had trouble eating. In addition to its stir-fried nature, the unnaturally red color gave a great impression of its spiciness. It was thick, succulent, and flavorsome. But only at first.


After the first bite, the subtle sweet tomato flavor disappeared and was replaced by a relentless heat. I kept eating to hopefully experience the initial pleasant taste but was only returned with unbearable heat. Even 3 cups of water (and later lemonade) couldn’t extinguish the burning sensation.


Ten minutes after eating, other foods were unpalatable, and my entire stomach was fried. I can’t even imagine what the spicy x2 version tastes like. However, these noodles had the second-best texture overall (thickness similar to Shin), which paired perfectly with its thick sauce. The red sauce clung nicely to the noodles, which packed more spice into each bite (whether that’s a good or bad thing). 


If you are daring enough to try this, I recommend using only ½ of the flavoring sauce or another brand’s seasonings to substitute. This would be a fun challenge to do with friends and family, but I wouldn’t eat this on a regular basis. 


Rating: ⭐+1/2⭐

Happy eating!

My favorite Taiwanese instant noodles you should try:

  1. Tung-I Instant Rice Noodles
  2. Ve Wong Pork and Chicken
  3. Tung-I Instant Ramen Noodles