Instant noodles originated in 1958 in Japan, but since that time, they've expanded in popularity all over the world, including, of course, the United States. Seeing this, instant noodle companies thought it wise to start building plants here in the 1970s. Since then, many brands have opened factories here in the US, mostly in southern California. This is a list of my favorite varieties produced in the States, encompassing my over 1,100 reviews to date. With that, here's your top ten, America!
#10: Nongshim Shin Bowl Noodle SoupShin Ramyun is one of the most popular instant noodles in South Korea. It's spicy and beefy. This one here has that same great flavor, and it's microwaveable! A while back, they changed the formula for their noodles, and although they were great before, they're even better now.
#9: Nissin Top Ramen Short Cuts Roast Chicken Flavor Ramen Noodle SoupNissin came out with this new line of noodles fairly recently. What's unique about them is that they come as a large box with a bag of seasoned noodles. You can use as little or as much as you like. The noodles are short and broad with a 'comfort food' appeal and a nice roast chicken flavor.
#8: Maruchan Bowl Hot & Spicy Shrimp Flavor Ramen Noodles With VegetablesMaruchan has been known for a long time for their Instant Lunch line of noodles cups, but here we have something new for them—bowls! This one stood out for me—it's full of high-quality noodles with a little kick of heat to them. Spicy, but not so spicy most couldn't handle it.
#7: Nissin Top Ramen Cucharealo Home-Style Picante Chicken FlavorThis is a serious fusion: the noodles are short and thin. I remember noodles kind of like these in other products when I was a kid, but always felt like I was getting way more soup than noodles. This one quells that need for more noodles—there's plenty of them. The picante chicken flavor is excellent, with notes of chili powder and cumin.
#6: Nissin Chow Mein Spicy Teriyaki Beef Flavor Chow Mein NoodlesI would have never thought that mixing teriyaki and spicy heat together would work, but it does. The combination is a winner, especially since the sauce coats everything so well. The vegetables hydrate nicely and it's an all around great meal.
#5: Nongshim Chapagetti Roasted Chajang NoodleThick, slightly chewy noodles in a rich black bean sauce—good stuff, all the more because you can make it in the microwave. It uses just a little water and the finished product sucks it all up, leaving you with nice, saucy noodles.
#4: Maruchan Creamy Chicken Flavor Ramen Noodle SoupI absolutely adore this stuff. Take your standard instant noodle and add a nice creamy chicken flavor. The broth has a really nice 'stick to your ribs' way about it. Whenever I'm under the weather, this is my go-to comfort noodle.
#3: Nongshim Shin Ramyun Black Premium Noodle SoupAfter twenty years of manufacturing Shin Ramyun, Nongshim decided to upgrade it. Enter Shin Ramyun Black. It has a richer broth, great noodles, and an amazing packet with nice veggies and beef—yes, beef. This one has little pieces of freeze dried beef that spring to life—and have an enjoyable chew and flavor!
#2: Sapporo Ichiban Japanese Style Noodles Chow MeinThis one requires a different approach to cooking, but it really pays off in the end. The noodles are cooked in very little water, which they slurp up rather quickly. Then you stir in the flavor packet and you've got some exceedingly wonderful chow. The flavor is reminiscent of yakisoba sauce; kind of a Worcestershire sauce thing going on. Then the fun part—a little packet of 'green laver' (powdered seaweed) is supplied for you to sprinkle on top. With it or without it, this one's worth your time to try.
#1: Nongshim Jinjja Jinjja Flamin' Hot & Nutty Noodle SoupFor regular followers of The Ramen Rater, this should be no surprise. I have been touting the greatness of this one back when it was only produced in South Korea. Happily, they make it in southern California now. Jinjja Jinjja (translates to Really Really) is a sumptuous sojourn to flavorland. Ramyun noodles are a little thicker and a little chewier than others. Combine that with a spicy and hearty pork broth, nice veggies and a packet with black sesame seeds and peanut powder. The result is absolutely perfect.
About the Author: For more info about these and the over 1,000 different other varieties, check out The Ramen Rater.