It all started with Top Ramen growing up; then they came out with something called Roasted Ramen, noodles that already had the seasoning in them, no packet included! But it was when my parents took me to a big Japanese grocery in Seattle, in the heart of the International District, that my instant noodle world was rocked. They stocked Chikin Ramen, Nissin's first instant noodle in 1958, and plenty of others.
There I was, at age 12, looking at all the instant noodle varieties—the different colored packaging, the foreign characters, the funny drawings.
Over 30 years later, after sampling over 650 different unique varieties, I'll be the first to admit that they're not all enjoyable. So here's the Ramen Rater's official list of funny, strange, and gross instant noodles.
1. Batchelor's Super Noodles: Bacon Flavour
We have the British to thank for these bacon instant noodles. Pair 'em with eggs and toast and t's actually pretty great stuff. But, you should know, the rest of the day your burps will taste like bacon. This one was sent to me by a Ramen Rater fan in England who also included about two dozen other fascinating packs with flavors such as Curry, Sweet & Sour, and Southern Fried Chicken.
2. Mexi-Ramen Soupless Ramen Shallot Teriyaki Flavor
Shallots and teriyaki? What does this have to do with Mexico? Well, the company also makes Chicken Habanero and Spicy Shrimp flavors (vaguely...Mexican). Sent to me as a gift from my in-laws in California, this was the 500th instant noodle I reviewed.
3. Rocket Brand Satoimo Noodles
Purple noodles eh? Weird. Couldn't pass them up, and actually, they were quite good. Makes for a colorful dinner plate. Purchased these at the Seattle Uwajimaya Asian supermarket.
4. Koka's Seasonal Ingredients
Seasonal? What's amazing is they actually change the packets depending on the season's availability. Fascinating for flavor packets, right? Sprinkle on the vegetable-based garnishes at the very end to add a fresh bit of crunch. Koka noodles, which hail from Singapore,are great. Another purchase from 99 Ranch Market.
5. Knorr Pizza Instant Noodles
Pizza instant noodles! Where are they from? Pakistan. Does it taste like pizza? Kind of! It's a little reminiscent of grocery store frozen pizza. Spotted these between some expired masala instant noodles at a Middle-Eastern grocery just north of Seattle.
6. Fuku Superior Soup
I'm sure you can use your imagination as to how "Fuku" should be pronounced. The instructions on the back are pretty interesting as well—"just eat it raw," it suggests. My sister brought this ramen back from Canada but it's imported from Hong Kong.
7. Tiger Brand Food Onion Flaver Bowl Rice Noodles
The "flaver" on this one was horrible. It scored a zero out of five stars, which is extremely rare for the Ramen Rater. It's from Taiwan, purchased at a Seattle-area 99 Ranch Market.
8. Mayonnaise/Mustard Packet
There's something strange and wonderful about this dual-chambered mayonnaise and mustard packet. It's from Japan of course, the land of packaging gods. You squeeze it together with two fingers as shown and put it on the noodles after they're cooked. Go ahead and write your name in mayostard if you want. What's more, it's really good on top of this Nissin Yakisoba, purchased at a Japanese grocery in Seattle called Uwajimaya.
9. Super Bihun Goreng Instant Fried Rice Noodles
These Indonesian noodles definitely win for weirdest packaging. The image depicts a fake-looking egg and chicken drumstick haphazardly tossed in with the noodles. Their logo looks like a bomb and a heart. Found in Seattle at a great little store called Viet Wah—which has a huge selection of instant noodles and thumping dance music—these are some great noodles.
10. Baijia Instant Sweet Potato Noodle Spicy Fei-Chang Flavor
From what I've been told, this translates to "fatty pork intestine" flavor. It's apparently very authentic in China's Sichuan area but it was one of the worst ramens I've ever tried. Nothing about the photo looks appetizing, right?