A Definitive Ranking of Instant Ramen Bowls

Maya Barany, Writer

It was two years ago when I found one of my favorite foods, real Japanese ramen. Now, like an addict chasing my first high, I’ve tried to find the best out of the shallow replacements to get my fix. Living in Helena is a curse for my affliction, as the best instant ramen is from Asian grocery stores that we do not have. Furthermore, the restaurant prices are too much for my high school budget. Given this situation, I have hand-picked the best ramen in the grocery store and here is what I have found. 

Disclaimer: Most of these are of the spicy variety, because the non-spicy kinds aren’t even worth reviewing. Spicy store-bought ramen is the only thing that doesn’t taste like hot seawater and cardboard. 

To start this off, the classic cup noodles is one of the worst. Sure it’ll do if it’s all there is or if you only have a dollar for the Catty Shack, but is it really inspired? The basic flavors at U.S grocery stores aren’t worth the 30 cents. The foreign varieties and niche flavors from Nissin are a rare good find, but overall the regular soup flavors (chicken, beef, and shrimp) taste like plain salt water. Rating 2/10 

Nongshim Gourmet Spicy Bowl

This large bowl had promise; however, it didn’t live up to expectations. The noodles were tube shaped and didn’t absorb any of the spice from the broth, leaving it all to settle in the bottom and make the presentation of this bowl look a bit sad. The flavor of the broth is very spicy with a sweet chile and vegetable aftertaste that would have been better with different noodles and possibly some added ingredients. This one gets a solid 4/10 for effort.

For a quick school lunch, the Maruchan hot and spicy flavors are probably the best for convenience and portion size. It’s surprisingly spicy, but it’s got a sort of chemical taste that is slightly alarming. For the sake of transparency, this brand contains the preservative TBHQ that has been linked to neurologic damage in large amounts so I usually only eat this on rare occasions. It’s still a decent snack in moderation, and the noodles get a bonus point for not getting soggy, bringing this to a 6/10.

Surprisingly, this one is amazing. Instead of a few sad dehydrated peas and corn, this has a full serving of vegetables with peppers, broccoli and carrots. The vegetables add to the soup base making this flavor one of the best, without needing any extra ingredients. This reformulated recipe is so good it doesn’t rely on as much sodium and has 48% of the daily recommended value compared to 55% in the previous soup. All the varieties of this line are good, but of all the chicken flavors here, the Very Veggie is the most “real”. The hearty cumin and onion broth, vegetables, and classic noodles make this a 8/10.

A Taste of Asia Spicy Miso Bowl

This one is the most superior american bowl I have found so far. It’s got a lightly spicy, rich miso broth with perfect thick noodles. Slightly alarming, however, are the little dehydrated bits of meat. They’re a little suspect, and it’s best to pretend they aren’t there. The flavor of 

the broth and noodles make up for it though, making this one the best at 9/10.

Honorable mentions for runners up are: Maruchan Chicken Tortilla 6/10, Sapporo Ichiban Miso Ramen 6/10, and the Snapdragon Vietnamese Pho Bowl 8/10.

Photos from nissinfoods.com, maruchan.com, and nogshimusa.com

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