Guide to eating good ramen…

Found this really good article at arainyday@wordpress… will tell me later if it is true or not….

but before that, have you seen this Mr. Tube Channel??  Simon and Martina they are so funny!!!

visit the link since I can not post the video they made for Ramen Guide for Foreigners..

Now the article…

Ando Momofuku was the founder and chairman of Nissin Food Products Co, Ltd. He is also the inventor of the first cup noodles and instant noodles, otherwise known as ramen noodles or ramen cup noodles.

Ah, ramen noodles. Oh, how I love thee. You come in many different flavors, easy to make, and you’re cheap. Which is wonderful to poor college students. MSG never tasted so good. Mmmmmm…

Now, in the US the top brands are the Japanese brands, Nissin and Maruchan. The most common forms for any brand of ramen is either in a cup or in bricks (inside plastic packages). However, Americans in general haven’t been exposed to the good stuff. Nissin and Maruchan’s cup noodles are crap. The noodles are cheap quality (of course, what do you expect from something that costs less then 30 cents a pack?) and the broth tastes like generic salty soup. The instant noodle bricks have better quality noodles and the broth still tastes like generic salty soup, but it’s somewhat better. Nissin also makes some other products that are just… bleh. Their souper meals, noodle soups (completely different from ramen), and chow mein are just made of very cheap and disgusting noodles and the actual broth tastes horrible. At least Maruchan has a variety of flavors in their ramen than Nissin.

But alas, nothing is compared to the slightly more expensive (but still cheap) ramen found in Asian supermarkets throughout the country. Of course, the price is slightly higher than what you would find at your local grocery store for two reasons: it has to be imported from Asia, so obviously there are tariffs and whatnot that has to be paid for; and there is the whole “you get what you pay for” — let’s face it the more expensive foods taste better than something you can find at the corner convenience store. If you happen to want to try the imported ramen, you may be overwhelmed by the sheer amount of ramen in the store. Many of the larger stores where there is a large Asian population tend to have a gigantic aisle devoted to ramen alone! So many brands and flavors — where does one start?

That is where I come in. I have been eating ramen since I was a small child. Throughout the years I have tasted many good and many bad kinds of ramen, and I’ve come to one conclusion: Korean ramen (ramyeon as they call it) is the best, hands down. The worst ramen I’ve tasted are Thai, Vietnamese, and Chinese varieties. The broth is pretty good for some, but every one of them have noodles that are even worse than Nissin’s Cup Noodles. The noodles have a very hard and rough texture no matter how long you let them soak in the boiling water or broth. I would suggest that you avoid all of the brands that are from the three countries.

Going back to Korean ramyeon, the best and most popular brand is Nong Shim. Besides ramyeon, they are also the makers of my favorite shrimp crackers. Most of their products are very good, and what is unique about them is that the brick for the instant noodles are actually circle shaped instead of the usual square/rectangle. The noodle quality for every single one of their products is excellent. Nice, thick noodles that are just wonderful. Just a bit of a warning is that most of their products are quite spicy, since Korean food is known to be very spicy. Unfortunately for vegetarians, the only vegetarian ramyeon Nong Shim makes is only available in Korea. Their products come in the forms of cups, bowls, and bricks.

Products that I highly recommend from Nong Shim: Shinramyun, seafood ramyun, all of their bowl noodles (except the chajang flavored), and Mupama.

Products that I didn’t find quite tasty: Chajang Chapagetti and chajang bowl noodle. It’s the only one they make that isn’t spicy, but it has a very weird flavor. It’s a bit salty, sweet, and slightly sour. It’s hard to describe the taste, but I didn’t really enjoy it. The noodles were wonderful though. Here is the description on Nong Shim’s website:

“It is a new style black noodle, adding Chajang paste to the soft texture of spaghetti. As it contains chajang soup made of Chinese soybean paste and onion, it maintains the originality of genuine Chinese black noodle. The ingredients such as carrots, onions and meats as well as olive oil stimulate appetite.”

Wait, is this supposed to be some kind of instant ja-jang myeon? I really hope not, because I’ve always wanted to try it (never had a chance to, since there are no Korean restaurants where I live). Maybe it’s like instant phở, and should only be enjoyed in it’s authentic form rather than it’s crappy instant form.

How to know if your ramen is good quality before you cook it:

  1. It must be from an Asian grocery store.
  2. The packaging has some or is entirely in Korean.
  3. When feeling the package of ramen in your hand, note how thick the noodles are in dry form.
  4. Thicker noodles equal better quality. The thicker noodles are able to absorb more water/broth, therefore they’re much softer and enjoyable.
  5. Pay attention to the pictures on the packaging. See if the noodles are thick in the pictures. If not, then don’t buy it.
  6. The price should be higher than the usual prices you see at the local grocery store.

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