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Hunt for the best: spicy soup instant noodle

WE’RE back with the second instalment of our instant noodle review, and this week’s hunt for the best spicy soup instant noodles left the mouths of our taste testers burning. We swept every spicy soup instant noodle variety we could find at Yahweh Asian Grocery into our shopping basket, and boy were there are a lot of noodles – 15 contenders from the just plain chilli-filled to flavours like kimchi, tom yum, curry and assam-laksa. Now, where was that glass of water? Jowee Tee reports.

Fifteen contenders in the running for our hunt for the best spicy soup instant noodles. Photo: Wan Shing Lang

Fifteen contenders in the running for our hunt for the best spicy soup instant noodles. Photo: Wan Shing Lang

Our taste test was judged according to the same criteria as our last review (taste, texture, appearance, accuracy to packet instructions), with a new measure  added to the mix – i.e. how spicy it was. We scored on a scale of 1 to 5 for each category, and gave each product an overall score:

  • 1 = hmm… interesting
  • 2 = eat when desperate
  • 3 = predictable but good
  • 4 = pantry must have
  • 5 = almost gourmet

Photo: Wan Shing Lang

Local flavours for those hankering after a taste of home. Photo: Wan Shing Lang

 

 

Contender #1: Maggi Assam Laksa

 

  • Taste: 3.1
  • Texture: 3.4
  • Appearance: 2.6
  • Accuracy to packet instructions: 3
  • Spice level: 2.1
  • Affordability: $0.65 for a 78g packet

 

Gone are the days of just plain chicken or beef flavoured noodles, and Maggi has worked hard to stay in the game with the flood of new players entering the market. The thought of digging into an Assam Laksa appealed to our testers, and we have to admit we were more than a little disappointed when we tasted this one. We walked away with a sour tinge in our mouth, and it could have done with more depth in flavour. But hey, brand loyalty does go a long way for a household name like Maggi, as one of our admitted her soft spot for a product she had grown up with.

Overall score: 2.8/5

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Contender #2: Myojo Singapore Sambal (with chicken ramen)

 

  • Taste: 2.7
  • Texture: 4.3
  • Appearance: 2.5
  • Accuracy to packet instructions: 2.8
  • Spice level: 1.6
  • Affordability: $0.60 for a 92g packet

 

We had mixed feelings about the Myojo Singapore Sambal. The noodles earned great reviews from our testers for standout texture, but like a lot of the other Myojo brands, we found it very salty. It could also have done with more sambal. Other side notes: we had a lot of difficulty removing the seasoning paste from its pouch and it didn’t take long for the noodles to soak up the all the soup stock. So slurp it down quickly to avoid being left with “dry noodles” at the end.

Overall score: 2.8/5

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Contender #3: Myojo Singapore Laksa

 

  • Taste: 3.6
  • Texture: 4
  • Appearance: 2.8
  • Accuracy to packet instructions: 3.5
  • Spice level: 1.8
  • Affordability: $0.50 for a 85g packet

 

This was supposed to be Singapore Laksa, but a number of our testers felt it tasted more like Prawn Mee (not that we minded). It was probably because the orange-coloured soup reminded us of prawn stock made from frying up prawn shells and simmering in water. We don’t recommend this brand if you are hoping to satisfy a laksa craving; but all in all, the flavour’s pretty good.

 

Overall score: 3.1/5

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Contender #4: Myojo Singapore Curry

 

  • Taste: 2.9
  • Texture: 3.5
  • Appearance: 2.8
  • Accuracy to packet instructions: 3.5
  • Spice level: 1.9
  • Affordability: $0.60 for a 85g packet

 

Though nothing beats the real deal, Myojo’s Singapore Curry does contain some hints of curry as we know it. Our biggest complaint – the curry “sauce” which tasted rather powdery.

Overall score: 2.9/ 5

 

 

Mama Thai Minced Pork instant noodles. Photo: Wan Shing Lang

Mama Thai Minced Pork instant noodles. Photo: Wan Shing Lang

Contender #5: Mama Mince Pork Flavor

 

  • Taste: 3.5
  • Texture: 2.3
  • Appearance: 2.9
  • Accuracy to packet instructions: 2.9
  • Spice level: 1.8
  • Affordability: $0.38 for a 60g packet

 

You know how some instant noodles can be eaten raw? This was one of them. In fact, it probably did better raw than cooked. We did get a nice, clear, fragrant broth though, but the noodles were too soft and a little soggy despite following packet instructions.

Overall score: 2.7/5

Who's the fairest tom yum of them all? Mama's, we think! Photo: Wan Shing Lang

Who's the fairest tom yum of them all? Mama's, we think! Photo: Wan Shing Lang

 

 

Contender #6: Maggi Tom Yum

 

  • Taste: 2.3
  • Texture: 2.8
  • Appearance: 2.1
  • Accuracy to packet instructions: 3.4
  • Spice level: 2.3
  • Affordability: $0.65 for a 83g packet

 

We tasted a number of tom yum flavoured instant noodles in this review, and this was the weakest of the lot. It was sour and tangy, and umm, strangely peppery.

Overall score: 2.6/5

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Contender #7: Mama Creamy Tom Yum – our top tom yum pick

 

  • Taste: 4.4
  • Texture: 3
  • Appearance: 3.9
  • Accuracy to packet instructions: 2.8
  • Spice level: 3.3
  • Affordability: $0.38 for a 55g packet

 

We loved loved loved this Mama Creamy Tom Yum, and the clear winner  in the tom yum category. Bonus points for authenticity as it looked, smelled and tasted just as we had imagined it would: milky orange, spicy and tangy with the fragrance of lemongrass. The noodles also have a nice bite to if for those who like their noodles al dente. Our recommendation – keep a packet of this in your pantry for that cold winter day.

Overall score: 3.5/5

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Contender #8: Myojo Thai Tom Yum

 

  • Taste: 4.8
  • Texture: 3.6
  • Appearance: 2.3
  • Accuracy to packet instructions: 3.6
  • Spice level: 3.3
  • Affordability: $0.60 for a 85g packet

 

Kudos to Myojo for the Thai Tom Yum, which had the right heat-to-tangy ratio. There was also a depth of flavour to this tom yum which we didn’t find in Maggi’s. For those who need something more substantial, this is a good pick. It comes in an 85g packet compared to the tiny 55g Mama Creamy Tom Yum.

Overall score: 3.5/5

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Contender #9: Nissin Demae Ramen Spicy Flavour

 

  • Taste: 1.5
  • Texture: 2.9
  • Appearance: 2.6
  • Accuracy to packet instructions: 4
  • Spice level: 0
  • Affordability: $0.75 for a 100g packet

 

Unfortunately, the Nissin Demae Ramen was the most uninspiring of the entire lot we tried in this review. All we could taste was sodium, and though the packet said “spicy”, it registered a grand “0″ on our spiciness scale.

 

Overall score: 2.2/5

Nong Shin Neoguri (Seafood and Spicy). Photo: Wan Shing Lang

Nong Shin Neoguri (Seafood and Spicy). Photo: Wan Shing Lang

Contender #10: Nong Shim Neoguri (Seafood & Spicy)

 

  • Taste: 4
  • Texture: 3.6
  • Appearance: 3.8
  • Accuracy to packet instructions: 4
  • Spice level: 3
  • Affordability: $1.40 for a 120g packet

 

This was the priciest one of the lot, but totally worth your dough. Fat springy noodles in a piping hot bowl of fragrant seafood broth. Ingredients like seaweed also gave the noodles extra oomph. There’s so much to like about this one.

Overall score: 3.7/5

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Contender #11: Nong Shim Shin Ramyun (hot and spicy)

 

  • Taste: 4
  • Texture: 3.6
  • Appearance: 4
  • Accuracy to packet instructions: 4
  • Spice level: 4.4
  • Affordability: $0.90 for a 120g packet

 

They weren’t joking when they said these noodles would be hot and spicy. We scored it a 4.4 out of 5 on the spiciness scale and boy did it burn in our mouths and all the way down our throats. But it did leave a nice warm feeling in our tummies afterwards. High scores for flavour too.

Overall score: 4/5

 

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Contender #12: Paldo Kimchi

 

  • Taste: 2.6
  • Texture: 2.5
  • Appearance: 3
  • Accuracy to packet instructions: 4
  • Spice level: 3.5
  • Affordability: $0.90 for a 120g packet

 

The Paldo Kimchi failed to make much of an impression apart from the heat of the chilli powder which pretty much overwhelmed everything else. The noodles were also rather hard after the advised four-minute cooking time.

 

Overall score: 3/5

The Jinmailang range was hot hot hot. Look, it even comes with picture instructions! Photo: Wan Shing Lang

The Jinmailang range was hot hot hot. Look, it even comes with picture instructions! Photo: Wan Shing Lang

 

 

Contender #13: Jinmailang Spicy Pork

 

  • Taste: 4
  • Texture: 3.6
  • Appearance: 3.4
  • Accuracy to packet instructions: 4
  • Spice level: 3.5
  • Affordability: $0.75 for a 112g packet

 

Jinmailang’s spicy pork flavoured instant noodles was definitely one of the most unique varieties we’ve come across. It had very “Chinese” flavours, complete with the smell of pork, and the intensity of heat you would expect only from dried chillies. And for the uninitiated to the world of instant, Jinmailang’s products actually come with picture instructions to help you achieve the art of perfect noodle cooking.

Overall score: 3.7/5

 

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Contender #14: Jinmailang Spicy Chicken

 

  • Taste: 2.9
  • Texture: 3.6
  • Appearance: 3.6
  • Accuracy to packet instructions: 4
  • Spice level: 3.3
  • Affordability: $0.75 for a 112g packet

 

Those who love spicy food would know there are different types of spicy. This one leaves your tongue and lips feeling a little numb. No wonder we couldn’t taste much else.

 

Overall score: 3.5/5

 

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Contender #15: Jinmailang Spicy Beef

 

  • Taste: 3.6
  • Texture: 3.5
  • Appearance: 3.6
  • Accuracy to packet instructions: 4
  • Spice level: 3.5
  • Affordability: $0.80 for a 112g packet

 

Jinmailang’s Spicy Beef tasted as deadly as it looked. It contained big bold flavours, and packed more punch than the spicy chicken (contender #15). It was also five cents dearer than the previous two Jinmailang flavours we reviewed. One of our testers rated this her favourite.

Overall score: 3.6/5

Fifteen contenders in the running for our hunt for the best spicy soup instant noodles. Photo: Wan Shing Lang

Fifteen contenders in the running for our hunt for the best spicy soup instant noodles. Photo: Wan Shing Lang

Final thoughts

Jinmailang’s Spicy Pork had the highest rating for best overall flavour, but it was  Nong Shim’s Shin Ramyun that took home the crown for being the most spicy soup instant noodle.

Overall, the standout brands in this review were Nong Shim and Jinmailang, which were also the spiciest instant noodle varieties of the lot we reviewed. We also want to give special mention to Mama’s Creamy Tom Yum for taste and authenticity. Myojo’s Thai Tom Yum wasn’t far off either.

And finally, we’ve got a few suggestions for how you could amp up the taste of your instant noodles. It’s amazing what an extra egg or two can do to enhance flavour – you could whisk the eggs in or “poach” it if you like to maintain the integrity of your egg and have the joy of poking a fork through the runny yolk after. Greens are not just good for your health, but also great for imparting a sweetness to the soup stock. Popular ones are Chinese cabbage, bok choy, French beans, or frozen vegetables mixes. For something a little bit more fancy, try adding Enoki mushrooms.

Enjoy!

1 comment on this postSubmit yours
  1. Hi nice article but I’d like to point out that I’ve eaten a few instant noodles in my day and the one I stick with, and have plenty of in the house, is Mama’s mince pork noodles. If you follow the instructions then yes the noodles will suck. I always boiled mine in a pot with 12oz or so of water, making sure it doesn’t evaporate too much and add more if it does. I throw in 2-3 large shrimps with the shell on to add a seafood flavor with the pork and its wonderful. Then after cooking the noodles at boiling for about 5 minutes I crack in an egg and keep stirring so it becomes like an egg drop noodle soup. The outcome is the most delicious noodles to ever come out of a package.

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