My boyfriend, Tim Sohl, a student at Metropolitan Community College, was born in South Korea and adopted as a baby. Although he was raised by white parents, he is still an expert in Asian cuisine.
We decided to take this article to a date night level and taste-test some new and interesting Ramen brands. We found all of these products at our local Asian market, because we felt that everyone would know about Cup-O-Noodles. If you're super interested in trying these out, look for your own local market, an international aisle in the grocery store or do a quick search on Amazon.
Our process was rather simple, because making ramen is simple. We first made the noodles and tried to organize ourselves. While all samples had flavor packets, some also had fat packets to squeeze in. I gave Tim some stickers and told him to rate the different brands on a one to four star rating scale. He also forced me to try each one because he will eat anything and I am the pickiest person on the planet, so this was a growing experience for everyone involved. These were our results.
This one mostly started off tasting like plain pho. With rice noodles, it was a bit different than what we'd be heading into, but was overall enjoyable. The beef flavor was mellow, but the basil definitely made a stand-out appearance. The broth was the best part, while the noodles were considerably sub-par.
"The broth felt like it was stewing for hours, which is rare when you're dealing with instant noodles." – Tim Sohl
Tim has tried MAMA before, but he had originally eaten the duck flavor. As previously mentioned, I'm a picky eater, so I left the majority of this one up to him. He reported the green curry flavor to be a similar experience to Pho Bo, because the broth was a lot better than the noodles. I took a small sip and immediately had to get a drink because it was spicy. So, if you're super sensitive to spice like me, this one might not be your fave.
"It's very spicy, but it has a good, rich flavor. It's still lighter than the Pho Bo, though. However, I don't think I'd just buy this one and eat it." – Tim Sohl
Rating: 1.5/4 stars
3. Dragonfly (Seafood Flavor)
We were very excited when we opened this bad boy. It had a packet of dried veggies — and one little corn kernel, which Tim proudly said he would poop out later. The aroma was enjoyable and smelled like seafood, but a sip of the broth was more beefy.
"It smells way better than it tastes, which is really disappointing. The noodles are as lame as Maruchan, but if you're into that, this might work." – Tim Sohl
This packet came with oil and a sampling of soy sauce. This ramen started off smelling more floral than zesty, but red pepper flakes danced through the broth. However, the broth didn't have as much flavor as anticipated.
"The noodles taste artificial, but they have a bit more texture than Maruchan." – Tim Sohl
This was a round clump of dried noodles and composed more of a udon noodle, meaning they have more texture when they are cooked. There were chunks of seaweed, as well, to really add to the intensity of the ramen.
"This one is really, really good. It has a strong seaweed aroma, but isn't fishy. It's really high-quality soup. The noodles have a chew to them, and the broth is spicy but comfortable." – Tim Sohl
Rating: 4/4 stars
6. SamYang (The flavor is written in Mandarin, but there's a chicken on fire on the container, so we can assume.)
This one we saved for last because it may be taste-bud damaging. You probably shouldn't buy this one, unless you love spicy food (like Tim), but there is still a decent flavor. It came with sesame seeds and seaweed strips, but the sauce that went in was literally black. I consumed a little dab of broth and had a volcanic eruption in my mouth, but Tim reported he kind of enjoyed it. Although it was outrageously spicy, he said it had a decent flavor and a good chew on the noodles.
"Hello darkness, my old friend." – Tim Sohl
Rating: 2.5/4 stars
All in all, we had a fun and adventurous date night that made for an informative taste test for our fellow college students. Now I'm off to drink some milk and eat my weight in plain Goldfish.