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10 Underrated Korean instant noodles you should try in Malaysia

Ever felt hungry for Korean instant noodles when binging on an entire Korean drama series, especially when the show’s protagonist devours a piping hot bowl of ramyeon (or ramyun) in an eating scene. I’m sure we’ve all experienced this phenomenon before. Indeed, this convenient staple plays a crucial role in promoting Korean popular culture and soft power. This widespread food also offers a gastronomic insight into the Korean general public’s culinary tastes.

Most Korean instant noodles have a spicy profile due to the country’s love for chilli peppers. However, they are also available in non-spicy flavours like black bean sauce and beef bone-based soup.

The appeal of Korean ramyeon

Known as ‘ra-myeon‘ or ‘ra-myun‘ in Korean phonetics, Korean instant noodles have ties with Japanese instant ramen. But the origins of ramyeon and ramen come from China’s ‘la-mian‘, a term directly translated from hand-pulled noodles.

Korean instant noodles first emerged in South Korea in 1963 to alleviate poverty during the post-Korean war. Developed by Samyang Ramyun as an instant food, ramyeon gained recognition with the help of Jung Yun Jeon, a founder of Samyang Food Company that introduced the technology of making ramen from Japan to Korea. Since then, Korean ramyeon has become a mainstay on menus in casual eateries and a quick-fix meal in many Korean and even global households.

The quintessential Korean ramyeon has thicker strands and a chewier noodle texture than its counterparts. In addition, these noodles will come in a beef-based spicy red broth, coloured from chilli pepper powder. Korean palates typically favour spicy and salty, thus becoming the flavour best synonymous with Korean instant noodles.

With changing times and fickle tastebuds, Korean ramyeon seasonings have expanded to keep pace and tantalise diners. From jjajang (black bean sauce) and savoury cheese carbonara to sweet-spicy toppoki (Korean rice cake sauce), there’s bound to be a flavour that’ll satisfy cravings.

(Hero and feature image credit: Samyang Foods)

Here are the 10 best Korean instant noodles/ramyeon you can buy in Singapore:

1 /10

Nong Shim Shin Ramyun (Black)

Mention Korean instant noodles and Nong Shim Shin Ramyun comes to mind. It is undeniably the most famous Korean ramen known globally. Dubbed the ‘number one’ ramen in Korea, Shin Ramyun directly translates to spicy ramen in Korean. While the original spicy and shrimp flavours are the representatives of Shin Ramyun, the Black version triumphs over them.

(Image credit: Nongshim)


2 /10

Samyang Original Ramen (Spicy)

While Shin Ramyun is considered the Korean instant noodles representative globally, Samyang Ramen is the first ramen introduced in Korea. Released on September 15, 1963, this OG ramen remains beloved by instant noodle connoisseurs for its ham-flavoured soup base. Go for the spicy version to experience a fiery kick, although the original version (the OG) has a slight spice to it as well.

(Image credit: Samyang)


3 /10

Ottogi Jin Ramyun (Mild and Spicy)

Another iconic Korean ramen is Ottogi’s Jin Ramyun. Recognised as the ‘three classic ramen’ alongside Shin Ramyun and Samyang Ramen due to their similar flavour profile from the spicy chilli powder used, Jin Ramyun’s beef bone stock base is sweeter compared to the other two. Fun fact: Jin of BTS recently fronted a brand ambassador campaign for Jin Ramyun before his military enlistment as both of them share the same name.

(Image credit: Ottogi)


4 /10

Ottogi Jin Jjambbong Ramyun

A variant of Ottogi’s Jin Ramyun, the Jin Jjambbong Ramyun flavour is based on Jjambbong – a Korean-Chinese style spicy and smokey seafood-based broth with gochugaru (chilli powder). Its noodles are noticeably thicker, broader, and chewier for an enjoyable bite. The savouriness reflects the taste of the ocean and the hint of smokiness makes the broth irresistible.

(Image credit: Ottogi)


5 /10

Samyang Korean Gomtang Ramyun

This one’s for those who can’t take the heat. Gomtang is a comforting and nourishing milky broth that’s made by boiling different cuts of beef, usually brisket, and beef bones. This Gomtang Ramyun is ideal for those who enjoy a slightly peppery taste instead of intense spiciness which doesn’t overpower the savoury notes of the beef.

(Image credit: Samyang)


6 /10

Samyang Hot Chicken Buldak Light Ramyun

Launched in 2012, the ultra-spicy Samyang Hot Chicken Buldak Ramyun initially wasn’t well received due to its fiery taste but went viral afterwards on social media, especially YouTube for the Buldak bokkeum myeon challenge (Fiery chicken stir-fried noodle challenge).

As a dry noodle, the flavour comes from the sauce packet which contains intense heat from the chilli oil. The Buldak Light Ramyun variant is a light and milder version of the original with lesser oil and chewier non-fried noodles. Those who can’t handle the blazing spice but want to experience the charm of Buldak Ramyun can opt to have this instead.

(Image credit: Samyang)


7 /10

Samyang Hot Chicken Instant Ramen (Cream Carbonara)

Also under the Samyang Hot Chicken Buldak Ramyun pillar is the cream carbonara version of the Hot Chicken Instant Ramen. The creamy and cheesy taste of the carbonara balances the fiery savoury notes of the chilli oil. When combined, the sauce becomes a thick syrupy delight that clings onto the firm noodles well.

(Image credit: Samyang)


8 /10

Paldo Rabokki Noodle

Rabokki is a Korean specialty that combines ramen noodles and tteobokki (rice cake) pieces. Now, it can be enjoyed as a Korean instant food too. For Paldo Rabokki Noodle, the plump strands are mixed with tteobokki‘s sweet-spicy sauce only, without the rice cakes. No carb overload here. Caution: You’ll be tempted to polish off the rich addictive sauce clean from the bowl.

(Image credit: Paldo)


9 /10

Nongshim Ramen Noodle Chapaguri

Another hybrid Korean ramen is Chapaguri – a delicious combination of Nongshim’s ramyeon take on the Korean-Chinese dish jjajangmyeon (Chapagetti) and Neoguri, a spicy seafood ramyeon made with thicker udon-style noodles. This satisfying savoury black bean-based sauce dish gained widespread attention when it was featured in the Academy Award-winning movie Parasite as Ram-don.

(Image credit: Nongshim)


10 /10

Ottogi Beef Seaweed Soup Ramen

Both beef (Sogogi) and seaweed (Miyeokguk) are nutritional ingredients. Thus, those who crave a healing comforting dish can have this in minutes! The balance between the clean yet umami seaweed taste and savoury beef flavour feel nourishing despite being an instant dish. In South Korea, seaweed soup is often consumed on birthdays or by mothers postpartum to boost the body’s immune system.

(Image credit: Ottogi)

10 Underrated Korean instant noodles you should try in Malaysia

Derrick Tan

digital writer

Derrick believes in Anais Nin's quote, "We write to taste life twice, in the moment and in retrospect." Always craving knowledge with a child-like mindset, he recognises the importance of digital journalism in the current state of media consumption. During downtime, he reads periodicals to keep up with current affairs and subcultures, being a wayfarer and can be seen at live music concerts.

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