Our Ranking of the Best Instant Noodles | Insider Guides

Insider Guides’ Instant Noodle World Cup

Instant noodles – a classic pantry staple for students across the globe. Whether you need a quick, cheap lunch before a lecture, or a bowl of something warm and comforting while finishing assignments at midnight, instant noodles are always there for you.

We gathered together a group of master taste testers – some instant noodle connoisseurs, others novices – to bring you an unbiased review of some of the most popular and accessible instant noodles. Without further ado, here’s the 2020 Insider Guides Noodle World Cup!

The taste testers

  • Zac – enjoys instant noodles at least once a week. Favourite brand is Indomie.
  • Josh – occasional noodle-eater. Noodle of choice is mi goreng.
  • Sam – another weekly instant noodle fan. His favourite is the Samyang ramen (untested).
  • Hyemi – will have noodles every second day. She loves Shin Ramyun.
  • Jake – eats instant noodles once a year, at most. No favourites.

The methodology

Each instant noodle was ranked out of five (with five being the highest and best score) across five different categories. These were:

  • Flavour intensity
  • Noodle texture
  • Broth quality
  • Packaging (after blind taste test)
  • Overall experience

Each noodle was cooked as per the instructions, followed by a blind taste test. The taste testers first had to give their initial guesses on what the flavour was, before giving out their individual scores for each category.

The results

Maggi 2 Minute Noodles (Chicken)

Preparation time: Two minutes

Cost: $1.80

Place of origin: Malaysia

Initial flavour guesses: A classic noodle option loved by generations, every taste tester immediately recognised this as chicken two-minute noodles. Jake, our least experienced instant noodle taster, exclaimed:

“This is Maggi, isn’t it? Whatever this is, this is the only type of cup noodle I’ve had before.”

Taste tester reactions: Despite the nostalgia and instant recognition with the Maggi noodles, they did not score highly with the taste testers.

“Not good noodles,” said Zac, regarding noodle texture.

“Oily broth,” said Josh.

“Salty,” said Jake.

Flavour intensity average: 2.7/5

Noodle texture average: 2.4/5

Broth quality average: 2.7/5

Packaging average: 1.5/5

Overall experience average: 3.1/5

Overall score: 62/125

Nongshim Kimchi Bowl Noodle Soup

Preparation time: Three minutes

Cost: $2.50

Place of origin: South Korea

Initial flavour guesses: While some taste testers accurately guessed ‘kimchi’, other guesses included, ‘tom yum’, ‘barbeque soy’ and ‘shrimp’.

Taste tester reactions: There were generally favourable responses to the Kimchi Bowl Noodle Soup – it even elicited a “wow” in some cases. The texture of the noodles was a big hit, with Zac calling them “the best so far.” The broth quality was also commended, with an average score of 3.5/5 across the board.

Flavour intensity average: 3.5/5

Noodle texture average: 2.1/5

Broth quality average: 3.5/5

Packaging average: 2.5/5

Overall experience average: 3.4/5

Overall score: 75/125

Suimin Chicken Noodle Cup

Preparation time: Three minutes

Cost: $1.50

Place of origin: Thailand

Initial flavour guesses: Three taste testers accurately guessed chicken flavour, one voted for seafood, and another went more exotic, claiming the noodles to be “some kind of French onion chicken.”

Taste tester reactions: These were comparatively the closest noodles to the previous Maggi, eliciting the following discussion:

“This looks like Maggi again… This is the exact same thing.”

“Tastes more like KFC.”

“Tastes worse than Maggi.”

“I think it’s slightly better.”

Another key reaction was from taste tester Josh, who said that the noodles “taste Italian.”

Flavour intensity average: 2.8/5

Noodle texture average: 2.2/5

Broth quality average: 3.4/5

Packaging average: 1.4/5

Overall experience average: 2.8/5

Overall score: 63.5/125

Red Panda Braised Beef Noodle Bowl

Preparation time: Three minutes

Cost: $1.40

Place of origin: Singapore

Initial flavour guesses: Every single taste tester’s flavour guess was some sort of chicken, from ‘chicken and chives’ and ‘chicken and onion’, to ‘roast chicken’ and ‘chicken chips’. All taste testers were wrong.

Taste tester reactions: The Red Panda noodles, from the onset, were not going to be a winner. As well as not tasting at all the ‘braised beef’ that was promised, Zac called the broth “intense, but not good,” while Jake summarised them as “my least favourite out of all of them.” However, everyone liked the packaging.

Flavour intensity average: 2.4/5

Noodle texture average: 1.7/5

Broth quality average: 2.2/5

Packaging average: 3.2/5

Overall experience average: 2.3/5

Overall score: 59/125

Wai Wai Oriental Style Instant Noodles

Preparation time: Three minutes

Cost: $0.65

Place of origin: Thailand

Initial flavour guesses: These Wai Wai noodles were definitely the most enigmatic of the bunch. Flavour guesses included chestnut, burnt beef, shrimp and tree bark.

Taste tester reactions: Wai Wai noodles were not a favourite. Upon serving them, initial reactions included, “that smells really bad” and “can I rate the smell? Because it smells like fart.” Other quotes during tasting included, “this is the worst one by far,” “garbage,” or for those who enjoy a pun, “not shallot going on” from Josh. 

Flavour intensity average: 1.6/5

Noodle texture average: 1.1/5

Broth quality average: 0.7/5

Packaging average: 1.3/5

Overall experience average: 1.5/5

Overall score: 31/125

Shin Ramyun Spicy Noodles

Preparation time: Five minutes

Cost: $1.80

Place of origin: South Korea

Initial flavour guesses: “Is spicy a flavour?” expressed Zac in response to flavour guesses. Along the same lines, ‘chilli’, ‘pepper’ and ‘kimchi’ were all suggested. Sam was the only one able to recall the exact brand of noodle, saying, “I think this is Shin Ramyun.”

Taste tester reactions: Upon being served, Shin Ramyun was called “visually, the best so far.” The noodles are known for their soft and chewy texture, but some taste testers found them to be too chewy. Shin Ramyun was also the spiciest of all noodles tested.

“It’s intensely spicy. Like, five out of five spice.”

Flavour intensity average: 3.5/5

Noodle texture average: 3.2/5

Broth quality average: 3.2/5

Packaging average: 3.9/5

Overall experience average: 3.4/5

Overall score: 86/125

Indomie Mi Goreng

Preparation time: Three minutes

Cost: $0.65

Place of origin: Indonesia

Initial flavour guesses: Zac was immediately able to recognise his favourite instant noodles, simply referring to the flavour as “Indomie original.” Other suggestions included “salt,” “a flavour I know,” a correctly guessed “mi goreng” from Hyemi, and a very detailed “shallot, soy sauce, egg and wheat noodles” from Josh.

Taste tester reactions: Reactions ranged from “stunningly average” from Sam, a self-confessed noodle-snob, to “best noodles – put these in the kimchi bowl broth and you have a winner” from Jake. The packaging was also well rated, with taste tasters calling it a “classic” and commenting on the egg, which “looks so appetising.”

Flavour intensity average: 3.3/5

Noodle texture average: 4.2/5

Broth quality average: 3.1/5

Packaging average: 3.8/5

Overall experience average: 3.8/5

Overall score: 91/125

Nissin Cup Noodle Seafood

Preparation time: Three minutes

Cost: $2.00

Place of origin: China

Initial flavour guesses: Every taste tester immediately recognised the flavour of this Cup Noodle, if not exactly as ‘seafood’, then at least able to guess key ingredients like octopus and crab (it might have helped that there were chunks of imitation crab mixed in with the noodles).

Taste tester reactions: The Cup Noodles drew European comparisons, similar to the Suimin noodles, with some claiming the broth tasted “like a bisque.” The classic ‘Cup Noodle’ packaging was also a big hit, and the noodle texture was the “best.”

Flavour intensity average: 3.9/5

Noodle texture average: 3.5/5

Broth quality average: 2.8/5

Packaging average: 2.8/5

Overall experience average: 3.2/5

Overall score: 81/125

Nissin Noodles Instant Tonkotsu 

Preparation time: Three minutes

Cost: $1.20

Place of origin: Hong Kong

Initial flavour guesses: The sesame flavour was strong in these noodles, with every initial guess being some variation of ‘sesame’. Most exotic flavour guess went to Jake with “sesame and fennel.”

Taste tester reactions: Despite Zac claiming, “these honestly might be the best so far,” upon first taste, the Tonkotsu noodles received very average scores, with the broth quality falling short of expectations based on the delicious smells.

Flavour intensity average: 3/5

Noodle texture average: 3/5

Broth quality average: 2.2/5

Packaging average: 3.7/5

Overall experience average: 2.8/5

Overall score: 74/125

The winners!

Overall, the big win went to Indomie Mi Goreng! If you’re looking for instant noodles to satisfy any late-night cravings, then these are the ones to go for. The packet comes with a range of toppings, including sambal and dried shallots, and if you’re feeling gourmet, you can fry an egg and put it on top, just like the packaging suggests – bon appetit!

Second place went to Shin Ramyun – perfect for those that can handle their spice – and third place was awarded to Cup Noodle Seafood, with its uniquely rich broth.