Personal tastes on these types of convenience foods vary so much with regard to salt, spices, etc. that trying to come up with “the best” seems odd. But Wirecutter makes an attempt:
Instant noodles are steeped in more than just hot water and seasoning. They’re also steeped in historical and cultural significance. Momofuku Ando created instant noodles in 1958 as a postwar invention to help curb world hunger, and since then, they’ve bloomed into a huge industry, inspiring museums, poems, and prison bartering systems. They’re simultaneously embraced as cheap sustenance, proffered as a way to help future food shortages, and used as a backdrop for culinary experimentation—all of which makes them perfect for our current moment. That, plus the simple fact that a great bowl of instant noodles is comforting and delightful to slurp: warm, carby, salty, and delicious.
It would be impossible to agree on the best instant noodles. There are thousands of varieties, and the World Instant Noodles Association counted 106.4 billion servings eaten worldwide in 2019. We couldn’t pick just one noodle. So we decided to round up some favorites from discerning experts, for when you want a fast, affordable, tasty meal that you can whip up from your pantry by just adding water.
Since the Wirecutter kitchen team couldn’t gather for an in-person tasting, I asked seven chefs, authors, bloggers, ramen reviewers, and noodle makers to share their favorites with me.
I won’t spoil it by telling you the #1 pick, except to say that Nongshim does pretty well throughout the rankings.