Instant noodle, or instant ramen, is unquestionably one of the fastest meals to prepare which involves only a single highly skillful technique of boiling water (sorry for my sarcasm). It can be ready in 3 minutes and bring peace to your growling stomach. Instant noddle for sure owns its place on my comfort food list and I crave for this unhealthy, oily and salty carb junk food from time to time.
Instant ramen was invented in 1958 around 10 years after Japan lost in World War II. During this post-war period, Ando Momofuku (安藤百福) was triggered to make the first-ever instant ramen “Chicken Ramen”, aiming to provide cheap, simple to make, safe, long storability and tasty food for the public. He industrialized the production process into 4 steps of 1) making noodles, 2) steaming the noodles, 3) flavouring and 4) deep frying, then began mass production in factories. It was marketed as the “magic ramen” and sales number went remarkably great. This recipe got adapted quickly throughout Europe and America, selling over 15 billion units within 30 years, which is more than 136,000 packs per day.
To perform worldwide quality control, Ando Momofuku gathered 10 largest makers from 10 countries in the world to start the International Ramen Manufacturers Association (1997), which is now the World Instant Noodles Association. In 2006, this association was officially recognized by the Codex Alimentarius Commission and manage to place a “CODEX Standard for Instant Noodles”.
The instruction on the instant ramen package usually suggests cooking the noodle for 3 minutes before eating, yet the purpose of this duration is not to cook the noodles till an al dente texture. The preciously annoying 3-minutes wait time is solely to make us wait. The manufacturer thinks that waiting for 1 minute does not rise our tension of hunger, yet 5 minutes seems too long. Hence, they came up with a time frame of 3 minutes, which is just right to make us feel hungry but not angry. There was once a “1 minute instant noodle” in the market, yet comments like “the soup is still too hot”, and “waiting for the soup to cool down makes the noodle soggy” has stopped production of this product.
There are instant noodles from all over the world, but this 2019 ranking below focuses on Japanese instant ramen.
1) Sapporo Ichiban Miso Ramen ($6/ pack of 5)
2) Sapporo Ichiban Shio Ramen ($6/ pack of 5)
3) Maruchan Seimen Shouyu Ramen ($6.5/ pack of 5)
4) Maruchan Seimen Tonkotsu Ramen ($6.5/ pack of 5)
5) Shin Ramen ($4.5/ pack of 3)
6) Chicken Ramen ($9/ pack of 5)
7) Umakkachan Tonkotsu Ramen ($7.85/ pack of 5)
8) Raou Shoyu Ramen ($7.5/ pack of 5)
9) Maruchan Seimen Tonkotsu Shouyu Ramen ($6.5/ pack of 5)
10) Demae Iccho Sesame Oil Flavour ($6.5/ pack of 5)
*Prices are approximates got from Amazon.co.jp
I usually bring a pack of instant noodle from Japan as a souvenir for myself. It is possible to buy the exact same brand and same flavour in Vancouver, but the price markup is insane. And, sometime there are some “limited time” flavours or new flavour that are not yet sold in countries other than Japan. So be sure to check out a supermarket before you end you Japan trip!