EDITOR’S NOTE: Who doesn’t love Korean instant noodles? Traveleater Jason is a Korean ramen expert and owner of a website about all things South Korea called The Korean Guide. In this article, he shares with us 20 of the best Korean ramen noodles that you absolutely must try.
When we think of Asian-style instant noodles, you might make the association that they come from China or Japan. After all, Japanese ramen is arguably the most famous Japanese dish. While that may be true, have you ever heard of Korean ramen? The list below describes twenty of the most popular brands and flavors from South Korea that anyone in the world has access to.
All these brands of Korean noodles are delicious, with some made with all-natural and organic ingredients that you can take comfort in. However, as a word of caution, anyone with food allergies to things like gluten, eggs, or nuts should avoid eating these.
Save This on Pinterest!No time to read this guide on the best Korean instant noodles? Click on the save button and pin it for later!
Photo by topntp via Depositphotos
KOREAN INSTANT NOODLES OVERVIEW
- Samyang Buldak Stir-Fried Ramen Noodles – Super spicy chicken stir-fried ramen noodles.
- Nongshim Korean Shin Ramyun – Bold and spicy carrots, mushrooms, and peppers in a beef-flavored broth with soft, chewy noodles.
- Neoguri Spicy Seafood with Udon-Style Noodles – Seafood-flavored udon noodles with kelp.
- Jin Ramen Spicy Flavor – A spicy and rich mélange of velvety noodles with beef bone stock, kelp, red pepper, carrot, green onions, and mushrooms.
- Samyang Hot Chicken Carbo Ramen – Classic hot and spicy chicken ramen but made with Italian carbonara noodles instead.
- Samyang Buldak Chicken Jjajang Spicy – Spicy chicken that comes with a thick, chunky sauce that’s enjoyed as a topping rather than a soup.
- Nongshim Chapaguri Spicy Rom Don Jjajang – Another option for a thick, chunky sauce topping that features seafood.
- Paldo Fun & Yum Bibim Men Instant Cold Noodles – A sweet and spicy blend with classic Korean spices and a touch of apple juice.
- Kko Kko Myeon – All-natural ingredients are used to make these chewy and soft noodles with a spicy chicken broth, powdered egg, green onion flakes, pieces of chicken, and peppers.
- Nongshim Chapagetti Chajang Noodle – Ramen noodles that have a thick and chunky black bean sauce with carrot, meat flakes, and sweet onions.
- I’M E MinSaeng Ramen – Inspired by the convenience store, “I’m E” is a ramen soup with red pepper, artificial chicken flavor, onion, artificial beef flavor, and dried seaweed.
- Jin Ramen Korean Style Instant Noodle – Available in spicy or mild, this ramen soup combines a spicy broth with mushrooms, green onion, and carrot.
- Paldo Fun & Yum Ilpoom Jjajangmen Noodles – A sweet, savory, and spicy blend of thick black bean sauce and red chili pepper paste without any broth.
- Samyang Fire Hot Curry Flavored Chicken Ramen – Hot and spicy chicken broth with soft ramen noodles and a curry-flavored kick.
- Cheese Ramen, Korean Style Instant Noodle – Ramen noodles with a smooth and creamy cheese sauce combined with vegetables.
- Nongshim Soon Veggie Noodle Soup – 100% vegan-friendly ramen soup made with simple veggies and mildly flavored broth.
- Ottogi Sesame Flavor Ramen – Spicy but smooth ramen noodles featuring sesame seeds.
- Paldo Fun & Yum Gomtang Ramen – A mild-flavored beef with vegetables ramen soup.
- Paldo Fun & Yum Extra Hot Spicy Instant Noodles – Super hot and spicy Korean ramen soup.
- Nongshim Budae Jjigae Noodle Soup – Traditional “army base soup” made with spicy sausage, spam, ham, baked beans, kimchi, red chili paste, and noodles.
ABOUT KOREAN RAMEN NOODLES
Since the Korean War, ramyeon (or Korean ramen) became an inexpensive filler food. It helped keep bellies full when food like rice was scarce. Developed in 1963 by the Samyang Food Company (some instant ramen products from this brand are recommended below), it staved off starvation and famine. At the time, the situation was dire.
This came with the help of Japanese ramen, a reinterpretation of the original Chinese ramen noodle. They developed spice packages that provided a well-rounded mix of nutrients and minerals. Not only did this save Koreans, but it also became a worldwide phenomenon. Instant ramen surged in popularity in the 1980s and experienced a resurgence in the 2000s.
EXPORTS TO ASIA, EUROPE, AND BEYOND
China, Japan, and North Korea import boatloads of South Korean ramen noodles. It also has widespread fame in Russia, Switzerland, Germany, Britain, and even the United States. While there are many people in the US who have not heard of Korean-style ramen, there are others who clear it off the shelves.
Today, Korean-style ramen noodles are part of an entire Korean food line called K-Food. Of course, this includes classic ramen and instant noodles but also barbecue, rice bowls, and other seafood delicacies. When Koreans are overseas, they always eat a bowl of ramen to remind them of the comforts of home.
TIPS & TECHNIQUES FOR THE BEST KOREAN NOODLES
The key to excellent Korean-style ramen is often up to the diner’s creativity and choice of supplemental ingredients. Including freshly grilled meat like chicken, pork, beef, or fish is always a good idea. This is especially true for specialty ramen soups that include shrimp or squid. Tofu is a good option for vegans and vegetarians.
Plus, you can add other things like hard-boiled eggs, fresh chopped green onions, or a plethora of vegetables to your liking. Baby corn, broccoli, mushrooms, carrots, celery, and even cucumber will make excellent toppings. You can also mix two different flavors of ramen into one fabulous bowl.
The versatility doesn’t stop there. If you prefer, you can stick to a traditional-style ramen noodle soup. However, you can use the seasoning packets to create a sauce rather than just covering the noodles. Also, you have the option of frying the noodles to create even more flavor.
THE BEST KOREAN RAMEN BRANDS
Listed below are twenty of the best and most popular Korean ramen brands that you need to try. You can purchase any of these Korean instant noodles on Amazon (Please note that this article contains Amazon affiliate links).
1. Samyang Buldak Stir-Fried Ramen Noodles (Spicy Korean Ramen!)
If you enjoy a lot of heat in your food, then you’re going to love that we started this list with these Korean spicy noodles from Samyang.
Samyang is a K-Food brand that began back in 1961. But 1963 saw the birth of their instant noodle line, which was done in an effort to fight off food scarcity at the time. Ever since, ramen in general has been the second most popular Korean food.
Today, their Buldak Stir-Fried Korean Ramen Noodles – or Buldak-Bokkeum-Myeon (불닭볶음면) – is one of their most popular products. It’s a hot and spicy ramen with chicken flavor. Also known as “fire noodles”, these are some of the spiciest Korean ramen noodles you can find.
This brand of Samyang Ramen Korean instant noodles is so notoriously spicy that there’s a viral video challenge with people in South Korea and beyond trying to eat a bowl of these fiery noodles as fast as they can. If you’re a fan of spicy food, then you need to try this.
2. Nongshim Shin Ramyun
Nongshim has one of the top-selling Korean ramen noodle products. It’s famous and enjoyed worldwide, especially in the United States. Their Shin Ramyun is a bold and spicy beef-flavored blend of chewy, soft noodles. It comes with carrots and mushrooms and features the world’s finest peppers.
Shin Ramyun is one of the first styles of ramen released in 1963. But, this is Nongshim’s take on the recipe. Regardless, people everywhere agree, Nongshim Shin Ramyun is one of the best Korean ramen noodles around.
3. Neoguri Spicy Seafood with Udon-Style Noodles
Another legendary Korean ramen noodle from Nongshim, this debuted in 1982 and has been a hit ever since. It’s notorious for its thick, gooey, and chewy udon noodles with a seafood flavor that’s spicy and distinct. They make it with real ingredients, including various types of seafood and dried kelp.
What makes this so special are the udon noodles. These thick noodles make for a hearty type of Korean ramen.
4. Jin Ramen Spicy Flavor
Jin Ramen, made by the Ottogi Company, packs a punch of spice in a fabulous Korean ramen soup. It’s made with a host of different ingredients. Aside from the soft, velvety noodles, there’s beef bone stock, red pepper, kelp extract, carrot, mushroom, and green onion, among others. The whole experience is rich and delicious.
5. Samyang Hot Chicken Carbo Ramen
Returning to the 50-year-long trusted Korean ramen producer, Samyang, their Hot Chicken Carbo Ramen is something to really write home about. “Carbo” refers to the Italian carbonara noodles used in the recipe.
You can think of this as a fusion type of ramen that combines classic Korean ramen with a touch of Italy. They call this Carbonara-Buldak-Bokkeum-Myeon (까르보불닭볶음면). It’s incredibly spicy in the same way as the Buldak spicy noodles previously mentioned in this article.
6. Samyang Buldak Chicken Jjajang Spicy
Another great flavor in the line of Samyang ramen instant noodles is the Buldak Chicken Jjajang Spicy. Otherwise known as Jjajang-Buldak-Bokkeum-Myeon (짜장불닭볶음면), it’s just like the other spicy Korean ramen chicken flavors they offer, but the sauce is thick and chunky.
It means this isn’t a Korean ramen soup per se. It’s a noodle dish that comes topped with a fried sauce. You can think of it as something like spaghetti but it’s made with entirely different ingredients.
7. Nongshim Chapaguri Spicy Rom Don Jjajang
Nongshim also offers their own Korean ramen with Jjajang. Their Chapaguri Spicy Rom Don Jjajang features seafood. You add hot water to the spice packet and noodles which produce a rich and hot-tasting ramen that’s covered in spice rather than becoming a soup.
8. Paldo Fun & Yum Bibim Men Instant Cold Noodles
Paldo Fun & Yum prides itself on providing healthy, delicious, and nutritious K-Food options to the public. Their Bibim Men Instant Cold Noodles brings an interesting twist to a Korean classic that’s famous across the western world.
This incorporates their signature Mukhang ramen noodles which you can use in any Korean dish you make at home. You can toss them with your favorite stir fry with any type of protein, topper, or veggie. The sauce is sweet and spicy with a hint of apple juice mixed with an array of classic Korean spices.
9. Kko Kko Myeon
Another great product from Paldo Fun & Yum is their Kko Kko Myeon, also known as “kokomen.” This provides a chewy and soft noodle along with spicy chicken broth, green onion flakes, powdered egg, chicken pieces and pepper. The great thing is you can trust there are no artificial flavors or preservatives.
It makes a wonderful base to create your own Korean dish at home. It has versatile ingredients which allow for adding things like a boiled egg, pieces of chicken, or even pork.
10. Nongshim Chapagetti Chajang Noodle
Chapagetti is Nongshim’s interpretation of a classic Korean staple dish called chajangmyun noodles. The Korean food developers at the company labored over the right combination of ingredients to ensure that it tastes just like what you would find at a Korean noodle shop.
It’s a thick and chunky black bean sauce that’s actually inspired by neighboring China. The soft and chewy noodles combine sweet onions, carrot, and meat flakes. Mix it with your own pickled yellow radish and crushed chili pepper powder for a bold and flavorful dining experience.
11. I’M E MinSaeng Ramen
MinSaeng – a word that means “people’s livelihood” – is a ramen noodle company from South Korea. “I’m E” harkens back to a popular convenience store chain. They sell this specific type of noodles and spices that mimic the freshly made Korean dish. MinSaeng gets pretty close with this instant ramen version.
The soup is flavored with things like red pepper powder, onion, artificial chicken flavor, artificial beef flavor, and dried seaweed. You can cook it up according to the package directions, but you can also add additional ingredients.
Personally, I like kimchi flavor so I typically make it with kimchi, eggs, and green onion. These will liven up the soup and your taste buds will shimmy with delight.
12. Jin Ramen Korean Style Instant Noodle
Ottogi’s Jin Ramen Korean Style Instant Noodle comes in two flavors – spicy or mild. The boullion-based spicy broth has plenty of vegetables like green onion, mushrooms, and carrots. The chewy noodles and quick cooking time means you can have a hot bowl of Korean ramen soup in minutes without even being in South Korea.
13. Paldo Fun & Yum Ilpoom Jjajangmen Noodles
The Ilpoom Jjajangmen Noodles by Paldo Fun & Yum is a traditional and classic blend that doesn’t come with a broth. However, it has a sweet and addictive chili flavor with a savory, spicy kick from its black bean sauce.
The thick, syrupy consistency of this sauce isn’t overpowering in its spiciness or sweetness. Plus, it comes with a crunchy fried onion garnish that you can serve on the side or on top.
14. Samyang Fire Hot Curry Flavored Chicken Ramen
The Fire Hot Curry Flavored Chicken Ramen by Samyang offers all the wonderful spiciness of their classic Hot Chicken Ramen. The difference is the addition of curry to the mix which creates a tasty variation. However, some people who are familiar with this brand say that the curry isn’t as hot as other styles they make.
15. Cheese Ramen, Korean-Style Instant Noodle
For cheese lovers, the Cheese Ramen by Ottogi is sure to satisfy your cravings. The spice packet mixes with powdered cheese which, when you add water, gives the noodles a creamy and mild texture with a deliciously rich cheese flavor. These Korean-style instant ramen noodles are ideal for kids and vegetarians.
There’s no meat but it’s rich with veggies and cheddar cheese. This is probably Ottogi’s most popular ramen noodle, especially in the United States.
16. Nongshim Soon Veggie Noodle Soup
Nongshim produces a ramen soup that’s perfect for vegans – the Soon Veggie Noodle Soup. It’s made with a host of different vegetables and other ingredients that are 100% free of animal byproducts. The vegetable broth is simple, yet delicious with a mild flavor.
17. Ottogi Sesame Flavor Ramen
Another great ramen dish by Ottogi comes in sesame flavor. It has eggshell calcium, green tea, corn, red pepper, garlic, beef bone broth, roasted sesame seeds, and green onion. It has a rich and flavorful taste punctuated by whole sesame seeds.
18. Paldo Fun & Yum Gomtang Ramen
This Gomtang Ramen by Paldo Fun & Yum is so popular that it clears shelves fast, especially in the United States. Enjoyed for its mild beef and vegetable flavor, this is an instant ramen version of a traditional Korean recipe that’s often made at home and served at noodle shops throughout the country.
19. Paldo Fun & Yum Extra Hot Spicy Instant Noodles
Yet another fabulous ramen dish from Paldo Fun & Yum, these Extra Hot Spicy Instant Ramen Noodles are not for the faint of heart. If you have any aversion to hot and spicy food, then you may want to try another type of ramen until you can build up your tolerance.
Also called Teumsae ramyun (틈새라면), this is one of the most unique and spiciest sauces. You can prepare it as a soup but it’s most recommended as a sauce with noodles on the side. It will help quell the overwhelming burning sensation that you’ll get in your mouth.
20. Nongshim Budae Jjigae Noodle Soup
For an authentic K-Food noodle stew, you have to try Nongshim’s Budae Jjigae. This is a traditional dish with a name that translates to “army base soup.” It typically consists of baked beans, ham, sausage, spam, kimchi, and of course, noodles. It’s also made with a red chili paste Koreans call gochujang.
While Nongshim’s version is an instant noodle, it’s quite comparable to what you’ll find at someone’s home or a noodle shop. It’s spicy, flavorful, and packed with nutrients.
FINAL THOUGHTS ON KOREAN INSTANT NOODLES
Even though this is a huge list of Korean ramen noodles for you to start with, there are hundreds, if not thousands more. There are some that appeal to those with more adventurous palates, like versions made with squid.
Regardless, Korean instant noodles are delicious, fast, and easy to make. They’re certainly a nutritious way to get a fast meal, no matter where you are in the world.
Some of the links in this article on the best Korean ramen brands are affiliate links, meaning we’ll get a small commission if you make a purchase at no additional cost to you. As always, we only recommend products and services that we use ourselves and firmly believe in. We really appreciate your support as it helps us make more of these free travel and food guides. Thank you!
Cover photo by topntp via Depositphotos.