The $4 Pack Of Ramen That Won Over The Hearts Of Professional Chefs

Gone are the days when people view ramen as only a lousy cheap college meal. It seems that ramen gained an excellent publicist as its popularity continues to soar to new heights. Thanks to viral TikTok trends modifying ramen recipes and the emergence of different brands on store shelves across the country, packaged instant ramen is having a moment. 

The World Instant Noodles Association (yes, that is a thing) has tracked ramen demand over the past five years. In 2021, the demand for instant noodles totaled just over 118 billion servings worldwide... that's a lot of ramen! To think that it all started with the "father of instant noodles," Momofuku Ando, who invented instant noodles to feed starving people in post-WWII Japan due to lingering food shortages.

Fast forward to 2023, and the appetite for ramen has dramatically grown since the invention of instant noodles. With thousands of varieties available, it can be dizzying to decide what brightly colored pack to grab at the store. So, Wirecutter conducted a study with seven different chefs, food writers, authors, noodle makers, and more to help narrow down the best ramen options on the market. Of course, the list is entirely subjective, as everyone has different taste preferences. Some people may enjoy a mild, chicken-flavored broth, while others prefer a dark, rich beef broth with notes of mushrooms and herbs. Or some want to break a sweat while eating their bowl of noodles, where eating becomes an extreme sport. 

NongShim Shin Black Noodle Soup Steals the Show

After taste testing the 11 different recommended instant noodle ramen, the study revealed a clear winner. Nongshim Shin Black Noodle Soup is number one at the top of the list. The Shin Black noodles are the premium version of the popular Korean brand, Nongshim's noodles. The thick, meaty broth in Nongshim Shim Black Noodle Soup is most notably different due to adding an extra packet of ox bone seasoning. 

Fancy! The broth has strong notes of garlic and mushroom, and the noodles are thick and delightfully chewy. While the Black version is slightly less spicy than the original version, it still packs heat. The ramen is addicting, from the first bite until the last tilt-the-bowl to get every single last drop slurp. Coming in at just $4 a package, Nongshim Shin Black Noodle Soup is a win-win for your tastebuds and wallet.

Next time you're at the store, grab a few different ramen packs and find a brand you love. This way, there will always be something easy, delicious, and fast to eat in the pantry. When in doubt, make ramen noodles. What's one more bowl in the sea of 118 billion servings, anyway?