Instant Noodles in Japan - as someone that's eaten thousands of them, coming up with a Top 5 list isn't easy. But after much deliberation, here they are!
First of all, all 5 below are premium instant noodles (ramen). They're not the cheap packet variety you can get at the supermarket. These are next level.
Without further ado, let's get started!
1. From Japan's No. 1 Ramen Shop - Iida Shoten
Iida Shoten is technically Japan's top ranked ramen shop. You can therefore only imagine the buzz when they decided to release an official instant ramen. It's based on their top selling shoyu (soy sauce) ramen.
The instant version boasts the same warm, lip-smacking chicken flavors. Even the toppings are presented in a similar manner - the slice of pork, seaweed, bamboo shoots, and spring onions.
In summary, this is one of the best bowls of instant noodles out there. You'd expect nothing less from Iida Shoten.
2. From the Mountains of Nagano - Shinshu Miso Ramen
"Shinshu miso" comes from the beautiful Nagano region of Japan. Furthermore, it's the most famous type of miso in Japan. In this instant ramen, deeply flavored Shinshu miso is the foundation holding up a rich and thick soup.
The thicker noodles are perfect match for the soup. There's also a little bit of shichimi spice powder to give it a kick. The tasty toppings are a bit unusual for ramen. They are juicy chicken meatballs, nozawana (a leafy vegetable) and shimeji mushrooms - all from Nagano!
The earthy and nutty flavors present in this miso ramen do Nagano more than justice.
3. Silky Smooth Tonkotsu (Pork Bone) Ramen
This is likely the greatest instant tonkotsu ramen we've ever had. It's part of the "Just Noodles and Soup" series. As the name suggests, this series is focused on creating amazing soup and noodles (without any toppings). Boy, do they deliver.
Both the noodles and soup are so good in this one that you won't care about the lack of toppings. They used a whopping 6 types of pork for the silky smooth pork bone soup. The packet of black garlic oil is the perfect companion to this.
We can't forget the springy, ultra thin noodles. These instant noodles deserve a spot in the record books.
4. Juicy Dumpling Ramen - Kintonki Shio
With multiple awards to boot, "Kintoki" is one of Tokyo's most praised ramen shops. They do a shio (salt-seasoned) ramen that is out of this world. Thankfully, their official instant ramen is faithful to that shio ramen.
The soup is beautifully bright from the shio (salt) seasoning and brimming with chicken flavors. But where this instant ramen really impresses is with the four pork dumpling toppings.
Simply put, they are the best dumplings we've ever had in instant ramen!
5. Soupless Tantanmen with Thick Noodles
We're crossing off two categories for this one - spicy and soupless! If you haven't tried soupless ramen before, you're really missing out. To match what is normally a thick sauce, thick noodles are necessary in soupless ramen.
In the case of this particular soupless ramen, the sauce is a spicy one. Being a tantanmen, it's primarily chili oil and sansho (numbing pepper). As to the toppings, the minced pork and chopped bok choy are a nice touch.
Lastly, the thick noodles are chewier since they're not cooking a soup.
There you have it! I hope you've enjoyed this Top 5 list of Instant Noodles from Japan. Keep eating ramen!