Memos from Asia

3 South Korean Ramyeon Brands for First-timers

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Ingredients for Shin Ramyun, a popular Korean noodle dish with an intense spicy flavor

If you have been hooked to anything South Korean, may it be Korean Dramas, Kpop, Mukbang, or if you have ever been to South Korea or even just visited a Korean restaurant in the past, one thing you will notice is how there is a recurring presence of ramyeon in their meals.

Ramyeon or ramyun sounds similar to the more popular Japanese dish ramen, but there are not many similarities between the two besides them utilizing noodles. Although a few might argue that the ramyeon is simply a Korean take on ramen, it should be noted that the tastes are not at all the same. Ramyeon is much spicier than Japanese ramen. You can opt for spicy Japanse ramen, but its favors are generally more subtle compared to the flavorful soup of the ramyeon. Ramyeon is also an instant food, where only hot water is added and not much preparation is really necessary. On the other hand, although there are also instant noodle packaging varieties of the Japanese Ramen, it is ideally prepared from scratch with fresh wheat noodles and boiling broth.

Korean spicy noodles

There are a lot of versions of ramyeon sold in stores worldwide, they come in packet noodles or cup noodles. The packet noodle versions will necessitate you to cook on a pot, which is perfect for when you are at home since you have time to cook and experiment if you want with the ramyeon dish by adding ingredients you feel would go great with it. This is also perfect for when you are cooking for more or when you have guests over because you can cook multiple packets in one pot.

Korean ramen with egg and green onion on golden pan

The cup noodle versions, on the other hand, are perfect for when are short on time and only have a couple of minutes to spare to prepare and eat the food. This version is extremely easy to prepare and clean up after and is perfect for single consumption.

Ramyeon is commonly seen as a soup-based meal, but there has been a lot of stir-fried variations of ramyeon that has been gaining popularity. If this is your first encounter with ramyeon, it can be overwhelming to decide among the many choices you have. So, if you are having a hard time choosing which ones to try, here are some of our recommendations:

Nong Shim Ramyeon

Nongshim Ramyeon (Shin Ramyeon) is arguably the most popular ramyeon there is. You have probably seen this product in grocery markets and Korean specialty stores. It is shipped worldwide across over a hundred countries and it is widely liked because of the spicy savory flavor it boasts. It also has generous amounts of flavoring powder and vegetable flakes that come with the packet.

Nongshim Ramyeon or Shin Ramyeon is sold in 2 kinds of flavors, which are the original and the Shin Ramyeon Black. If you prefer a more flavorful soup, then the Shin Ramyeon Black would be the better choice because of the extra packet of beef stock that comes with it. However, a regular Shin Ramyeon is already tasty enough as well. So, if it’s your first time trying the brand, it would be safer to try the regular one first and then make a decision from there if you would prefer a stronger taste, of you already like it the way it is.

Shin Ramyeon is sold on either noodle packets or cup noodle versions.

Jin Ramyeon

Following Shin Ramyeon’s popularity in second is Jin Ramyeon. It is a matter of taste preference really, but there are a good number of people who like Jin Ramyeon best among all the brands available. It also has a good soup flavor profile which goes well with their noodle texture.

Jin Ramyeon is also the perfect choice for those who cannot handle too much spiciness because it comes in mild and spicy versions. So, if you are hesitant to try ramyeon because it is known to be very spicy, the mild Jin Ramyeon would be a good way to gauge your spice level tolerance.

Jin Ramyeon also comes in packet noodles and cup noodle versions.

Samyang Hot Chicken Ramyeon

If Samyang sounds familiar, it is because around 2017, there was a popular challenge around the world called “Samyang Challenge”, which was basically to try to finish a packet of this ramyeon in different levels of spiciness.

Samyang Hot Chicken Ramyeon has 10 varieties, but the one that gained the most popularity is the original, the 2x spicy version, and the mala chicken flavor. There have been multiple Youtube videos on people trying to finish or even just taste the noodles, and at that time there was a huge demand for the product. The other varieties, like the cheese, carbonara, and curry flavors were also gaining attention for those who wanted to try Samyang noodles but were afraid of too much spiciness.

Most of Samyang’s ramyeon variety is a stir-fried version of the ramyeon. Although the noodles and vegetable packets are still cooked by boiling it in hot water, the water is then drained and the sauce that comes with the packet is then mixed to it. If you want to try a no soup ramyeon, then you can try your luck with Samyang but be careful in choosing what kind especially if you have a low tolerance for spice. It would be safe to go with the not so hot versions and then go your way up.

Samyang is sold both in packet and cup noodle version as well.

What is good about the ramyeon is that it is delicious, easy to prepare, and it is a cheap but filling meal. It has a rich flavor that grows into your flavor palette which you will eventually look for. If you are hesitant to try ramyeon because it is not exactly “healthy”, you would be happy to know that there are a lot of recipes you can find on the internet where they have modified or added the ingredients used to prepare a healthier version of this Korean staple. Give it a try and let us know what you think about it!

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