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Hunt For The Best: Soup Instant Noodle

Hunt for the best: soup instant noodle

Posted by Meld Magazine on June 16, 2011 in Lifestyle · 1 Comments

AND in the final instalment of our epic instant noodle taste test, we review 25 varieties of soupy instant noodles from Yahweh Asian Grocery, and this is our verdict.

Photo: Wan Shing Lang

Photo: Wan Shing Lang

Again, our taste test was judged according to taste, texture, appearance and accuracy to packet instructions, and scored on a scale of 1 to 5.

  • 1 = hmm… interesting
  • 2 = eat when desperate
  • 3 = predictable but good
  • 4 = pantry must have
  • 5 = almost gourmet

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Contender #1: Broad Noodles, Paldo

  • Taste: 2.6
  • Texture: 3.6
  • Appearance: 3.4
  • Accuracy to Packet instructions: 3.8
  • Affordability: $0.90 for a 123g packet

Paldo’s Broad Noodles had a tangy, kimchi-like taste to it, and was mildly spicy. There was quite a good “spring” to the noodles, but one of our testers noted a waxy aftertaste, which pulled down its overall score.

Total score: 3.4/5

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Contender #2: Artificial chicken flavour, Paldo

  • Taste: 2.8
  • Texture: 3.5
  • Appearance: 3
  • Accuracy to Packet instructions: 3.3
  • Affordability: $0.90 for a 115g packet

So is this what artificial tastes like? We were rather bemused by this instant noodle that officially likened its taste to “artificial chicken flavour”.  But it didn’t put all our taste testers off. We received scores from opposite ends of the spectrum with two of our testers who said they loved it, and others who gave it a miserly 2 points.

Total score: 3.2/5

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Contender #3: Snack Noodle Soup, Paldo

  • Taste: 2
  • Texture: 3.3
  • Appearance: 2.7
  • Accuracy to Packet instructions: 3.7
  • Affordability: $0.90 for a 100g packet

Again, we wonder what Paldo had in mind when they came up with the idea of this “snack noodle soup”. We were hit with a huge dose of salt, though. At least the noodles had a spring to it.

Total score: 3/5

Contender #4: Chicken, Nissin

  • Taste: 2.8
  • Texture: 2.4
  • Appearance: 2
  • Accuracy to Packet instructions: 3.2
  • Affordability: $0.75 for a 100g packet

The Nissin Chicken flavoured instant noodles scored rather low. The taste wasn’t too bad really. It tasted, well, like chicken. But we were supremely disappointed with everything else. Despite following packet instructions, we found some of the noodles were cooked while others tasted raw.

Total score: 2.6/5

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Contender #5: Chicken, Maggi

  • Taste: 1.5
  • Texture: 1
  • Appearance: 1.1
  • Accuracy to Packet instructions: 1.4
  • Affordability: $0.65 for a 77g packet

Maggi’s chicken-flavoured noodle was the worst performer out of the 25 packets we reviewed in this taste. It was uninspiring in every way, not to mention the very yellow coloured broth which was a big turn off.

Total score: 1.3/5

Paldo's range of instant noodles. From left, Seafood Flavour, Artificial Chicken Flavour, Broad Noodle Photo: Wan Shing Lang

Paldo’s range of instant noodles. From left, Seafood Flavour, Artificial Chicken Flavour, Broad Noodle Photo: Wan Shing Lang

Contender #6: Udong (Prawn flavour), Paldo

  • Taste: 3.3
  • Texture: 3.2
  • Appearance: 3.2
  • Accuracy to Packet instructions: 3.2
  • Affordability: $0.90 for a 120g packet

Paldo’s Udong could probably do with less cooking time, as it turned out a bit soggy by the time we fished it out of the pot. But the soup flavours really helped raise the bar. It had a mild prawn and seaweed taste, and stronger notes of seaweed than seafood.  One tester said it tasted like the ones made in restaurants, which is a pretty big compliment to pay, we think.

Total score: 3.2/5

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Contender #7: Seafood, Paldo

  • Taste: 3
  • Texture: 3.3
  • Appearance: 3.6
  • Accuracy to Packet instructions: 2.6
  • Affordability: $0.90 for a 113g packet

We preferred Paldo’s prawn-flavoured Udong compared to this seafood one, which lacked a little bit of lustre in the taste department. What the packet doesn’t tell you too, is that it’s actually spicy, so best to avoid if you don’t take heat well.

Total score: 3.1/5

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Contender #8: Udon, Nong Shim

  • Taste: 3.4
  • Texture: 2.7
  • Appearance: 3.8
  • Accuracy to Packet instructions: 3.3
  • Affordability: $0.75 for a 120g packet

At $0.75 cents for 120g worth of noodles, this is one of the most value-for-money  brands on the market. Other things going for this one is its great taste. Lovely seaweed bits in your soup, and it’s actually less salty than a number of the other brands out there. Though if you’re not one for al dente noodles, we recommend you cook it a little longer than the instructions on the packaging.

Total score: 3.3/5

Nissin's range of soupy instant noodles. Photo: Wan Shing Lang

Nissin’s range of soupy instant noodles. Photo: Wan Shing Lang

Contender #9: Beef, Nissin

  • Taste: 2.3
  • Texture: 2.7
  • Appearance: 2.5
  • Accuracy to Packet instructions: 3.8
  • Affordability: $0.75 for a 100g packet

We got some pretty poor feedback on this one, as one of our tasters reckoned it tasted “a bit like plastic string in flavoured water”. Ouch. If you’ve got a packet of these in your pantry, we suggest adding some extra ingredients like canned bamboo shoots, mushrooms and the like to give it a bit more oomph.

Total score: 2.8/5

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Contender #10: Shoyu, Nissin

  • Taste: 3.2
  • Texture: 3
  • Appearance: 3.4
  • Accuracy to Packet instructions: 3.4
  • Affordability: $0.75 for a 100g packet

What the Beef Nissin failed to deliver, this Shoyu flavoured one certainly did. We liked the extra packet of brown Shoyu sauce that came enclosed in the packet, which made it just that little bit more special. It was also voted a favourite by one of our testers.

Total score: 3.3/5

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Contender #11: Seafood, Nissin

  • Taste: 2.8
  • Texture: 2.8
  • Appearance: 2
  • Accuracy to Packet instructions: 2.8
  • Affordability: $ 0.75 for a 100g packet

The best word we can use to describe this one is, forgettable. Another one of the more average tasting flavours by Nissin.

Total score 2.6/5

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Contender #12: Miso, Nissin

  • Taste: 1.8
  • Texture: 2.2
  • Appearance: 2.6
  • Accuracy to Packet instructions: 2.6
  • Affordability: $0.75 for a 100g packet

Nissin’s Miso didn’t win too many votes either, unless you’re a huge fan of miso. Even then, it didn’t quite hit the mark as far as authenticity goes. It could also do with a minute or two extra of cooking time.

Total score: 2.3/5

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Contender #13: Prawn, Nissin

  • Taste: 3
  • Texture: 3
  • Appearance: 2.6
  • Accuracy to Packet instructions: 3.2
  • Affordability: $0.75 for a 100g packet

Nissin seems to have an affinity to prawn flavoured noodles. The noodles were springy, and the soup left a pretty pleasant aftertaste too.

Total score: 3/5

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Contender #14: XO Sauce Seafood, Nissin

  • Taste: 3.3
  • Texture: 2.5
  • Appearance: 2
  • Accuracy to Packet instructions: 2
  • Affordability:  $0.75 for a 100g packet

We heard some really good things from our readers about this one, but we had mixed reviews from our band of five taste testers. We were expecting a brown-coloured type broth from a soup base made with XO sauce, so we were really surprised when the final product turned out to be a creamy white broth. Overall though, we did think the XO sauce provided a great little twist on traditional flavours to give an ordinary dish just that bit more punch.

Total score: 2.5/5

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Contender #15: Sesame Oil, Nissin

  • Taste: 4.3
  • Texture: 3.5
  • Appearance: 3.8
  • Accuracy to Packet instructions: 3.3
  • Affordability:  $0.75 for a 100g packet

This was the dark horse that no one expected to win. There really is beauty in the simple, and we couldn’t get enough of this fragrant sesame oil infused bowl of piping hot noodles.

Total score: 3.7/5

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Contender #16: Seafood Ramyun, Nong Shim

  • Taste: 3
  • Texture: 2.3
  • Appearance: 3
  • Accuracy to Packet instructions: 2.7
  • Affordability: $1.00 for a 125g packet

Top marks for authenticity as Nong Shim’s Seafood Ramyun tasted most like seafood compared to all the other seafood flavoured ones we tasted in this review. So much so that one of our testers actually thought it tasted “a bit too fishy” for her liking.

Total score: 2.7/5

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Contender #17: Pork stew, Jinmailang

  • Taste: 2.6
  • Texture: 2.4
  • Appearance: 2.8
  • Accuracy to Packet instructions: 2.4
  • Affordability: $0.80 for a 143g packet

Total score: 2.6/5

Contender # 18: shrimp, Jinmailang

  • Taste: 2.3
  • Texture: 2.9
  • Appearance: 1.9
  • Accuracy to Packet instructions: 2.6
  • Affordability: $0.80 for a 143g packet

Total score: 2.4/5

Contender # 19: Mushroom Chicken, Jinmailang

  • Taste: 4.4
  • Texture: 3.1
  • Appearance: 3
  • Accuracy to Packet instructions: 3
  • Affordability: $0.80 for a 140g packet

Total score: 3.4/5

If you like traditional Chinese flavours, we recommend you go for these three Jinmailang varieties. Out of the three, we liked the Pork Stew and Mushroom Chicken the best. Noodle texture wasn’t too bad, and it’s also one of the bigger serves at about 140g per packet.

Too chicken to eat? Photo: Wan Shing Lang

Too chicken to eat? Photo: Wan Shing Lang

Contender # 20: Chicken Abalone, Myojo

  • Taste: 2.2
  • Texture: 2
  • Appearance: 2
  • Accuracy to Packet instructions: 2.4
  • Affordability: $0.60 for a 85g packet

Total score: 2.2/5

Contender # 21: Chicken Abalone, Unif

  • Taste: 1.3
  • Texture: 1.8
  • Appearance: 1.2
  • Accuracy to Packet instructions: 1.2
  • Affordability: $0.85 for a 85g packet

Total score: 1.4/5

Both Myojo and Unif had a chicken abalone flavoured instant noodle, so we decided to compare them side by side. Neither really tasted like abalone, though Myojo certainly was the better noodle on all counts. We found that the Unif-brand noodles broke every time we tried to pick it up with our fork.

INA's Yee Mee and Pan Mee instant noodles. Photo: Wan Shing Lang

INA’s Yee Mee and Pan Mee instant noodles. Photo: Wan Shing Lang

Contender # 22: Pan Mee, INA

  • Taste: 2.7
  • Texture: 2.7
  • Appearance: 3
  • Accuracy to Packet instructions: 3.2
  • Affordability: $1.30 for a 100g packet

We can’t tell you how excited we were when we pulled these noodles out of the packaging. They looked like the real deal – flat broad white noodles like the pan mee we know from home. We did make a little bit of a mess though, trying to fish for the sauce packets hidden right at the bottom of the plastic tray holding the noodles to add to the pot before the noodles were supposed to go in. Not that we’re complaining. We’re just so chuffed by how it tasted like pan mee should.

Total score: 3/5

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Contender # 23: Yee Mee, INA

  • Taste: 3
  • Texture: 3
  • Appearance: 2
  • Accuracy to Packet instructions: 3
  • Affordability: $1.30 for a 100g packet

We weren’t as impressed by INA’s yee mee as we were by the pan mee. It did well on taste, but we thought texture and appearance certainly could be improved on.

Total score: 2.8/5

Contender # 24: Moo Man Tok, Mama

  • Taste: 3
  • Texture: 3
  • Appearance: 2.8
  • Accuracy to Packet instructions: 3.3
  • Affordability: $0.38 for a 55g packet

Total score: 3/5

Contender # 25: Mi Hai Tom (prawn), Mama

  • Taste: 2.9
  • Texture: 2.8
  • Appearance: 2.6
  • Accuracy to Packet instructions: 3.2
  • Affordability: $0.55 for a 85g packet

Total score: 2.9/5

And finally, on to our last two contenders – the Moo Man Tok and Mi Hai Tom (prawn), both from the Thai brand Mama. Both flavours scored pretty well on taste, though we liked the Moo Man Tok just a tad more.

Photo: Wan Shing Lang

Photo: Wan Shing Lang

So with a belly full of oodles of noodles, we can now say we’ve finally finished our hunt for the best soupy instant noodles in town (for now), and the winner goes to Nissin’s Sesame Oil flavoured instant noodles! That said, we’d also like to give a special mention INA’s Pan Mee for blowing us away the way it did, and giving us that taste of home.

And in case you missed it, do check out our previous reviews of the dry and spicy instant noodle varieties. Just remember, instant noodles are a sometimes food. Nothing beats the real taste of honest food, as we discovered 45 packets of instant noodles later.

Some of our taste testers hard at work. Photo: Wan Shing Lang

Some of our taste testers hard at work. Photo: Wan Shing Lang

Thank you all too who have helped us with the taste test, and Yahweh Asian Grocery for allowing us to raid your shelves!

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This entry was posted on May 26, 2012 by in Lifestyle, Meld Magazine and tagged , .

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