Eat this: Five instant Asian market noodles undergo a CL taste test

Time to kick your standard supermarket instant noodles to the curb.

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click to enlarge It's about time you stepped up your instant noodle game. - Elsie Hui via Flickr
Elsie Hui via Flickr
It's about time you stepped up your instant noodle game.

The world of ready-in-no-time noodles extends beyond your standard supermarket's Maruchan Instant Lunches or Top Ramen. Many Asian countries have their own instant-noodle renditions of national dishes, and they're an easy way to curb a craving while getting an idea of what another country's cuisine tastes like.

To make room for better, tastier instant noodles in your pantry, start with these five brands that were put to a CL taste test. I found them all at Tampa's Oceanic Oriental Supermarket (A-Green Supermarket and MD Oriental Market are great as well), and though I enjoyed certain noodles more than others, pick up a pack and try some yourself.

click to enlarge Eat this: Five instant Asian market noodles undergo a CL taste test
Shelbi Hayes

Nongshim's Champong Spicy Seafood Noodle Soup was just, well, spicy. It's as if the company loaded chili oil or power into a normal Top Ramen packet. While heat is right up my alley, it overpowers the dish and leaves no trace of seafood goodness. The noodles had to be eaten quickly, too, because they became too spongy as they sat in the broth. South Korean, MSG.

click to enlarge Eat this: Five instant Asian market noodles undergo a CL taste test
Shelbi Hayes

From Paldo, Jjajangmen Chajang Noodle showcases a thick noodle with dense, dark soy bean sauce. Sometimes sauce packets are on the oily side, but this one isn't, thankfully. Although the veggie toppings pictured on the pack are colorful, there's a lack of vibrancy to the veg inside since it's been sitting in the sauce packet for who knows how long. Overall, the taste is sweet and bean-y. My main issue with this one is that the black bean flavor lingered in a slightly unpleasant way. However, if you can get past that, it's pretty tasty. Chinese, no MSG.

click to enlarge Eat this: Five instant Asian market noodles undergo a CL taste test
Shelbi Hayes

Lucky Me! Pancit Canton by Monde Nissin is an explosion of garlic in your mouth, so garlic haters beware. The noodles don’t look like much once their seasonings are mixed together, but who cares? Out of all the packs, the pancit seasoning included here is the most well-rounded. Citrus is absent, but you can taste the soy and aforementioned garlic. Filipino, MSG.

click to enlarge Eat this: Five instant Asian market noodles undergo a CL taste test
Shelbi Hayes

Prima Taste's Singapore Curry La Mian is this list's most expensive bundle of noodles at about $3. Its curry flavor isn't as in-your-face as traditional curry, but the coconut and and spices were distinct (die-hard curry fans may have to add additional spices for a more intense flavor). Coconut milk gives the broth a smooth texture and evens out the heat of the spices, so it's more like a twist, not a kick. The pack could easily become a full meal if tofu, cooked chicken or shrimp were added. Singaporean, no MSG.

click to enlarge Eat this: Five instant Asian market noodles undergo a CL taste test
Shelbi Hayes

Tom Yum Shrimp has a little bit of heat to it. The spiciness of this instant soup from a brand called Mama is there but isn't overpowering, and its seafood flavor (more prominent than some of the others) won't freak out your taste buds. The noodles have a skinnier cut and a heavy wheat/grain flavor, so it was a nice change from other packs' blander noodles. The ingredient list says there's garlic, though it lacks in that department and has an artificial lemon flavor. Thai, MSG.

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