The spicy noodle showdown.
It may be frowned upon in other parts of the world, but there’s simply no hiding our obsession with MSG-laden instant noodles. Delicious and conveniently ready to eat within a matter of minutes, what’s not to like? Top of the charts, thick Korean noodles are best-loved for their chewy, springy texture and spicy sauce. We’ve tasted five of the most popular and here’s what we think about them.
Samyang Hot Chicken Flavor Winner!
Who: On noticing the Korean obsession with fiery spicy chicken, Samyang was first to the mark in inventing Korean instant noodles and maintains a leading position in the industry today.
Taste: The sauce is flavorful without being overpowered by spiciness—just a great balance of salty and sweet. It blends seamlessly with the chewy noodles, too, though you can taste just a little of the potato starch contained in the noodles leaking into the sauce.
Verdict: The hearty bowl.
Samyang 2x Spicy Hot Chicken
Who: As if their original hot chicken flavor wasn’t spicy enough, Samyang took it a step further and introduced the double chili kick, clearly intent on setting mouths on fire.
Taste: The slightly sweet and creamy sauce has an eye-wateringly fiery kick and it clings well to the perfectly chewy yet soft noodles. While the noodles themselves don’t absorb much of the seasoning, they don’t get too dry, either.
Verdict: The fiery bowl.
Paldo Hwa Ramyun Runner Up!
Who: Formerly part of the Korea Yakult Company, Paldo was later rebranded as a separate business specializing in instant ramen, beverages and snacks.
Taste: These typical, thick Korean noodles are chewy yet soft, with a mild sauce that has just a little bit of spiciness for an overall mellow taste.
Verdict: The average bowl.
Nongshim Shin Cup Gourmet Spicy Pedas
Who: Formerly named Lotte Food Company, Nongshim is now the biggest manufacturer of Korean instant noodles, shifting its products in over a hundred countries around the world.
Taste: Similar to Paldo’s, the overall texture and taste of these noodles is pretty satisfying—thick and chewy with a relatively thin sauce that’s more spicy and aromatic than sweet. If you’re looking for a bowl of noodles with more of a kick, these could be for you.
Verdict: The reliable bowl.
Mr. Bibim Korean Spicy Chicken Flavor Yuck!
Who: Meaning “stir” in Korean, Bibim is one of Nongshim’s many products, made especially for a non-Korean palate with its drier noodles and less peppery kick.
Taste: These noodles are disappointingly thin—more on a level with typical instant noodles—meaning that although they still hold a little bit of chewiness, they are a little too soft. The sauce, however, tastes far worse—overly sweet, unrounded and not remotely fragrant.
Verdict: The tacky bowl.