- Instant Noodles Around the World
How long have you been staying at home for quarantine because of Coronavirus?! While some of you are probably busy trying to try new recipe because you’ve been blessed by astonishing cooking skills, some of us could only thank God for the invention of one thing: instant noodles.
Well, at least for me. I suck at cooking, and I’m proud to say that I’m a delivery queen. Honestly, I don’t think I’d survive if I had to get stuck in the quarantine 15 years ago when delivery service was very rare. LOL.
So anyway, this gave me an idea to compile various instant noodles around the world. And in this post, I’m collaborating with some other fellow bloggers to present instant noodles in various countries with some hacks to serve it when you feel a bit fancy.
I mean, I’m from a country where Indomie comes from. I don’t just buy them when I’m on survival mode. I buy them because it’s a necessity in my household. #asianproblem
And speaking of Indomie, my Indonesian pride kicks in when I found out that the brand is well-known in so many countries in the world. Even better, because they also have their own way to serve the noodles.
Instant Noodles Around the World
Did you know that there’s actually an organization called World Instant Noodles Association (WINA) in which they’re there to improve the industry while at the same time enhance people’s diet by improving the quality of instant noodles production around the world?
Well, WINA is actually a legit organization and it’s not so surprising since instant noodles are popular in so many parts of the world. My home country Indonesia has become the second largest instant noodle market in the world after China.
Mind you, instant noodles aren’t only popular around Asia because there are many western countries that regularly consume instant noodles in their daily basis. Some have their own signature instant noodles, while some other rely on some imported brands for them to stock up.
So, what instant noodles are popular in some countries? How do they usually serve it apart from the conventional way to boil it for 3-5 minutes? I’m compiling the answers here for you in this post!
It’s so hard not to associate noodles with Asia. I mean, it’s originally from Asia, and believe it or not…. When it comes to instant noodles, 8 out of the top 10 countries for instant noodle’s global consumption are located in Asia.
Asia loves instant noodles so much that even Japan voted instant noodles as the country’s best invention in the 20th century.
So yes, it’s only fair that I will stick with Asia first in this post.
Shin Ramyun in South Korea
Shin Ramyun is a very delicious instant noodle dish from South Korea. It comes in two different packaging of red or black. The red package is the original spicy version whereas the black version is the more premium upscale version.
And depending on where you go to get these ramen packs, you can expect to pay around $4 to 5 USD for the regular red package and $5 to 6 USD for the premium black package.
The difference between these two packaging is that the black version has bigger chunks of food items like leafy greens and mushrooms. It also comes with an extra packet of seasoning which enhances the flavor of the broth.
Although in my opinion, I still prefer the regular red package mainly because it is cheaper than the black version. I also think that it is spicier as well. The only time I would get the black version is if it is on sale which would make it a good buy.
Now normally when I eat these noodles, I would typically add in some chunks of either beef or chicken to give it that extra oomph that it needs. Also, I would sometimes add in a slice of cheese as well to make it creamier and cheesy. Overall it is a tasty ramen pack that I think everybody would enjoy.
-Wayne of Daily Tourist.
Mama Noodles in Thailand
In Thailand instant noodles are a staple of daily life for many people, and more so for students and travelers as they really are a cheap and convenient option for those on a budget.
And the big brand name would be Mama Noodles where, like most instant ramen, they have both big and small packets (6 – 8 Baht) and pot noodles (13 Baht) for sale at every convenience store or pit stop in the country.
They will also have boiling water on tap at every 7-11, FamilyMart, and Lawsons making it simple to eat pot noodles on the go.
In Thailand, the main/original flavors of Mama would be Tom Yum (hot and sour soup), Tom Yum Creamy, and Moo Saap (spicy minced pork) although there will likely be 5-10 optional flavors on the shelves.
Mama has even become a staple in cooking, where, similar to Pad Thai, a common noodles dish is Pad Mama (fried instant noodles) for a more ‘gourmet’ option on this cheap snack. But my wife also eats them completely plain and uncooked like snacking on a packet of crisps.
Personally, I prefer mine dry (haeng) mixed with a bit of chili jam (prik pao), peanuts, and maybe with a crispy fried egg on top (kai dao suk).
-Allan of It’s Sometimes Sunny in Bangor.
Lucky Me Instant Pancit Canton in the Philippines
Ever since I was young, Lucky Me Instant Pancit Canton has been one of my favorite snacks. It is very popular in the Philippines because of its savory flavor. This instant noodle is very cheap as well, it is only 11.80 PHP or around $0.25. When you are visiting the Philippines, you can find this product in any convenience store.
When I was young I only eat the original flavor which is not spicy, but growing up my taste buds has changed and I wanted it spicy.
My favorite flavors are extra hot chili and sweet & spicy. A popular additional topping for this instant noodle is an egg! It makes the savory and spicy flavor balanced. It is a perfect combination!
You can choose a sunny side up or a boiled egg, but for me, I prefer the latter because it is easier.
Here is how I cook it, boil the water, and add the egg, leave for at least 4 minutes. After 4 minutes, add the instant noodle. While waiting, mix the special seasoning, soy sauce, and oil on a plate. Drain the water after, peel the egg and mix the noodles on the plate with the seasoning.
That’s it. I hope you will try Lucky Me Instant Pancit Canton once you visit the Philippines.
-Roneth of The Fickle Feet.
Lucky Me Instant Pancit Canton is the famous instant noodles that are eaten by Filipinos which come in assorted flavors. Once asked what’s the name of their noodle, they respond Lucky Me automatically.
Lucky Me is very quick to prepare. My favorite is the chilimansi flavor. Its citrus flavor blended with hot spices gives so much comfort.
At this world’s health situation that almost all people became financially broke, having this Lucky Me brings assurance that one can get a full meal in just a little amount spent.
That’s why, due to panic-buying, groceries limited buyers for 5 pieces each. So, each one has a chance to have this instant noodles.
Now is the time to choose healthier foods. So if I have this instant noodle, I add left-over cooked vegetables in it. Then, I fry an egg. Top them all to my drained and seasoned Lucky Me, and I have a sure meal.
Would you believe that if you prepare a pack of Lucky Me, adding egg and toppings and pair it with cups of rice, you can feed two of your family members? Yes, Filipino can’t live without rice. So, if there is Lucky Me, rest assured, they can sustain everyday quarantine life.
Indomie Mi Goreng in Indonesia
Mi goreng, one of Indonesia’s most delicious dishes, has been reimagined by Indomie in instant form. It is the first, and original, mi goreng flavored instant noodles, cherished by millions of Indonesians, as well as people all across the globe.
As a budget-oriented traveler, instant noodles are my savior when looking for an affordable way to eat in foreign countries. My first experience with Indomie Mi Goreng was when I picked it off a shelf in Canggu, Bali. The bright red packages lined the shelves, with pricing around 5,000 IDR ($0.30 USD), it was an easy choice.
I bought some and took it back to my hostel. Set up was simple, albeit a bit haphazard. You’re supposed to add the seasoning, chilli, oil, and sauce to the noodles and add water. Without scissors I attempted to tear the packets which ultimately ended up with me covered in sauce.
I did manage to get some of it in the cup, however, and the ensuing “dish” was impressive. Compared to the instant noodles I used to get back home in New Zealand (chicken or beef…), this was something next level.
Fast forward a few weeks, I’d made my way into Java and happened to come across some different flavours! I didn’t think things would get better, but it turns out combining two of Indonesia’s best dishes, mi goreng and rendang, is a great idea. If you spot the rendang flavored Indomie Mi Goreng, make sure to give it a try.
Returning home during Covid-19, I can wholeheartedly recommend turning things up a notch by poaching an egg in the pot you cook the noodles in. You can also turn it into a cheap and easy stir fry by adding fried eggs, vegetables, and some meat or tofu.
-Delilah of Our Travel Mix.
ABC Selera Pedas in Indonesia
When it comes to Indonesia and instant noodles, it’s no brainer that people will associate it with Indomie. They’re the market leader in instant noodle industry after all. But what if I tell you that Indomie is not the only Indonesian instant noodle that is worth trying?
Even long before some popular Korean spicy instant noodle like Samyang entered the market for super spicy noodles, ABC with their Selera Pedas (Indonesian words for Spicy Taste) already has some of their signature spicy noodle options. And they come in both fried and soup noodles as well as cup noodles.
I suppose their cup noodles variant is much, much better compared to Indomie’s. However, recently they come up with a new flavor for their fried noodle variant. It’s the one with spicy mayo cheese flavor, in which I’m certain it will be suitable for international tastebuds.
They cost around 5000 IDR, and they’re available mostly in some big supermarkets like Carrefour, Super Indo, or Hypermart. Most likely you won’t find this variant in a small convenience store but I could assure you that it’s worth the effort.
Apart from the sauce and seasoning, they also come with shredded cheese as well as a small packet of mayonnaise. It’s super creamy, and you can even add some corned beef or sliced hot dogs as the topping to enjoy. Definitely one tasty way to enjoy the quarantine!
Maggi in India
The product was released in Indian markets during the early days of the free market economy in the 90s. We soon adapted to Maggi being a go to early morning breakfast before school started.
A favorite with the 90s kids, Maggi soon hit the street side vendors for a quick and cheap snack. Needless to say, during the trying times of worldwide lockdown, Maggi became a favorite for a large number of Indians who are stranded without help who cooks food. Or a family which has someone else to prepare great Indian meals!
Maggi has adapted to the Indian market very well even before that. Chicken flavored Maggi mashala for the states favoring non-veg dishes. Paneer pasanda Maggi Mashala for the Indian states with a knack for vegetarian food. Maggi knows their customer well.
The street-side vendors improvised Maggi all the more! Anda Maggi, meaning Maggi with an egg, fried and decked on the top, is a favorite!
Maggi with cheese, maggi with chicken are rather famous and need a decent cooking style but at home, Maggi can be cooked with innovation. A bit of savory added to Maggi makes it a chat.
A small pouch of maggi costs as low as INR 15. Maggi has a decent shelf life. When met with criticism that Maggi is unhealthy, because it is just processed flour, the company introduced an “Atta” variant. It ticked off all the criteria, gluten-free, whole wheat, and appealed to health-conscious millennials.
-Madhurima of Orange Wayfarer.
Yippee Noodles in India
Yippee Noodles by Sunfeast is one of the most popular brands of instant noodles in India. It is just around INR 55 for a pack of 6 blocks of noodles.
It comes in various packages, and typically one pack of Yippie contains a round block of noodles and the taste-maker. Available in different flavors like Magic masala, Classic Masala, and Chinese Masala, it is easy to cook and tastes just delicious.
Our favorite character is the Classic Masala which has a beautiful aroma and pleasant taste which also goes well with any add-ons.
It is best when prepared with additional fried vegetables, scrambled eggs or any meat. It can be cooked in under 5 minutes by just adding the noodles to boiling water and then adding the taste-maker and other toppings.
We love eating Yippee as soup noodles as well as fried noodles with extra spice and cheese.
The best thing about Yippee is that it does not stick or clump up after cooking and it also has noodles made of whole wheat flour which makes it relatively healthier! It is seen as one of the main competitors of Maggie Noodles in India.
-Athul of Our Backpack Tales.
Prima Kottu Mee in Sri Lanka
A packet of Prima Kottu Mee costs 50 Sri Lankan rupees in the market, which is about $0.3 USD.
While I try to avoid instant noodles (for obvious health-related reasons), I can fondly talk about the times this humble instant noodle made inside the Prima Group factories in Sri Lanka saved me.
I remember being hosteled without a kitchen and proper food, and with little money so I’d rely on a packet or a cup of Kottu Mee for dinner. And on some days, I’d have little desire or little emotional energy to cook or go out for a meal. And Kottu Mee comes like a blessing again.
However, when I grew up, I’d sometimes make this survival noodle into a beautiful meal. I love my Kottu Mee topped with some grilled chicken or mixed with a scrambled egg.
I also cut and add fresh veggies like carrots, leeks, onions, and cabbage. It also tastes delightful with some shredded cheese. And even today, when I don’t feel like cooking an elaborated meal, I’d occasionally open a Kottu Mee, season it, top it with an egg and devour it with love.
Instant noodles like Kottu Mee speak volumes to our Asian hearts. They are closer to our lives because they are what keep us full and satisfied on days where we are broke. On dull days, on happy days and on days where there’s little energy, there will always be a warm cup of Kottu Mee. Sometimes with fresh toppings. Other times, just a humble boiled noodle.
-Zinara of Nat N Zin.
While instant noodle market in Oceania probably isn’t as big as in Asia, the growth number of Asian community in Australia, New Zealand and their surroundings has also increased the consumption of instant noodles in the region.
If I remember correctly, the first Indomie donut that has eventually gone viral was first introduced in Sydney. So yes, Oceania has a growing market for instant noodles too.
Maggi in Australia
Maggi noodles is a Swiss brand, popular around the world, including Australia.
At the supermarket, the 2 minute noodles cost $3.50 AUD for a pack of 5 or $8.00 AUD for a 10 pack. The 2 minute single cups cost less than $2.00 AUD, while the instant noodle bowls cost $2.50 AUD.
They come in a wide range of flavors. My favorite is oriental. Other flavors include chicken, beef, chicken and corn, Japanese teriyaki, Malaysian laksa, curry, tom yum, masala, mi goreng hot and spicy, and mi goreng soy and mild. Some of the flavors have a wholegrain noodle option.
Maggi noodles are great on their own as a snack with or without the broth. By adding toppings, you can turn Maggi noodles from a snack or light meal to a complete meal. When cooking on the stove top, I like to crack an egg and mix it into the broth.
Leftover diced or shredded meat, like chicken, beef, pork, and duck, also work well. Vegetable toppings I like to add include bok boy, choy sum, broccoli, and peas.
Maggi noodles are great for eating at home or camping. They are also fantastic when traveling with baby and toddler, as a couple, or on your own.
–Clara of Petite Capsule.
Indomie in New Zealand
Instant noodles are a pretty popular student food in New Zealand – there’s a lot to be said for cheap and fast right?!!
Maggi introduced instant noodles to mainstream supermarkets in NZ many years ago, with their ‘2 minute noodles’. Their branding was so strong, that even today, most kiwis would refer to instant noodles as ‘2 minute noodles’.
Many years down the track, and with a large Asian population, the instant noodle options have hugely grown. My kids prefer Indomie ‘Mi Goreng’ which was on special last week at the supermarket. 2 packets (of 5) for $5. (so that’s 10 for $5, or .50c NZ a packet, which at the current exchange rate = US 0.31c)
My favorite way to eat instant noodles, is in a noodle omelet. This makes a great breakfast, lunch, or light dinner. Omelets are a great healthy option for a meal, but you don’t always finish one feeling satisfied. The noodles add those extra carbs needed to make you feel like you’ve actually eaten something.
I make a base omelet from 2 eggs, mixed with a little milk. I cook this in a non-stick frypan, with a little olive oil. As that’s cooking, prep the noodles as per directions.
Once the eggs and noodles are cooked, add your toppings to half the omelet. If using cheese, I like to add that first so it melts (nothing better than melted cheese), then the noodles, then the other toppings.
As you’ll see, I love cheese, ham, fresh tomatoes and parsley. Fold over the top, then carefully slide out of the pan. Sometimes it can be difficult to slide it out in one beautiful piece, but hey, who cares, if it’s a hot mess on your plate, trust me, it’ll still taste delicious!
-Megan of My Moments and Memories.
Instant noodles have become popular in the United States as the country ranks the 6th by the annual serving number of instant noodles across the globe.
WINA also expects the popularity of instant noodles in South America will be increasing in the future, as Brazil is currently on the top 10 of global instant noodle’s consumption.
Now that I think about it, it actually makes sense since Brazil is the country with the second-largest population of Japanese descent. I mean, if you put two and two together, it makes sense right?!
Nissin Chow Mein Noodle in the United States
The founder of Nissin Foods, Momofuku Ando, is credited with the invention of instant noodles (also called instant ramen). The company introduced to the market its first product in 1968 and in 1972 it started to manufacture noodles in Gardena (Los Angeles County), California.
The rest is history. The recognizable Cup Noodles (ramen noodles in a cup that are ready to eat in 3 to 5 minutes) have been sold all over the world and gained a place in popular culture. In Southern California, restaurants and food trucks have revolutionized the way Cup Noodles are eaten by adding ingredients such as bacon, fried eggs, crab, and fried chicken. Others even add carne asada, pico de gallo, and cotija cheese.
My favorite noodles line from Nissin is “Chow Mein.” Flavors include teriyaki beef, chicken teriyaki, chicken, spicy teriyaki beef, shrimp, spicy chicken, kung pao chicken, and pad thai.
Noodles are cooked, on an included tray, for 4 to 5 minutes. Once tender, a sauce and seasoning powder are added. These products sell for $1 a piece in many supermarkets.
I prefer the beef and chicken teriyaki flavors. I can add chicken, mushrooms, boiled eggs, and sriracha. Sometimes I buy the pad thai flavor and add crushed peanuts, green onions, and a bit of lemon juice.
-Ruth from Tanama Tales.
What interests me about instant noodles in Europe is that among many countries in Europe, Hungary actually came up as one of the leading markets in Europe with them being the 43rd country in the world in terms of instant noodles consumption.
Unfortunately, I couldn’t find anyone from Hungary to cover it for this collab. However, I could find some from the UK. So, how are instant noodles in this part of the world?
Pot Noodle in the United Kingdom
Growing up in the UK in the north of England, there is one food that was always a go-to as a hungry kid – and that’s a Pot Noodle.
The instant noodle brand has achieved almost cult-status among students as a perfect meal for breakfast, lunch or dinner. And even though I now live in Australia and haven’t eaten one for a long time, I can still recall the taste of my favorite pot – the Beef and Tomato.
Despite having 11 different flavors, from BBQ Pulled Pork to Sticky Rib and Chicken Korma, my favorite thing about Pot Noodles is that they are all actually meat-free, using soya pieces and flavored vegetables for texture and taste. Being a vegan, it is great to have such a wide variety of choice!
The Pot Noodle slogan is ‘Cook Less, Live More’ – the noodles are ready in 4 minutes so definitely not a time-consuming meal to cook!
The self-proclaimed ‘King of Snacks’ costs under £1 per pot. For the larger appetite, you can get king-size Pot Noodles, but when we were extra hungry we always buttered some bread or a burger roll and enjoyed noodle sandwiches – yum!
-Bryony from Vegan Possum.
Nissin Damae Ramen in the United Kingdom
Our favourite instant noodle is Nissin Demae Ramen – first introduced in Japan, it became a popular brand of instant noodles worldwide. A packet costs just 45p and they are sold in most major supermarket stores in the UK, such as Tesco, Asda, and Morrisons.
With over sixteen flavours from chicken to spicy beef to Tom Yum, my favourite is the vegetable flavour.
It’s become my go-to instant noodles brand ever since I discovered from my partner Ariel that you can be creative and make various soups and snacks with them, making them more enjoyable and filling.
This was new to me as a typical Brit, since most of my fellow country folks eat instant noodles as they are – from the package they are in, with no additional toppings (and usually one of the two major brands – Pot Noodle or Super Noodles.)
We prefer to enjoy ramen soup in the evenings when we’re either too tired to cook a big meal, broke, or just out of ideas on what to have for dinner.
We’ll have it with a combination of three to four of the following: fish balls, prawns, pork or vegetable gyozas (Japanese dumplings), boiled egg, chopped coriander, and chopped garlic.
-Billy of BRB Somewhere Epic.
Yakisoba Soy Sauce Noodles in Spain
My favorite instant noodles are the Yakisoba soy sauce noodles that I can buy in my local supermarket in Spain for only a Euro.
In the winter months, it’s perfect to make noodle soup with some extra soy sauce and chili. Some times I even crumble up a bit of tofu to soak in the soup and add a few drops of freshly squeezed lemon.
Additionally, you can fry up a bit of broccoli and carrot to freshen up the soup with fresh vegetables. This is the perfect way to keep warm in a cold Spanish house in winter.
However, noodles are great all year round and I’ve made a few delicious recipes with them like vegan spicy broccoli and mushroom noodles. You can cook up whatever veggies you want really.
Grate carrots and fry up with tofu bits, and eggplant. Or maybe you prefer zucchini and sweet potato. Whatever you prefer, add chili, ginger, and lemon.
These flavors mixed with the soy sauce, it makes for a palatable and tangy meal. And the best of all, it takes less than 15 minutes to cook it all up!
-Linn of Easy Way to Vegan.
As an Indomie enthusiast myself, I know that Indomie is quite huge in some other parts of the world outside Indonesia. Particularly in the Middle East and Africa.
I have some friends working for Indofood, the company producing Indomie, in Saudi Arabia. And I also read a lot of stuff about how Indomie has grown to become a household necessity in Nigeria to the point that Indomie opened its first overseas manufacturing plant in the country.
So it is interesting to know the market positioning of instant noodles in Africa apart from that.
Indomie in Egypt
The most popular instant noodles brand in Egypt is hands down Indomie. As Indomie is widely available and offers a variety of flavors, the brand is everyone’s favorite, even though there are other imported brands in the market.
Its affordability also plays a major role as the pack of noodles costs EGP 2.95 and the cup costs EGP 6 only! So, if you’re on your lunch break and broke or have nothing to eat at home, Indomie is your go-to.
Egyptians don’t usually add any extra toppings to the noodles; we normally stick to the spices in the pack since we’ve got plenty of flavors to choose from anyway.
A hint of lemon juice wouldn’t harm though, as it’s a very commonly used addition to soup in Egypt. Flavors include beef, chicken, chicken curry, shrimps, and vegetables. Other than the beef flavor, the fried noodles edition is also very popular.”
-Nadine of Curls en Route.
So yes… Now that we know how instant noodles culture around the world, let me know how it is in your part of the world!
How do you like to serve your instant noodles? And which one is your favorite? Tell me your experience in the comment below, and cheerio! 😀