This week we celebrate the anniversary of the instant noodle in Japan, which was first introduced on Aug. 25, 1958. Much loved by students on a budget, most instant noodles take only 3 minutes to prepare once you’ve added some hot water. Below are some recommendations for next time you’re in the convenience store.
- The original and the best, Nissin’s instant cook Chicken Ramen. These were invented by Momofuku Ando in response to post-war food shortages. The noodles were seasoned, fried and then dehydrated before being packaged into bricks. They were called magic noodles because of their miraculous transformation into real food. (There is a scene in Hayao Miyazaki’s “Ponyo on the Cliff by the Sea” where Ponyo is totally gobsmacked watching instant noodles being made for the first time.) Traditionally a raw egg is cracked into the finished mixture and Nissin’s adverts for Chicken Ramen still show the meal being prepared this way.
- Robot fans might want to get their mitts on these Gundam Cup Noodles that come with a free Gundam figure. Nissin is still the biggest player in the instant noodle market with their Cup Noodle range. Ando also invented the Styrofoam cup which is used to this day.
- So cute: Q-cup do a range of instant noodles that have naruto (small fish cakes which traditionally have a swirl in them) with really cute pig faces on them. They’re worth trying just for the kawaii (cute) factor.
- Cup Noodle has also cornered the market on weird flavors, none stranger, in my opinion, than the cheese curry flavor. Try it at your peril.
- My last choice is a personal favorite. There aren’t very many spicy cup noodle flavors in Japan, but if you like chillis this will blow your socks off. Ace Cook’s Tantanmen is not only packed with chillis but it also has a special spicy sauce to add too.
Ramen otaku already know this … but if you want to learn about instant noodles visit the Momofuku Ando instant noodle museum in Osaka.