Instant noodles from Japan

Japanese people are among the busiest in the world. They are always in a hurry or rushing off to the next activity. On the other hand, they also love hot, hearty, delicious meals. Moreover, though they may not have had enough time to prepare one from scratch, they will always have a steaming bowl of the meal, thanks to their favorite instant noodles.

They are available pre-cooked or dried noodles and comes with seasonings, oils, and sometimes, sauce. The precooked noodles come in a sealed package which can be reheated while the dried variety needs to be cooked or soaked in boiling water before eating.

History of instant noodles

It was during the post-World War II Japan that the instant noodle was born. Japan was suffering from the damages brought by the war and hunger was among the immediate concerns of that time.


After losing his job, Momofuku Ando was surveying the wreckage brought by aerial bombings in his native town of Osaka, Japan. While he was walking, he came across a group of people lining up for a bowl of ramen. He realized that a noodle soup has become universal comfort food, and people all over the world are in need of both things during that critical time—comfort and food. He thought that ending hunger will result in world peace.

A decade after that, Ando once again lost his job as the bank he was working for closed down. He thought of producing a post-war food. The ideal one should be easy to prepare, can be stored longer, economical, safe and healthy to eat, and most importantly, it should be delicious. During that time, he remembered the scene he witnessed where people are lining up for a bowl of ramen and realized, once again, that ramen is perfect comfort food.


But, first, where did ramen come from?

Ramen is not an original Japanese food but an adaptation of the Chinese wheat noodles. Chinese immigrant brought it to Japan in 1859 where they put up restaurants and stalls offering simple ramen dish with noodles, some toppings, and soup.

Hot, delicious, and satisfying, the Japanese grew fond of the ramen that it became a staple food for most of them.

Going Back...

Ando tried preserving noodles, but his initial attempts became futile. According to some stories, he threw some noodles into a hot, tempura oil. After some minutes, the noodles became dehydrated and tiny perforations formed in them that which helped cook them faster. Ando found success in this method of noodle preservation and just like that, the instant noodle was born.

He added seasonings to the preserved noodles which will return to its original state after it has been cooked in water. Ando sold this instant noodle which he called ‘Chikin Ramen’ for 35 yen. It is pricey, especially during that time that most groceries are selling fresh noodles at a fraction of the price of the Chikin Ramen. But expensive as it may be, the instant noodles became a hit, and it became famous not only among Japanese people but across Asia, as well. In no time, instant noodles took over the world by storm, as more people enjoyed the practicality and the economy they offer.

Japanese instant noodles types

Since they are already an essential part of the Japanese meal, different types of Japanese instant noodles were developed since it first came out. Now, there is an instant noodle that will match your every craving.

Instant Ramen

Ramen is the most common of all Japanese instant noodles that the term ‘ramen’ has been used synonymously as ‘instant noodles’ in some parts of the world. This type of noodle dish is actually a Japanese adaptation of the Chinese-style wheat noodle served in a meat or fish-based broth. Ramen instant noodle has become a saving grace for the people during World War II because it is easy to prepare and can be stored for an extended period of time.

Instant Udon

Udon noodles are thick and chewy, as compared to Ramen. Made from high-gluten wheat flour and seawater, they are often served hot and topped with thinly-chopped scallions, tempura, or tofu. Even as an instant noodle, the flavor of the broth varies depending on the region. Dark brown broth, made from dark soy sauce, is used the eastern part of Japan while the light brown broth used in western Japan is made from light soy sauce.

Instant Soba

Made predominantly with buckwheat flour, Soba is rich in fiber and contains protein, iron, and other healthy nutrients. These thin noodles can be enjoyed hot, with a broth as a noodle soup, or cold, chilled with a dipping sauce. The additional toppings are chosen depending on the current season. It is a Japanese custom to eat soba during New Year’s Eve.

Instant Yakisoba

A Japanese stir-fry noodle dish, yakisoba is actually made from wheat flour. They are usually flavored with oyster sauce and similar condiments and topped with pork, chicken, or beef slices and vegetables.

Instant noodles brands

There is an overwhelming selection of good brands that offer Japanese instant noodles. Each brand offers something unique that will surely appeal to groups of people with different preferences, as well. We made this list of various brands of Japanese instant noodles and what they are best to make it easier for you to make your choice.

Nissin Cup Noodles

Nissin was the first brand to introduce instant ramen in a cup and called it as Cup Noodles. After it was first exported in the United States, the global domination of the Nissin Cup Noodles has been unstoppable. They are popular across the globe and comes in different flavors. Because of their popularity, there were actually Nissin Cup Noodles in unique flavors which can only be found in certain countries.

Nissin Demae

An instant noodles based on the traditional Japanese Ramen, this one comes in a plastic packet. It is also popularly consumed in most countries in Asia and in other parts of the world and has a wide range of flavors to choose from.

Nissin Raoh

The Nissin Raoh line offers fancier and premium flavors to choose from.  The noodles are prepared without frying, and the soup was infused with an ‘umami’ broth. Like the Demae line, it also comes in a plastic packet though the dried noodle block is circular, as compared to Demae’s rectangular.

Sanyo Sapporo Ichiban

Literally meaning ‘Sapporo’s Number One,’ this noodle brand hails from Ichikawa, Chiba, Japan, and not really from Sapporo, Hokkaido area. Aside from instant ramen, this brand also offers instant yakisoba and kitsune udon. The brand is also popular in other countries such as Hong Kong, the United States, Mexico, Argentina, and Canada.


Myojo is the first instant noodle brand manufactured in Singapore. Since its’ first product, the Chicken Tanmen, was introduced, it has since grown into having more than 32 varieties of noodles, available in a packet, bowl, or cup packaging.  Other flavors include Prawn, Chicken Curry, Mee Goreng, and a lot more.


Maruchan started offering instant noodles in Japan in 1961 and brought it to the United States in 1977. Their product includes ramen, instant lunch, bowl, and yakisoba. Today, Maruchan is one of the leading instant noodle brands operating in the North America region.

How to enhance your Instant Noodles Flavor

Wonder what other ingredients can make your steaming, hot bowl of instant noodles more flavorful and more delicious? We listed down some popular ones that you can add to your next instant noodle meal.

  • EGG

An egg is sometimes added to the instant noodle soup for an added flavor and nutrients. It can be hard-boiled or scrambled, depending on the preference of the person who will eat it. If hard-boiled, the egg can be added whole or can be diced into cubes to serve as additional toppings. If scrambled, the egg will mix with the soup, adding texture to the otherwise, plain, clear soup.

  • Black Beans

Black bean, on the other hand, is first turned into a paste before roasting it or frying it in oil. Sugar is also added to balance the bitterness or saltiness of the bean paste. The end product is a sweet, spicy instant noodle meal with a brown sauce. Black bean instant noodle is a favorite Korean-Chinese meal that has also become a hit among worldwide consumers.

  • Curry

Curry is a mix of herbs and spices that gives off that warm, exotic flavor with a hint of spice. Across Asia, there are many variations of curry but, nonetheless, eating curry is a part of the Asian food experience but one should never miss out. Good thing that most instant noodle brands carry a curry-flavored variant in their product line.

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