Which of the region’s instant noodles reign supreme? Coconuts Q&A

By Team Coconuts | Sept. 6, 2022

Coconuts Q&A is a regular feature in which our reporters and editors get together to discuss important subjects that demand the expertise of our entire team based around the region. This week, we’re tackling the highly contentious topic of instant noodles and which brand deserves to be named number one.

Every Filipino knows the Lucky Me! Pancit Canton supremacy! It’s the ultimate after-school snack: you put down your bag, plop yourself down in front of the TV and eat a plate of this stuff while waiting for cartoons to come on. It may or may not have gotten some broke college kids (that may or may not be me) through many nights of cramming and hangovers. Sure, they had that recent pesticide issue, but what insanely good and affordable instant product hasn’t been embroiled in its own food scandal? (Looking at you, Indomie.) With the batshit politics going on in the Philippines, Lucky Me returning to its old thinner noodles LIKE A CHAMP is one thing that’s gone right. Because, let’s face, it the flat noods they attempted a few years back is the one reason Indomie nearly overtook its home turf. And if you don’t agree with me…. Let’s hope millions of angry Filipinos don’t come at you. #PinoyPride 

P.S. Chilimansi (that’s chili and calamansi for you geniuses) flavor, hands down. – Sam Beltran, Coconuts Manila Reporter

I mean, come on. Nongshim’s Shin Ramyun doesn’t ever go wrong. I’ve eaten it at all times of the day, sometimes all day (no shame). There’s just something about its noodles, which taste great even if you overcook them, and its beef broth has just the right amount of pepper and spice that won’t choke or sweat you out. It also doesn’t need much, I’ll usually add an egg and, if I feel a little funky, chives and a slice of cheese. A pack comes in five for only S$5 (unlike Anand’s, geez) and one is just enough to fill the usual tummy. The Black edition also kicks ass because it comes with an extra packet of seolleongtang (ox bone soup) powder that elevates the broth into rich goodness. Many Korean restaurants use it in their cooking so if the locals are priding on it, you know it’s the real deal. – Carolyn Teo, Coconuts Singapore Reporter

Having previously lived in Jakarta for many years, it feels somewhat blasphemous for me not to answer Indomie. But I live in Singapore now and I’ve got to admit there’s an atas instant noodle variety here that has stolen my heart. That would be Prima Taste Wholegrain Laksa La Mian. At around SG$3 per package, it’s way pricier than Indomie (or almost any other instant noodles variety), but I think it’s worth it. The well-seasoned laksa broth is made with both a powder and a separate paste packet that gives it a rich, sumptuous body unlike any other instant soup I’ve tried, plus the noodles are wonderfully thick and chewy (though the downside of that is they take 7 minutes to cook, which I admit is really stretching the definition of “instant”). It’s also been at the top of the Ramen Raters list of the best instant noodles for several years, and that dude has tried thousand of different varieties from every country that makes them. – Anand Mathai, Editor-in-Chief

I can’t even believe we’re having this conversation: INDOMIE ALL THE WAY. Hands down, bar none. Indomie Goreng (fried noodle) to be precise – I mean, it’s more than just the fact that it is cheaper (side eye to Anand) and tastier, Indomie is, ladies and gentlemen (and those in betweens): A CULTURE. Indomie Goreng is so popular that there’s now potato chips and one even attempted to make a cake out of it. It even inspires modern art. While I admit that I don’t travel around that much, I think ultimately I will always go back to Indomie Goreng due to its simplicity and familiarity – it feels like home. Like no matter where I go – I can always go back home through the savory, rich taste of Indomie Goreng. Amahl S. Azwar, Coconuts Bali Managing Editor

Yes, Indomie will always have my vote and I do love it for its versatility – I’ve made Indomie donuts and Indomie cacio e pepe before but I find myself adding this particular one into my cart for my monthly groceries: Papa Oriental Style Instant Kua-Chap. Originally from Thailand, the “Oriental Style” refers to the clear broth which is not exactly tom yum-flavored but just as strong, spicy and even a little herbaceous. But most of the flavor comes from the garlic oil, one of the condiments included. Instead of the usual ramen noodles, this one is a kway chap noodle which is square and flat out of the packet but curls into tubes when cooked. To make the broth creamier, I crack an egg and stir it directly into the soup to create that egg drop effect. Good soup. – Delfina Utomo, Regional Managing Editor

I don’t know about your Papa noodles – I’m a Mama’s boy.  First, a confession: I’m not Thai. But I grew up eating what Americans universally refer to as “Top Ramen,” and starving college students there just call “dinner.” So imagine my immigrant delight when I found that, when not feasting on strikingly delicious food, Thais are eating instant noodles. A lot of instant noodles, and all machine-made to perfection. So many flavors too, including the simple-yet-oh-so good moo sub, spicy tom yum goong and sweet-and-sour yen ta fo. And despite the many instant noodle brands here – and there are many – everyone just calls’em Mama as they’re the most ubiquitous maker. – Todd Ruiz, Regional Managing Editor

Happiness comes in many forms and one of them is Maggi Asam Laksa.  As a Malaysian, Maggi Asam Laksa is the absolute best go-to meal if you’re broke, after a night out, or whenever you feel like having instant noodles. Plus, a pack of five costs just RM5. The ironic thing is that it tastes nothing like actual Asam Laksa, yet it’s the next best thing to it. The flavours are just right, not too spicy or sour, and you can eat it just as it is, without adding anything else. Except maybe some cili padi if you’re a spicy freak like me. Indomie’s great but I like my noods a little soupy. – Aminah Farid, Coconuts Kuala Lumpur Reporter 

The fact that Indomie has been mentioned in six entries here makes it a clear winner in my book. However, in the interest of variety, I am putting forward the pretender to the Indonesian throne: Mie Sedaap (they’re so sure of its quality they put two As in the Indonesian word for delicious). If you’re willing to venture out of your Indomie safety blanket, Mie Sedaap is by no means that inferior to its rival. In fact, in an obvious attempt to slurp into the local market, Mie Sedaap consistently introduces new flavors inspired by Indonesian cuisine. They also like to go all out with their garnishes — have you ever had bakso (meatballs) in your cup noodles? Andra Nasrie, Regional Managing Editor

As someone who spent a large part of my life in Singapore and lived through the Korean wave, I must say that Prima Taste Wholegrain Laksa La Mian, Maggi Mee and Nongshim’s Shin Ramyun are all strong contenders. But when it comes to the best instant noodles in the region, hands down it has got to go to Nissin’s Cup Noodles Regular Cup Seafood Flavour. At around HK$9, it is nothing fancy, but exactly what you want in a cup of instant noodles. Quick, convenient, slightly chewy noodles that you can slurp down easily and a flavorful broth — made by the company that invented cup noodles!

I learned that during my tour of the Cup Noodles Museum Hong Kong, where I also made my own Nissin cup noodles — not something you can do for all your picks yeah? – Peace Chiu, Coconuts Hong Kong Senior Reporter

You’ve heard us make our cases, now it’s your turn. Let us know which of these instant noodle brands you stan or if there’s a superior mie we’re all missing out on by adding your comments to our Facebook poll: