I'm talking about ramyeon - those flavor-packed instant noodles, which is actually like kimchi to Koreans. They love it, they thrive on it, and they've even earned a world record for it; South Korea, in fact, ranks number 1 in the world for ramen intake. They love their ramyeon so much that some would even say they are on a 'noodle diet'.
While I have no plans of becoming a ramyeon addict myself, I do eat ramyeon occasionally and have enjoyed some of the brands/variants that I've tried. I used to have very low tolerance for spicy food, but after marrying a man who cooks the most awesome Bicol Express (spicy pork stew made with coconut milk and chilies), and after visiting Korea twice within a span of six months, I guess my spice tolerance has amped up by a bit.
Here are some of the ramyeon brands that I have tried:
|Nongshim Hearty Beef Rice Noodle Soup.|
Like I've mentioned, my taste buds can not handle spice very well. I chanced upon this ramyeon at SM Supermarket and seeing how it's the only variant that isn't black or red in color (an indicator of spice), and has no pictures of chilies on it, I decided to buy a cup and give it a try.
True enough, this ramyeon isn't spicy at all! The broth is very flavorful, the kind that you would want to sip on a cold, rainy night. It also has a creamy color, and a nice beefy taste. The rice noodles are pretty good, too - not overly chewy with good texture and consistency.
If you have very little tolerance for spicy food but want to get acquainted with Korean (noodle) flavors, this brand is a great choice to begin with.
|Nongshim Yukgaejang Ramyeon.|
This is one of my husband's favorite ramyeon brands, mostly because they get to enjoy bowls of these at work, for free. (Their boss leaves boxes of these for them to eat as snacks, lol.) My husband brought home a bowl one time, and guess who enjoyed it just as much?
|The boy now has a thing for ramyeon. He likes to eat it with cheese.|
Dubbed as 'the grandfather of ramyeon', this was the very first product of Samyang Foods and was introduced to the market in 1963. Its first version tasted more like chicken soup, and was made to suit Japanese taste, which was light. Eventually, Samyang changed the seasoning to make it taste like beef and adjusted the flavor to Korean preference - deep, rich, and spicy.
This ramyeon has tolerable spice, as opposed to its 'Hot Beef' counterpart. The broth is rich and tasty, and the noodles are plump and flavorful. It also contains a nice assortment of vegetables, which re-hydrate nicely when cooked.
Fusion food has become so popular that even instant noodle manufacturers have followed suit. This Chapagetti from Nongshim is a fusion of spaghetti and the black bean paste called 'chajang' (or 'jjajang').
Originally from China, this black bean paste first started appearing in Korea’s port city of Incheon in the 19th century as the city’s Chinese immigrant population grew. The immigrants, mostly from China’s Shandong Province, brought along their traditional cuisine, and among these, Jjajangmyun became extremely popular in Korea. Through time, this dish has evolved to suit the taste of Koreans and has become part of the Korean food culture.
|Chapagetti, up close.|
|Samyang Hot Fried Chicken Ramyeon.|
Samyang Hot Fried Chicken Ramyeon.
A friend of mine asked me to bring home some of these for her after seeing videos of 'Samyang Challenge' on YouTube. I was curious as to what this fuss is all about. so I asked my husband to buy a pack so I can try it for myself. He was quite hesitant in buying this for me, as he knows I can't handle spicy food very well. He even asked me several times before preparing the noodles, making sure that I knew exactly what I was doing. Apparently, he has tried this brand before and has an idea of how nasty things could get.
|Samyang Hot Fried Chicken Ramyeon.|
I was sweating like crazy after a forkful, and had to down a glass of chocolate milk before taking another bite. On my second forkful I could feel the heat literally coming out of my head, and my eyes were starting to water. By the third forkful (because I did not want such good food to go to waste), the heat was all over my mouth and I could feel my throat burning. I gave up after that, and let my husband finish the rest of it. Haha!
|They also come in bowls. Brought home a few for my siblings to try.|
I don't think I'll eat this again (unless they come up with a milder version) but the experience was worth it. It's great to come out of your comfort zone and experience pain every once in awhile. Haha!