The best and the rest: Hong Kong instant noodles taste test

We put the kettle on in a search for the ultimate in convenience store cup noodles, from a (totally unscientific) sample of 10 brands from across East Asia. See if you agree with our ratings

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 27 October, 2016, 6:30am
UPDATED : Thursday, 27 October, 2016, 5:30pm

Yes, we all know that instant noodles are bad for us – they contain excessive amounts of sodium and fat, are difficult to digest, and have little – if any – nutritional value. And I, as a food editor, should be (so I’m told) disdainful of them.

But I – like so many others out there – eat them because they’re convenient, fast, and, if you choose correctly, they can even be delicious.

Our goal was to find the best cup noodles out there, choosing from those sold in convenience shops in MTR stations. We soon realised that goal was far too ambitious because there are just too many available; in one day of shopping at 7-Eleven and 759 franchises in just two MTR stations (Pok Fu Lam and Tai Po), we had 30 cup noodles. We narrowed it down to 10, choosing from different price ranges (HK$6.90 per pack up to HK$19.90), flavours and origin (Hong Kong, Taiwan, China, Japan, Singapore, Malaysia, Korea).

Health-conscious Hongkongers eating instant noodles less often, like rest of world

Six colleagues gathered one afternoon for a casual, totally unscientific tasting. But before we reveal the results, a few words of observation.

First, price often does matter. The more expensive instant noodles tend to be better (although of course there are exceptions).

Second, read the label very carefully. Most of us assume that one packet of noodles is a single serving, but the brands often list the amount of sodium (as well as fat and other nutritional information) per 100 grams. Some packets contain less than 100 grams, but others have a lot more, and if you eat the whole thing by yourself, you might be doubling the amount of sodium you think you’re getting.

Third (and this is obvious), you shouldn’t eat instant noodles too frequently, and the rest of your meals should be much more nutritious. So, in reverse order, here are the top noodles:

10. Bon Bo Jan Hanil Korean noodle with clam soup

200 grams per pack, 883mg sodium per 100 grams. Made in Korea. HK$14.90 from 7-Eleven.

“The noodles are weird and have a chemical taste.”

“This has a weird flavour.”

“The texture is nice but the taste is awful.”

“Don’t like the soup – it’s awful.”

“The vegetables are okay, they don’t taste like instant noodle vegetables.”

Six thumbs down

9. Doll Gudetama dim sum noodle (chicken flavour)

35 grams per pack, 791mg of sodium per serving. Made in China. HK$6.90 from 7-Eleven

“It’s delicious, I ate it all.”

“Good texture of noodles, I like that they’re thin.”

“Tastes like typical instant noodles”

“Vegetables are too soft.”

“Noodles are too soft.”

“The soup tastes funny.”

“Not much flavour.”

One thumbs up, five thumbs down

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8. TableMark Miso Ramen

106 grams per pack, 2,200mg of sodium per serving. Made in Japan. HK$13.50 from 759

“I don’t like this much; it has an unpleasant taste.”

“Nice, chewy noodles and crunchy corn.”

“I don’t like the soup base.”

“This tastes just of salt, with no other flavour.”

Two neutral, four thumbs down

7. Sanwa instant noodles (curry flavour)

70 grams, 1,470mg of sodium per serving. Made in Singapore. HK$6.20 from 759

“The taste is chemical, it’s awful.”

“I like it!”

“The curry tastes artificial.”

“Yuck! I need to rinse my mouth!”

One thumbs up, one neutral, four thumbs down

6. AceCook AC Super 1.5x curry noodles

115 grams per pack, 2,347.8mg of sodium per 100 grams. Made in Japan. HK$16.90 from 7-Eleven

“The soup is too salty.” (Mentioned by three of the tasters.)

“The texture of the noodles is chewy.”

“Don’t like this one much.”

Five neutral, one thumbs down

5. Nissin seafood flavour instant noodles

75 grams, 1,478mg of sodium per serving. Made in China. HK$8.90 from 7-Eleven

“I like the soup base. ”

“The noodles are too soft.”

“I prefer the spicy version [of this brand].”

“I’m thirsty after eating this, it must have a lot of MSG.”

One thumbs up, five neutral

Hong Kong instant noodles make world’s top 10 cup noodle list

(At this point, one of the tasters dropped out)

4. Uni-President chilli pork flavour instant noodles

193 grams, 1,060mg sodium per 100 grams. Made in Taiwan. HK$16.90 from 7-Eleven

“Very nice.”

“Tastes authentic but there’s too little meat.”

“The soup is okay but not special; it has a common instant noodle taste.”

“There’s something wrong with the meat – it has a chemical taste.”

“It’s nice that this has real meat.”

Four thumbs up, one thumbs down

Tied for second. Nissin citrus soy sauce flavour noodles

86 grams, 2,674.4mg sodium per 100 grams. Made in Japan. HK$16.90 from 7-Eleven

“Oh, this looks gross.”

“The soup has a nice consistency and a complex taste.”

“This is good, I want to buy it.”

“The citrus flavour is nice.”

Four thumbs up, one neutral

Tied for second. Myojo Mango Tree Tokyo tom yum goong noodles

97 grams, 2,680.4mg of sodium per 100 grams. Made in Japan. HK$19.90 from 7-Eleven

“Oh, I like this one!”

“Good aroma, good texture.”

“I like the soup, it has a lot of flavour.”

“It’s a bit too sour, but I like it.”

Four thumbs up, one neutral

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1. My Kuali Penang white curry rice vermicelli soup

115 grams, 2,400mg of sodium per serving. Made in Malaysia. HK$14.90 from 7-Eleven

“Oh, this soup is fantastic – it’s the best soup of all.”

“I’m not fond of the noodles but I can drink the soup forever.”

“The noodles are a bit coarse but the soup is good.”

“It needs something other than just soup and noodles, but I like it.”

“Does anyone want more? If not, I’ll finish the bowl.”

Five thumbs up