Nowadays, we are seeing an explosion of ramen bars and restaurants all over the world. These places cater specifically to the growing demand for this delicious noodle soup.
The growing obsession with this dish is palpable. Your ramen cravings can hit you at any time of the day. In all likelihood, you will want to start making it yourself. After all, every home chef should dip their toes into this pond sooner or later.
That is why we have compiled this list of the best noodles for ramen. We did our research and scoured the market for the best noodles you can use. This way, you won’t be left hanging once the ramen cravings hit you.
So what are the best noodles for ramen? Choosing the best noodles for ramen is up to personal preference, but the most common ramen noodles are soba, somen, and udon noodles. Noodles can’t be called “ramen” unless they contain alkaline water, also known as “kansui.” The water ratio affects the texture of the noodle, from thin and crunchy to thick and chewy.
Keep reading to learn more about what ramen is, what ramen noodles are, and to see a list of our 7 favorite ramen noodles. Happy ramen slurping!
What Is Ramen?
While ramen has become synonymous with Japanese cuisine, it is interesting to note that the dish was adapted from the Chinese wheat noodle.
Cheap and filling, it is one of those rare examples of food that everyone can enjoy.
Basically, ramen is a noodle dish with soup. Its primary components are wheat noodles, toppings, and broth.
Types of Ramen
The different kinds of ramen stem from playing around with these elements. Here are some of the most common types of ramen:
- Shio – Ramen made with a salted broth
- Shoyu – Ramen made with a soy-sauce broth
- Miso – Ramen made with a miso broth
- Tonkotsu – Ramen nade with pork broth
- Tsukemen – Ramen that is dipped in broth
- Hiyashi Chuka – Cold ramen
Of course, if there is one constant in the ever-evolving world of ramen, then it simply has to be the noodles themselves.
It is crucial that we take a closer look at what makes ramen noodles so great.
What Are Ramen Noodles?
Ramen noodles are made from a combination of wheat flour, salt, and alkaline water.
Interestingly, the wheat flour used for ramen contains high levels of protein. It usually falls somewhere between 10-13%, depending on the manufacturer.
However, if there is one thing that sets ramen noodles apart from other noodle recipes, then it has to be its use of kansui. Also commonly known as alkaline water or lye water, kansui is a combination of potassium carbonate and sodium carbonate.
It serves as the primary ingredient when making the dough for the ramen noodles. Without kansui, the noodles can never be called ramen. This is because the use of kansui creates specific effects on the noodles themselves.
To be more precise, kansui affects the texture, appearance, and taste of the ramen noodle. For instance, the alkaline salts used in kansui bring a unique flavor to the table.
The alkalinity also reacts with the wheat in the noodles in a special way. If you have ever eaten ramen, then you know that distinctive taste we are referring to.
In addition to this, the alkalinity that kansui lends helps give the noodles that distinctively slippery characteristic that is altogether unique to ramen noodles.
At the same time, the alkalinity also affects the noodles’ appearance. The kansui is responsible for making the noodles appear glossy, while also giving it a vivid yellow color.
Different Types of Ramen Noodles
As previously stated, the ramen dish comes in a wide array of variations. Everything from the soup base to the toppings can affect how the dish itself is prepared and consumed.
Interestingly, the noodles themselves also fall into distinct subcategories. The noodles for ramen come in all shapes and lengths. Some are thick while some are delicately thin. Some are wavy while others are straight.
However, if there is one type of categorization that we need to pay close attention to, then it simply has to be in terms of how it was made.
The different ramen noodle categories presented below are defined by the amount of water used during the kneading process. The consistency and texture of the dough, and by extension, the noodle, will be affected by this.
Listed below are the three ramen noodle categories:
- Low water ratio ramen noodles – These ramen noodles have 25-31% of liquid to the weight of flour. In terms of texture, they are noticeably tougher and harder. This is despite being the thinnest of all the ramen noodles.
- Medium water ratio ramen noodles – These ramen noodles, containing 32% – 39% liquid, give you texture and consistency that falls somewhere in the middle. They also remain relatively soft.
- High water ratio ramen noodles – These ramen noodles are the softest of the bunch. They have no less than 40% liquid content. The consistency and texture is similar to eating udon noodles.
Needless to say, playing around with the water-flour ratio of the ramen noodle recipe will affect the way the noodles will come out. The most noticeable impact will be on the noodles’ texture, softness, and size.
For instance, notice how high water ratio ramen noodles are softer than their low water counterparts.
Conversely, low water ratio noodles are tougher and give off that distinctive crisp that many ramen enthusiasts simply can’t get enough of.
The Best Noodles for Ramen
Now that we have covered the different kinds of ramen noodles, the next question that arises is: “How do I find the best noodles for myself?”
Like many culinary endeavors, choosing the best ramen all comes down to your personal preferences.
That is why it is crucial that you explore all the options available to you. For instance, you can opt to go with the fresh noodle option, which means procuring your noodles straight from the producers themselves.
However, if this isn’t an option, then you should also know that there is no shortage of great ramen noodle brands that can be bought online. This is certainly the next best thing.
Before we get into the specifics, here is a compact table of our favorites:
|1.||Hakubaku Organic Japanese Noodles||3 types of noodles, best value|
|2.||Sukina, Buckwheat (Soba) Noodles||Rich texture, distinct flavor|
|3.||Lotus Foods Millet & Brown Rice Ramen||Low sodium, gluten free, no MSG|
|4.||Hana Buck Wheat Noodles||Authentic recipe, great for classic ramen|
|5.||King Soba Organic Buckwheat Ramen Noodles||Goes well with all types of ramen|
|6.||Hime Japanese Ramen Noodles||Thick and chewy, authentic recipe|
|7.||Maruchan Soy-Sauce Flavor Ramen Noodles||Easy and quick to prepare, affordable|
1. Hakubaku Organic Japanese Noodles
This noodle pack gives you the best value for your money, as it gives you 3 sets of noodles in one package.
Namely, it contains the Hakubaku Organic Soba, Hakubaku Organic Somen, and the Hakubaku Organic Udon.
Needless to say, we love this noodle pack because of the sheer diversity it offers. As stated above, you are given soba, somen, and udon noodles.
By giving you different types of noodles, you are essentially given the perfect opportunity to explore your options and figure out your preferences.
As you may have surmised by now, these are different kinds of ramen noodles that are prepared in specific ways.
This means that by getting this noodle pack, you are also challenging yourself to explore the different ways ramen can be prepared.
That said, if you are new to the world of ramen, then this noodle pack would serve as the perfect introductory course. Feel free to get these noodles if you are feeling bold and adventurous.
2. Sukina, Buckwheat (Soba) Noodles
If you are looking for an authentic and delicious ramen experience in the comfort of your own home, then you will simply love these noodles from Sukina.
Luxurious and silky, they have a rich texture that makes them ideal for any ramen dish.
They not only give your broth a distinctly delicious flavor, but they are also incredibly easy to use.
You’d be hard-pressed to find buckwheat noodles that can match these. We highly recommend that you give these noodles a try when you get the chance.
3. Lotus Foods Millet & Brown Rice Ramen
Next, we have something off the beaten path.
These noodles are perfect for ramen lovers looking to diversify their understanding of what makes for great ramen.
As you may have undoubtedly noticed, this particular ramen doesn’t make use of wheat to make its noodles. Instead, it uses heirloom, organic, whole grain rice. The result is a noodle with lower sodium levels and free of any gluten or MSG.
Of course, none of that would matter if the noodles didn’t taste good. Luckily, this is far from the case.
The use of millet and brown rice gives it a deliciously nutty taste without losing the characteristics of what makes a great ramen noodle.
Moreover, brown rice is also very nutritious, as it is a great source of protein and fiber.
Granted, this may seem like a strange choice, especially for ramen purists. However, we need to remember that ramen itself is a highly dynamic and ever-changing dish.
These noodles from Lotus serve as the perfect example of ramen’s adaptability and versatility.
4. Hana Buck Wheat Noodles
This is the perfect noodle if you are craving some classic ramen recipes.
Making use of a special recipe, Hana has truly outdone themselves with these noodles.
The recipe for the noodles themselves harkens back to the classic Japanese methods.
Hana made full use of ingredients like yam flour, wheat flour, and buckwheat flour, as well as some salt and water.
The end result is something that can only be described as spectacular. These noodles have a distinct and authentic taste – they are ramen noodles the way they should be made.
5. King Soba Organic Buckwheat Ramen Noodles
Next, we have the King Soba Organic Buckwheat Ramen. This noodle is perfect if you are looking for something delicious, straightforward, and easy to prepare.
There are no frills when it comes to King Soba Organic Buckwheat Ramen. It is incredibly easy to prepare and quick to cook.
By banking on its minimalism, King Soba has given us a highly flexible ramen ingredient.
As any home chef would tell you, simplicity lends itself to versatility. We love these noodles because they don’t go out of their way to overwhelm your taste buds.
Instead, they give you the perfect opportunity to learn the craft of making your own ramen.
Feel free to experiment with the different ingredients available to you such as vegetables, miso, tofu, and different meats. All of them pair perfectly with these noodles.
This noodle pack gives you three individual packets. Each one is enough to make a large bowl of hearty ramen right in the comfort of your own home.
These King Soba ramen noodles are definitely worth it and we highly recommend that you give it a try yourself.
6. Hime Japanese Ramen Noodles
This is another noodle we love for the authenticity it brings to the table.
Its thick and chewy texture will surely bring to mind the best ramen experiences you can think of.
If you are looking for something good and simple, then these Ramen noodles from Hime will be perfect for you.
7. Maruchan Soy-Sauce Flavor Ramen Noodles
If you’re not in the mood for procuring all the extra ingredients for ramen and instead are in the market for instant noodles including seasoning and all, then look no further.
These ramen noodles from Maruchan perfectly embody the epitome of ease.
As you are probably aware, ramen has firmly established itself as a staple snack for most college kids. This is because, aside from being incredibly affordable, it efficiently satisfies the sudden cravings that often arise during those late-night study sessions.
Preparing these noodles can take as little as 3 minutes. Needless to say, with their hectic schedule, it isn’t very hard to picture why they have become so popular among students.
That said, it often comes as a surprise to most that the Maruchan traces its roots to a long tradition dating back to Japan. This explains why we simply love these noodles. The amount of care and dedication that went into preparing these noodles is simply undeniable.
If you are the type of person who is always in a hurry and isn’t ready to try the homemade route, then the Maruchan Ramen Noodles are perfect for you.
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