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Japan’s Best Instant Noodles: Top Picks

Instant noodles have been a staple of many different cultures for a long time. They are quite cheap, making them a favorite for college students, or those who generally don’t have much money. They are simple to make, all you need to do is boil them in water for a few minutes, drain, and mix in the flavoring. You can do a lot with them too, from eating them raw to adding different foods into the noodles.

Today, we’ll be looking at the best brands from Japan. Which instant noodles will give you the most instant satisfaction? Let’s find out, shall we?

History of Instant Noodles

The hectic lives of people in the 1950s meant that more wanted to have a product with a long shelf life, and that were also quick and easy to make. Noodles, a specialty in Japan, were preserved by freezing, but, in 1958, Nissin developed Chikin Ramen. They dried out the noodles by flash frying them, which involved frying them briefly at a high temperature.

Originally, instant noodles were a luxury item. However, they became quite popular, and soon became an affordable way for people to make a quick and easy meal. Japan loves instant noodles so much that many of them believe that the instant noodle was the best Japanese invention of the 20th century.



Let’s start with a brand of ramen that is quite well-known in the USA. Maruchan is found in many stores internationally, always for a low price. They come in various flavors, such as chicken, pork, beef, oriental, and more. If you’re into ramen at all, then odds are, you’ve had Maruchan.

Maruchan is a combination of two Japanese words: maru and chan. Maru means ’round’ in the shape definition. A round shape is typically a symbol of friendliness and warmth. When the Japanese think of round, they think of a bouncing ball, or a happy face. Chan is an honorific suffix. In Japan, these suffixes are added to many names. Chan means affection or endearment, the former being directed towards children.

Maruchan was founded in 1972 by Toyo Suisan Kaisha. in an attempt to appeal to the international market. At first, Maruchan ramen was shipped from Japan, but they soon built bases in North America, too.

You really can’t go wrong with Maruchan. Their classic flavors make them a staple for every college kid.



Nissin is another company that makes instant noodles, and is probably best known for their Cup Noodles brand, which is popular internationally as well. The name Nissin is said to be a shortened word of a phrase which translates to, “Every day creates a rich flavor purely.”

Nissin celebrates their 70th anniversary on September 4, 2018, but it wasn’t until ten years after its founding when they created Chikin Ramen, the original instant noodle product. In 1970, they created their own manufacturer in the US.

The Cup Noodles brand was created for the US, because the US did not have the bowls normally used for most instant ramen packaging. Instead, they put the noodles in a foam cup. Originally, Cup Noodles was known as Cup O’ Noodles, but the O’ was dropped in 1993.

The convenience of the Cup Noodles brand makes it one of the top instant noodle providers for a reason. Besides being unique, they pack strong flavor into a single cup.

Sapporo Ichiban

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This is another instant noodle company that has seen great success outside of Japan. Like the other two companies, they develop mostly instant noodle products with different flavors and varieties.

It was founded in 1966, and the name of the company is quite easy to figure out. Sapporo is a city in Japan, and ichiban means “number one.” The phrase “number one,” as you know, means that something is top of the line. Despite this, the connection between the company and Saporro is unknown, as they only have one sales branch in that city.

They are another great noodle brand, and worth a try.




Ippudo ramen makes the cut because of its uniqueness. See, Ippudo not only provides instant ramen, but they are a popular ramen restaurant chain in Japan. They have also expanded internationally. There are some restaurants in Paris, London, Hong Kong, and other major global cities. In the US, the only places to find an Ippudo restaurant are in New York City and Berkeley, California.

The company opened their first restaurant in the mid 1980s, and the name of their company means “one wind hall.” What does that mean? It’s because the creator wanted to revolutionize the ramen industry by symbolically blowing a gust of wind.

While their brand of instant noodles isn’t a substitute for going to a restaurant, it comes pretty close, packing in mighty flavor. However, they aren’t usually sold in mainstream stores in the US. You can import, but it’s costly, and defeats the purpose of instant noodles. But, if you find a world market that sells them, or are in Japan, they are definitely worth picking up.

Are They Healthy?

Perhaps the biggest controversy about instant noodles is the fact that they are considered unhealthy. Because they are flash fried, instant noodles tend to have a high fat content. They contain high amounts of sodium, and they do lack in nutritional value. While they are low in calories, the calories you get from them are quite empty.

Like anything, if you eat instant noodles occasionally, they won’t hurt you. However, if you are eating them for every meal, then it becomes a bit of a problem. But, if you have to eat ramen, there are ways to make it more filling, including:

• Adding a protein source to the ramen. Adding meat, eggs, or tofu can not only enhance the taste, but provide some valuable protein. Eggs and frozen meats are an affordable option, and you can prepare them overnight.
• Adding some veggies to the ramen. Frozen vegetables are usually affordable, and you can boil them along with the ramen to make them easy and quick to cook.
• The flavor packets can add a lot of unneeded sodium. Use less of the flavoring, or substitute with something else, such as flavoring the broth with chicken, or using a low-sodium broth.

Instant noodles are delicious, cheap, and easy, but, if possible, eat a balanced variety of foods and save the noodles for special occasions.

And those are the top instant noodle brands money can buy. Instant noodles are popular across the country for a reason. They aren’t the healthiest option, but they sure are tasty. Try out all the flavors and brands, and see which one you like best.