Scotty’s Skillet: Best Ramen noodle flavors

Scott Powell

As endless hours spent in quarantine doing 2,000 piece jigsaw puzzles, having deep, philosophical talks with our pets and throwing bologna at the ceiling to time how long it will stick before falling back to the floor (my record so far is 14.255 seconds, 15.789 if you include the time it took before it actually hit the floor) slowly turns all of our minds to mush, the prospect of having to cook an actual meal for oneself has become increasingly daunting.

Fortunately, we here in the developed world are standing on the shoulders of millions of years of scientific discovery — a discovery which has allowed us to develop tiny little bricks of thin, tightly-woven strands of pale plastic that, when boiled for two minutes above medium-high heat, can be passed off as a quasi-sustainable meal.

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I’m talking about Ramen of course. These squares of dusty latex are a staple of the college diet, but with so many options to choose from, how do you know which flavor is the right one for you?

You don’t. That’s why we have newspapers to help us make informed decisions on these very difficult and layered choices we are confronted with in our day-to-day lives.

So if you’re looking to indulge in some nice Styrofoam spaghetti this week, here’s a complete breakdown of the best Ramen flavors!

These squares of dusty latex are a staple of the college diet, but with so many options to choose from, how do you know which flavor is the right one for you?”

Soy Sauce 

Coming in at number one we have an old standby. You may say that this is a bit basic to be ranked at the top of the list, that we should have put something more exotic at the top — like creamy chicken or roasted crane — but creamy chicken Ramen tastes like chicken and dumplings diluted with human piss and roasted crane doesn’t exist. Yet. Although it should exist. It would taste fantastic and amazing, and I keep sending Maruchan letters saying they should add the flavor to their lineup and they never respond.

Anyway, the soy sauce flavor has a richness to it that other options simply do not offer. It’s a very deep flavor, with a subtle tang and a nice, meaty finish. It’s also the saltiest of the bunch, boasting 1,600 milligrams of sodium per serving. Seeing as Ramen broth is essentially just liquid salt, this is the most crucial factor. So, despite its basic-ness, this one takes the cake for this list.

Chili Lime Shrimp

When I was a kid, I loved seafood. However, living in landlocked Colorado, where good seafood is a rare and precious commodity, I was only able to eat seafood on the rarest, most special occasions — that is to say, one of the four (yes, I counted four in my whole life) times that my family would go out to eat at Cinzetti’s in Northglenn — with its bottomless stewed mussels and constantly re-stocked pile of all-you-can-eat cocktail shrimp, it was essentially Mecca to my tubby 12-year-old self. However, apart from our rare visits to my holy land of all-you-can-eat Italian cuisine, the artificial, chemically-composed, shrimp-flavored Ramen noodles were the closest I ever got to eating actual seafood as a child.

As a result, I’ve always had a bit of a bias toward this style of the popular noodle soup. Even though, upon further reflection later in life, the shrimp flavored soup is by far the blandest of the available options — more so, I dare say, than plain chicken. However, you add chili and lime to anything and it automatically becomes exactly 772 times better — it’s true: soup, chips — hell, I’d eat a car muffler if it was smothered in hot sauce and garnished with lime. And seeing as shrimp is the only flavor available with these add-ons, it’s earned the number two spot on this list — despite the milquetoast nature of its base flavor.

Chili

If there’s no lime included in your flavor packet (or whatever hazardous, undoubtedly cancerous combination of chemicals the lab workers at Maruchan have devised to impersonate the flavor of lime), straight chili is also quite a tasty flavor enhancer on its own. Not that it necessarily enhances the flavor per se. Indeed, it would be more accurate to say that the chili flavoring, when coupled with the disintegrative punch of the salt, numbs your mouth entirely, thus destroying your taste buds’ ability to detect any actual flavors that may be included in the soup to begin with. It’s like a shot of procaine straight to your tongue. But this insensate effect needn’t be a deterrent — like life itself, when you simply embrace the numbness and let it drift through you, you find this lack of feeling can actually be quite pleasant.

Pork, Beef, Chicken and Shrimp

Okay, so we’ve reached the point in the article where I have run out of unique, specialty flavors to include on the rankings. Indeed, I only included two, seeing as the first spot was taken up by the traditional Asian-style noodles. And of those two, both of them were made with chili. But oh, well. The truth of the matter is that I’ve only ever eaten the traditional styles of Ramen noodles. Indeed, I didn’t even realize that so many exotic variations existed until I went on the Maruchan website and was greeted with a tsunami-sized display of each and every different kind of Ramen produced by the company: everything from tortilla soup to sriracha chicken to chicken mushroom. I had never realized there were so many different variations, but was eager to try them all.

Unfortunately, however, when I went to the grocery store, there was no sriracha chicken Ramen in sight. So I had to settle for what was available. And what was available was what was on this list — including chicken, shrimp, pork and beef. Upon tasting all four, I came to a shocking and earth-shattering realization — that the standard Ramen noodle flavors all taste exactly the same. It’s true. There is no variation between any of them. At least from a flavor standpoint. And so I couldn’t figure out how to rank them for the remainder of the list and instead just clumped them together in last place. However, Ramen is Ramen after all — even if it is all the same. So despite the classic flavor’s lack of distinction, they still make for a tasty, comforting and easy-to-cook lunch on a quarantined day.

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Scotty Powell can be reached at entertainment@collegian.com or on Twitter @scottysseus.