I always thought instant noodles were desperation rations for those days when I can’t be bothered to cook, or go to the supermarket, okay, when I can’t even be motivated to leave the house. And it’s certainly not something you brag about eating… even though Indomie mi goreng can be strangely addictive….
Then I chanced upon ramenrater.com, and found a whole instant noodle subculture. There are people who blog about these lowliest of foods. Seriously. Guess what, there are some really good instant noodles out there. And the part which truly blew me away was a good number of these impressive ramen came from Malaysia and Singapore. No. Freaking. Way.
How did I miss all this? After a study of the Top 10, BL and I decided to see if we could track a few of them down in Sydney, and found them in the various Vietnamese Supermarkets in Cabramatta where we were visiting for lunch (Prima Taste instant noodles are available at Tai Ping Supermakets, and MyKuali is available from e-pacs in Auckland). These were the three contenders which we picked for the challenge:
Prima Taste Chilli Crab La Mian, Singapore (AUD$2.45 -$2.80, NZ$4.15)
This rated #8 on ramenrater.com. The noodles are steamed air-dried, and boast authentic ‘crustacean’ flavourings and no msg or preservatives. To make this, the noodles are boiled for 6 minutes, then drained, and the seasonings (chilli oil and chilli crab sauce) are boiled in the packets for 3 minutes.
The gravy was not as thick as in the pictures, and we dressed it up with boiled fresh swimmer crab and tiger prawns. The noodles were excellent, chewy with a nice bite. The gravy tasted really flavoursome, sweet with the subtle chilli kick. Overall, this blew my expectations of an instant noodle to bits; it tasted fresh with good levels of seafood flavours. Though once you add in the accoutrements, this is no longer a cheap meal.
Prima Taste Laksa La Mian, Singapore (AUD$2.45 -$2.80, NZ$4.15)
This rated #2 on ramenrater.com. The noodles, as before, are a far superior to your typical instant noodles. These noodles alone could have passed for a freshly prepared version.
I wasn’t so impressed with the laksa soup; it was curry based and very heavy with coconut cream. The prawn taste was diluted by the other spices. I would suggest that you add in the coconut powder to taste, rather than use the entire packet.
MyKuali Penang White Curry Noodles, Malaysia (AUD$3.80 for 4, NZ$5.50 for 4)
This was the top rated instant noodles. The good bit: the soup is outstanding for instant noodles, full of prawn flavour (due to the belacan or fermented shrimp paste), a good balance of chilli and spices, and just the right touch of creamer. The not so good bit: the noodles are too salty and were soggier, as you would expect from fried noodles.
My choice (BL picked differently, but hey, this is my blog) in descending order is:
#3 Prima Taste Laksa La Mian
#2 MyKuali Penang White Curry Noodles
#1 Prima Taste Chilli Crab La Mian
The Prima Taste Laksa La Mian was too coconut-y and thick for my taste, MyKuali won over with its flavoursome broth, even though its noodles were very standard. The standout was definitely the Prima Taste Chilli Crab La Mian, – great flavours and excellent noodles. With the prices in NZ, I would stock up in Australia or when you are in Asia.