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Korean Ramen 101: An in-depth guide to Korean instant Ramyeon

Instant ramen is one of the most popular Korean foods. There are many different types and brands of instant ramen, and each has its own unique flavor. In this blog post, we will discuss the different types and brands of instant ramen, and explain how they differ from each other. We will also talk about the Fire Noodle (Buldak-bokkeum-myeon) challenge, a recent trend in Korea that involves eating spicy instant ramen. Whether you're a fan of instant ramen or not, this blog post is sure to interest you!

Hot Chicken Flavor Ramen on Fire flame

What is ramen and where did it come from?

Ramen is a type of noodle that was originally from China. It is called "Lamian" in Chinese. "la" means "to pull" in Chinese, and "mian" is a wheat dough-based food product that includes noodles. Lamian, therefore, is literally translated as hand-pulled noodles.

Various instant ramen brands around the world

It was brought to Japan in the early 20th century by Chinese people who studied in Japan and has since become one of the most popular dishes in Asia. Ramen noodles are made from wheat flour, water, and salt. They are usually served in a broth, with various toppings such as meats, vegetables, and eggs.

Ramen noodles became popular in Korea in the 1960s when instant ramen was first introduced to the country. Instant ramen is a type of ramen noodle that is precooked and then dried so that it can be stored for a long period without going bad. It is usually sold in a cup or bag, with the broth and toppings included. All you need to do is add hot water, and your instant ramen is ready to eat!


Ramyeon VS Ramen, which is the correct pronunciation in Korean?

Ramyeon or Ramyun is '라면' in Korean and Ramen is 'ラーメン' in Japanese.

Ramyeon is the correct pronunciation for ramen in Korea. However, in Korea, Ramen is frequently recorded as Ramen in English. That's because Japanese Ramen has become synonymous with ramen.

In Japan, ramen refers to Japanese ramen sold in restaurant rather than instant ramen. On the other hand, when you say "Ramyeon" in Korea, you're referring to instant ramen, and when you say "Ramen," you're referring to Japanese ramen.

In casual Korean restaurants, ramyun dishes are based on instant noodles. This menu is popular as a cheap and quick-to-prepare meal. Japanese ramen, on the other hand, can be found at Japanese ramen restaurant in Korea.


History of ramen in Korea

It was created in Korea as an instant food from the start, inspired by Japanese instant ramen.

On September 15, 1963, instant noodles were first launched with Samyang Ramen as the origin. Samyang Foods Chairman Jeon Joong-yun, who ran an insurance company in the late 1950s, encountered Japanese instant ramen while conducting business training in Japan. And he brought instant ramen because he thought it would fit the economic situation of Korea at that time.

However, it is said that the product released at the time was not very popular because the taste did not suit the taste of Koreans very well. The ramen released by Samyang at the time was Japanese-style chicken ramen that brought the recipe of Japan's Myojo company as it was. It was thought that the soup had a greasy flavor because it was made from chicken stock.

He couldn't give up there. Since then, Samyang Foods has set up a soup-related laboratory within the company to make products that suit the taste of Koreans. Meanwhile, he held a public tasting session on the street in Jongno, gathering topics, and even went to the Blue House to present ramen to the then president, Park Chung-hee. At that time, after eating the ramen for the first time, Park Jung-hee is said to have left the words, "We Koreans like spicy and salty taste, so I wish there was more red pepper powder in it."

However, before Nongshim Ansungtangmyun became a hit, there was a misconception that ramen should not be too spicy, thus red pepper powder was added just a little bit more.


In South Korea, there are many different types of ramen.

In Korea, instant ramen is divided into two categories: 'ramen with broth' and 'ramen without broth'.

Ramen with broth versus Ramen without broth

'Ramen with broth' can be divided into various types according to the type of broth and the characteristics of taste. There are many flavors, such as beef-based broth ramen, chicken-based broth ramen, seafood ramen, kimchi-flavored ramen, ham-flavored ramen, and more.

Ramen in beef-based spicy red broth is the mainstay of the market. At one time, ramen based on clear chicken broth became popular in South Korea. It should be noted that just because the soup is not red does not mean it is not spicy.


The ramen without broth can be divided into three major types.

The first is cold bibimmyeon(bibim-myun). Cold noodles may sound strange, but cold noodles are very common in Korea. In particular, there is a famous food called Naengmyeon. The spicy and sweet taste of the cold bibimmyeon ramen is distinctive.

Next up is Jjajang Ramen. Jjajangmyeon is a Korean-style Chinese dish based on Jjajangmyeon. The black bean sauce that Jjajang ramen has is rich, sweet, salty, and savory in flavor. The dark sauce might appear strange to newcomers, but it has no strong flavor and is especially popular among children.

Deliciously cooked Jjajang-flavor Ramen

The third is the stir-fried noodles category, which is represented by Buldak-bokkeum-myeon. The distinctive flavor of these ramen noodles is spicy. With their powerful spice, they were able to capture the flavor of young students. It's one of the most popular fast foods in convenience stores.


There are two types of instant ramen: cup noodles and bag noodles. The style and recipe of the cup noodles are distinct from those of the bag noodles. The shape and recipe of bag ramen may be eaten in a setting with cooking utensils, such as at home, whereas cup ramen can be consumed outside in three minutes if you have hot water.



How to make Korean ramen at home

Very easy. It's Instant ramen. Just cook ramen as the recipe on the bag. That's all.

Of course, many Koreans have their own ways of preparing ramen in Korea. On the other hand, there is also a fun quote: The recipe on the bag of ramen is regarded to be the best. That's because it was created by ramen experts who have studied ramen for decades.

Ramen in a pot being cooked

A few ideas for toppings that will take your ramen to the next level

Still, are you looking for a more special and delicious ramen recipe? Pay attention to the below toppings.

1. Green onion

The most basic and straightforward topping for any type of ramen broth. It may be placed in the middle of the cooking process or after it is finished.

2. Cheese (Especially sliced cheddar cheese)

One of the most popular additions. A slice of cheddar cheese to spicy ramen makes the flavor milder and adds to its appeal. Place a slice of cheese on top of the ramen after it's cooked.

3. Eggs

It's like cheese in that it softens the flavor of ramen. It's Korea's most basic topping, along with green onions. Many Korean restaurants add green onions and eggs by default when you order ramen at a restaurant.

4. Dumplings(Mandu)

Mandu Ramen, on the other hand, is a well-known dish in South Korean ramen restaurants. The pork broth from the dumplings combines with the ramen to improve it.

5. Ham

It's also a popular topping for ramen. Ramen with ham resembles Budae-jjigae, a famous Korean stew. In Korea, a Budaejjigae Ramen version of the original dish is available.

6. Kimchi

Kimchi, in Korea, cannot be overlooked. When the kimchi is used in ramen, you must carefully regulate the quantity of kimchi and water because of its salty flavor. At any supermarket or convenience store in Korea, you'll be able to discover a plethora of kimchi flavor ramen.


Korean eating habits about ramen

Do Koreans like ramen?

Koreans eat 4.13 billion ramyun each year, placing them eighth in the globe. And per capita consumption is 79.7, making it the world's highest. That equals to the same number as all of Koreans eating ramen once every 5 days. It's no surprise that instant ramen is popular in Korea, which has a 'Ppalli ppalli culture' of a fast-paced lifestyle.

As a result, Shin Ramyun from Nongshim made it to the top 5 in the world sales ranking in 2020, behind Nissin's Cup Noodles from Japan and Indomie Mee Goreng from Indonesia.


When do Koreans eat ramen

Koreans do not have a particular time to eat ramen. They have ramen for lunch, supper, and even breakfast. However, there are moments when Koreans have a hard time putting up with ramen. Korean people will begin preparing ramen if they see someone have it on a TV show 1-2 hours before going to bed after dinner.

Ramen is excellent when eaten outdoor. When Koreans go camping, ramen is always on the menu. Eating ramen along the Han River is a great experience and quite popular.

Eating ramen outdoor at Han River Seoul. 

What do Koreans eat with ramen?

The ideal combination for ramen is ramen with kimchi.

Koreans commonly consume kimchi with every meal, but it is a must-eat food, especially when it comes to ramen. It may be said that the marriage of ramen, which can be oily, and kimchi, which cleanses the mouth, is ideal.

In 'Dooly the Little Dinosaur,' one character sings a song about ramen and kimchi during an animation. This song's lyrics even claim that you can't have ramen without kimchi. It is no exaggeration to say that this song is known to almost all Koreans.


One of the world-famous ramen dishes

There is a Korean ramen dish that has become famous all over the world in recent years. This is Jjapaguri. The dish is ramen prepared by mixing two different types of instant ramen. It is a combination of Jjajang ramen called Jjapaghetti and ramen called Neoguri.

 The exact origin of this recipe is unknown, but there is an exact reason it became famous in Korea. In 2013, this recipe appeared on a TV show called 'Where are you going, Dad?' and became a topic of discussion nationwide, and many people followed this recipe, and became more famous.

And with the appearance of this dish in the movie 'Parasite', it once again became famous around the world. In particular, in this film, the scene of eating expensive beef with cheap ramen creates an ironic feeling.

A famous scene from a movie related to instant ramen

There is a scene in a Korean film that you must see when it comes to ramen. It's a scene from the movie Inside Men(Nae-bu-ja-deul in Korean). In the scene, Lee Byung-hun, the actor, became disabled in one hand and then ate ramen and had soju with only one hand. It is a scene where everyone admired his realistic acting In Korea, ramen is frequently eaten as a side dish with soju. Soju is the most common alcoholic beverage in Korea.


The top ramyeon brands that Koreans enjoy

There are many ramen brands in Korea, but here are the top 10 brands that Koreans love to eat. The following list is not in rank order.


Samyang Food's Buldak Fried Noodles

Launched in 2012, this ramen boasts a very strong spicy taste, and anyone confident in its spicy taste will want to try it. The Buldak-bokkeum-myeon challenge(a.k.a Fire noodle challenge) was popular among many YouTubers.

Samyang Food's Samyang Ramen

Launched in 1963, it is the first instant ramen in Korea. This is Samyang Food's traditional ramen based on chicken broth. It was once Korea's number one ramen.

Ottogi's Jin Ramen

Jin Ramyun is one of the best-selling instant noodles with a long tradition. It is the representative ramen of Ottogi, a food company.

Nongshim's Shin Ramyun

It is the representative ramen of Nongshim, a food company, and is the undisputed number one ramen in Korea. Shin Ramyun means spicy ramen in Korean. It is the most popular spicy taste among Koreans. It is also a very important indicator that is used as a standard when talking about spicy taste in Korea.

Nongshim's Neoguri

It is ramen with the udon flavor as a motif and features thicker noodles than normal ramen.

Nongshim's Ansungtangmyeon

There is a manufacturing factory in the city of Ansung, and it is said that the name Ansung-tang-myeon was named after the city. 

Nongshim's Chapagetti

It is a ramen product with the motif of Jjajangmyeon, a Chinese dish loved by Koreans. It is especially loved by children for its sweet and savory taste.

Paldo's Paldo Bibimmyeon

Launched in 1984, this is the most loved bibimmyeon so far. When it comes to bibim-myeon in Korea, it is representative of bibimmyun, so much that it refers to Paldo bibimmyeon.

Nongshim's Yukgaejang Cup ramyun

This is the most loved cup noodle in Korea.

Paldo's King Lid Cup ramen

It is a well-known cup ramyun brand in South Korea, alongside Nongshim Yukgaejang. It has a bigger bowl-shaped container than other cup noodles. It has a big lid to cover the container.


Ramen Playlist

If you want to listen to music about ramen in Korea, here is a playlist for you.

  1. 'Is It Ramen?' Song by AKMU
  2. 'Ramen and Gugongtan', OST of Dooly the Little Dinosaur


FAQs about Korean instant ramen

-What is the Fire Noodle challenge?

The Buldak Fried Noodles challenge is a popular YouTube challenge where people try to eat a very spicy instant ramen dish. The dish is made with a Korean instant ramen brand called Samyang Food's Buldak Fried Noodles. It is considered one of the spiciest instant ramen dishes in the world.

-Is instant ramen from Korea spicy?

Yes, some instant ramen from Korea can be quite spicy. The most popular brand of instant ramen, Shin Ramyun, is a Korean-style noodle soup that is known for its spicy taste.

-Is there any Korean brand of vegan ramen?

In recent years, as interest in vegan cuisine has blossomed in Korea, new vegan ramen varieties have debuted regularly.

-Do Koreans like instant ramen because it is spicy?

No, not all Koreans like instant ramen because it is spicy. There are many different types and flavors of instant ramen available in Korea, so there is something for everyone to enjoy. However, the most popular type of instant ramen in Korea is the Shin Ramyun, which is a spicy noodle soup.

-How long has instant ramen been around?

Instant ramen was invented in 1958 by Momofuku Ando, the founder of Nissin Foods. Ando is from Japan, but instant ramen quickly became popular in Korea and other Asian countries. Today, instant ramen is enjoyed all over the world.

-Can you buy Korean instant ramen in supermarkets?

Yes, Korean instant ramen is widely available and can be bought in most supermarkets in the U.S., Japan, and Europe. In Korea, instant ramen is often sold in convenience stores and online.

-Can you buy Korean instant ramen online?

Yes, Korean instant ramen is widely available and can be bought online. You could find them on the marketplaces like Amazon, Rakuten, and eBay.


Korean Ramyeon tonight?

Korean instant ramen is delicious and convenient food that can be enjoyed by people of all ages. It is quick and easy to make, and there are many different types and flavors to choose from. Whether you like your ramen spicy or not, there is Korean instant ramen for you. So why not try some today?

Eating instant ramen in Korea is not just about eating. It's also about culture and history of Korea. I hope you enjoyed this blog post.I hope this article helped introduce you to the world of Korean instant ramen and understand Korean culture.


Do you have any questions or comments? Please feel free to leave them below! And if you liked this article, please share it with your friends! Thanks for reading! :)

-Ramen lover out there! :D

Shin Chang-geun

I love Korea, I love people who love Korea. I want to talk to people who love Korea, share their passion for Korea, and give them the information they need.

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