First, let me just say that the packaging for this spicy noodle soup is awesome! So much so that I made the soup in another bowl just to keep this container! I've often thought about getting a tattoo and was leaning toward the Samyang fire-breathing chicken, but this little devil may have just made the list too! Anyways, how are the noodles inside? Well, let's open the package and find out...

Wow! They certainly packed a lot into this tiny container! Let's see... we have the dried sweet potato vermicelli noodles, spice powder bag, broad bean sauce bag (with garlic, ginger and shallots), black vinegar, bean skin, vegetables and spicy peanuts... that's 7 items plus a fork! Now it's time to assemble...

That was easy... put everything together in the bowl, cover with boiling water and wait for 4 minutes. Some might ask why do they pack everything separately if you're just going to mix it all together? I think it helps each ingredient retain it's own flavor, and makes each bite just a bit different... which is definitely true with this noodle bowl!

Look at how that spicy soup is clinging to those noodles! I've had many other instant glass noodle bowls and I think this is one of the better ones. The mix of heat, sweet and sour is perfect. Even though the soup looks terrifyingly red, it's not terribly spicy. It's more of a tingly Sichuan peppercorn type of heat. I also think it has the perfect amount of black vinegar. I've had some bowls that were reminiscent of sucking on a lemon... but these Shi Zu Ren Energy noodles have found the right balance. Also, the texture of the noodles were spot on and really absorbed the flavor of the soup they were bathing in.

If you're used to eating flour-based noodles and haven't tried the clear kind yet, I'd definitely recommend this one. As with other glass noodles, they're lower in calories and saturated fat... but could be higher in sodium as a result.

-David Lynn

Look at that picture! Thick chewy yellow noodles slathered in a rich dark brown sauce made with fermented black bean paste, pork belly, zucchini, radish and potatoes. It's a savory, hearty noodle dish that's become a comfort food staple in our house. Originally a Chinese dish made with black bean paste, the Korean version evolved into a quick and easy plate often served in celebration when your child brings home good grades. Could an instant version of this slurping sensation taste as good as your childhood favorite... the short answer is yes! But which is best?

I picked up 3 instant versions... Samyang, Nongshim and Paldo.

The Samyang black bean noodles come with 2 seasoning packets; one containing dried vegetables and the other was the liquid sauce. As with other Hot Chicken Flavor Ramen in their line, these noodles were spicy! Not too hot to eat, as the sauce was slightly sweet, but I feel the heat takes away some of the comfort I wanted. Also, part of the fun of eating jjajangmyeon is crunching into the little cubes of pork belly and veggies. Here the dried ingredients didn't add much to the flavor or texture... and could be omitted altogether. They were good and definitely one of my favorite instants from Samyang, but it didn't satisfy my craving.

The next bowl I made were the Nongshim Chapagetti noodles. To cook... you simply add all of the packaged ingredients together (water, soup base powder, dried vegetables, vegetable oil) with the noodles in a saucepan and boil for a few minutes. After cooking, the dried vegetables are there but not really contributing to the texture of the dish. However, I really liked the flavor... it was deeper and a little more complex than the Samyang version (once again, probably due to the spiciness overtaking the dish).

Lastly, it was time for the Paldo variety. Winner winner, black beans for dinner! These noodles were the easiest to make. Open the provided bowl and remove the one sauce packet. Add boiling water, pour out after a few minutes and pour the sauce over. I enjoyed this bowl the best. The sauce was very rich and fermented (sounds scary, but it's good, trust me) with little bits of chewy vegetables scattered throughout. When you need a quick bowl of Korean black bean noodles with a dense sauce that sticks to the noodles and your ribs, this one hits the spot!

Enjoy this culinary fusion of two cultures!

-David Lynn

Updated: Aug 6, 2018

It's a fever sweeping the internet by storm... a firestorm to be exact!

A quick search on YouTube for Korean Fire Noodle Challenge will bring up hundreds of eager eaters challenging themselves or unsuspecting friends to grab a pair of chopsticks and slurp up a bowl of pure evil!

First released in 2012 by South Korean instant noodle maker Samyang Food, the original Hot Chicken Flavor Ramen was created after a year of research including devouring hundreds of spicy chicken dishes and tons of hot sauce. The result is nothing short of spectacular! The noodles have a good bite and texture... thick enough to absorb the Heavenly (some would say Hellish) sauce.

Let's talk about that sauce. It's pure bliss! First thing you'll notice is how deep red color. Next you'll notice the sweet, peppery, smoky smell... breath it in! Okay. But how does it taste? Could I handle the heat? These noodles taste great! The fire sauce is surprisingly sweet, which helps tamp down the heat, and extremely thick and rich. You can tell that the sauce was carefully put together and has many layers of flavors to excite your tastebuds. But honestly, I'm a hot sauce fanatic and could tolerate the heat. So for me, it's mostly about flavor and in that regard... Samyang's Hot Chicken Flavor Ramen is a sure "fire" winner! For more fun... add a slice of cheddar cheese and fried egg on top.

Following the incredible success of it's original fire noodles, Samyang has released numerous variations and limited editions; Cheese (includes a packet of cheese powder), Ice (chilled Summer edition), Stew, Curry, Mala (infused with Szechuan peppercorns), Carbonara (creamy Italian limited edition in celebration of 1 billion in sales) and spicy black bean (one of my favorites). All of these flavors have about the same level of heat (or pain depending on tolerance), but the 大哥哥 (big brother) on the block is the 2X! WHEW! This ramen packs the heat!

-David Lynn


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