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

Late Night Ramen Review #1

One of my guilty-pleasures in life is late night ramen. "you should do a review on them.", my wife randomly suggested. What a great idea!

When the Shin Black came out a few years ago, I thought it was just a "hype" version of the regular Shin; packaging was nicer and indeed, it does offer more for your money, so instead of just 2 flavoring packs, the Black edition comes with 3. Cooking it is very straightforward. I will share some of my normal routine next to the photos.

A tablespoon of miso creates a deeper complex broth and helps the soup cling to the noodles

Shin Black has much richer broth compared with the regular Shin (which we all know and love), and hint of onion flavor as well. The noodle is classic Nongshin, thick, good quality. If you do it right, the texture is chewy and have some bite to it.

Gently drop and poach an egg before serving... the yolk is pure liquid gold

Is it worth the extra money? That's up to you to decide, for me however, I found myself preferring the richness of the broth, and every time I go back to eat a regular Shin ramen, the broth felt light in comparison.

A dash of green for color and a pop of fresh flavor is a great addition

Until next time. 📷:)



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