5 Best Instant Udon Noodle Soups for Beginners
Udon is a traditional Japanese noodle made from wheat flour, which has a far longer history than ramen.
However, since there are tons of variations in ramen compared to udon, the number of instant ramens that grocery stores in Japan carry is usually much larger than that of instant udon.
In fact, I consume more instant cup ramen than instant udon in one year.
The 5 Best Instant Udon Bowls for Beginners
Nonetheless, several instant udon noodles have been widely enjoyed by us Japanese over the ages.
And today, I will introduce such beloved instant udon bowls that I think are the best for instant udon beginners.
Maruchan Akai Kitsune
First off, “Maruchan Akai Kitsune (マルちゃん 赤いきつね)” is the instant udon bowl with the top share in Japan, introduced by “Toyo Suisan (東洋水産)” in 1978.
“Kitsune (きつね)” is a quintessential udon dish whose main topping is deep-fried tofu called “Aburaage (油揚げ)”.
And this instant udon bowl is characterized by a big and juicy Aburaage that soaks up the flavor from the broth very well.
The soup is light soy sauce-based but packed with umami.
Nissin Donbei Kitsune Udon
“Nissin Donbei Kitsune Udon (日清 どん兵衛 きつねうどん)” is the 2nd best-selling instant udon bowl, after Maruchan Akai Kitsune, put on the market by Nissin in 1976.
As its name indicates, this one is also a Kitsune Udon consisting of thick, chewy wheat noodles, soy sauce-based dashi-rich broth, and Aburaage.
But the broth and deep-fried tofu in this Kitsune Udon is somewhat sweet compared to Maruchan Akai Kitsune.
Nissin Donbei Niku Udon
“Nissin Donbei Niku Udon (日清 どん兵衛 肉うどん)” is one of the best-selling instant udon bowls in Japan as well as being the most popular instant “Niku Udon (肉うどん)”.
As “Niku (肉)” means “meat” in Japanese, the main garnish of this instant udon is bits of seasoned beef, together with wakame (seaweed) and chopped green onions.
As with Donbei Kitsune Udon, the broth is sweetish. But it is loaded with umami from Katsuobushi bonito flakes and beef.
Nissin Donbei Curry Udon (West Japan Version)
Nissin Donbei Curry Udon is one of the most popular Curry Udon instant noodles that comes in 2 versions; East Japan and West Japan.
While the former broth has a rich soy sauce flavor, the latter is light-tasting and emphasizes the soup stock.
Therefore, this one features its dashi-rich curry soup.
Maruchan Shiroi Chikara Mochi Udon
Maruchan Shiroi Chikara Udon is the best and most loved instant Chikara Udon in Japan.
With this bowl, you can enjoy the representative types of Japanese comfort food, Udon, and Mochi, at the same time.
The “Shichimi Togarashi (七味唐辛子)” spice blend that comes with this bowl adds a spicy touch, making the overall taste more flavorful.