“Wanna have ramyun before you go? ramyun meokgo galae? 라면먹고갈래? = “Wanna Netflix and chill?”
In the movie, Bomnaleun Ganda 봄날은 간다 One Fine Spring Day (2001), Eun-su 은수 (Lee Young-ae) wants to invite Sang-woo 상우 (Yu Ji-tae) to spend the night at her place so she comes up with a euphemism – ramyun meokeullaeyo? “라면 먹을래요?” (Want to have some ramyun?) This becomes one of the most quoted phrases in pop culture, with the variation ramyun meokgo galae 라면먹고갈래? (Want to have some ramyun before you hit the road?) Korea’s “Wanna Netflix and chill?”
WHAT RAMYUN MEANS TO KOREANS AND HOW KOREANS TAKE IT
Enjoyed by presidents and beggars alike, ramyun 라면 (instant noodles in Korean) is a truly versatile food that can be had as a snack or as a meal. The best thing about these curly noodles that come in a shiny polypropylene packaging is simplicity: Just bring 2 1/2 cups of water to a boil, add the soup base powder (they also have it in liquid form these days), and dried vegetable mix. Let it boil for just about a minute or two and carefully drop in the noodles (purists don’t break it in halves!). Gently submerge them with a utensil, cover the lid, and let them waltz for 3 minutes tops unless you want them soggy. Oh, many people choose to add an egg for protein to what is otherwise a mostly-carbs meal. Voila! You just made yourself a bowl of perfectly cooked ramyun! As for eating it, many Koreans swear by kimchi as a perfect accompaniment. And believe it or not, they also love to add an extra bowl of rice when the noodles are all gone but have lots of soup left (low-carb dieters should jump to a different topic now).
HISTORY OF KOREAN INSTANT NOODLES – RAMYUN
Okay, here are some fun facts about Korean instant noodles you can read while enjoying your own.. The first instant cup noodles ever made in Korea was Samyang Cup Ramen (the first instant cup noodles was introduced by the Japanese company Nissin in 1971, which also developed the world’s first instant noodles in 1958). Back then, it didn’t receive a warm welcome because it was fairly expensive compared to the living standards of the Koreans, and wasn’t in line with traditional Korean table manners where everything has to stay on the table and not in mid-air. Despite the criticism, it steadily gained popularity as people started warming up to it, and it peaked when Nongshim 농심 came out with their Yukgaejang Sabalmyeon 육개장 사발면, which had the taste of traditional Korean hearty, spicy beef soup and a container similar to a traditional bowl. In 1988 during the Summer Olympics in Seoul, it received worldwide fame when NBC introduced it as Korea’s favorite fast food.
Now they have a wide variety of flavors – Nongshim Bowl Instant Noodle Sampler – 6 Flavors: Shin Bowl, Lobster, Spicy Shrimp, Spicy Kimchi, Spicy Chicken, Hot & Spicy (6 – Pack) [Amazon]
Today, Korean instant cup noodles are available all over the globe, including the least expected places like the summit of the Jungfrau and Golf Resorts in Brazil. It was also served by international airlines such as American Airline, Air France, and British Airways. Paldo’s Dosirac 도시락 has been one of the most sold cup noodles in Russia for quite some time.
Try for yourself why Russians are in love with Paldo Dosirac Oriental Style Noodle, Chicken Flavour, 3.04 oz (12 count) [Amazon]
So, how much ramyun do Korean people consume? According to a research by Instantnoodles.org, Korea consumed 74.6 servings per capita in 2018, which is the highest in the world, followed by Vietnam and Nepal with 53.9 and 53 servings.
Shin Ramyun is pretty much one of the most popular Korean ramyuns both in and out of Korea. They are known for their spiciness, but not to the point where your tongue hurts, but oddly satisfying. It’s pretty addicting.
Now, Samyang’s 2X Spicy Hot Chicken Flavor Ramen is all the rage in Korea. It’s also very hot, and there are many YouTube challenge videos just for that reason. But again, it’s well balanced with yummy chicken flavor, so if you want to taste ‘Korean spicy’, give it a shot. You can always choose to put only half the recommended amount of sauce.
If you aren’t a big fan of hot and spicy ramyun noodles and have very delicate taste buds, your best bet is Ottogi’s Jin Ramyun. Their mild flavor soup has a huge fan base in Korea. Easy on the palate and (stomach).