Six ways to transform sad instant noodles into restaurant-quality ramen
Clement Leung, better known to his 3.2 million TikTok followers as “Ramen Guy,” is the go-to source for instant-noodle hacks. Last May, the 38-year-old quit his software-developer job to make carb-focused content full-time under the handle @insta.noodls. Since launching his channel in 2021, Leung has tried just about every viral ramen hack there is. Without prejudice, he eagerly attempts add-ins, even seemingly off-putting ones (ice cream, Nutella, powdered gravy), all in a quest to elevate the student staple. We asked him to level-up six different kinds of instant ramen using standard pantry staples, taking them from depressing desk lunches to affordable, filling feasts.
1. Samyang Hot Chicken Ramen Carbonara Flavour + sour cream + shredded cheese: To dial up the indulgence on this pasta-inspired packet, Leung doubles down on the dairy by adding a tablespoon of sour cream and a fistful of shredded cheese (a mix of mozzarella and cheddar). The result is ultra creamy, but it’s the tang from the sour cream that Leung loves most about this combo.
2. Nissin Demae Ramen With Sesame Oil + butter + caramelized onions + shredded cheese: Leung grew up eating this ramen, so it’s pure nostalgia for him—but he has no qualms about zhuzhing it up with atypical accoutrements. This slightly more involved hack is inspired by French onion soup. He starts by caramelizing onions in a whole bunch of butter, then he adds the broth and noodles and tops the concoction with shredded cheese.
3. Indomie Mi Goreng + chopped garlic + hot oil + Sprite: Indomie is technically a stir-fried Indonesian noodle (as @insta.noodls followers are often quick to point out), but Leung says it’s similar to ramen and tastes great. To elevate this package, he adds the seasoning and some chopped fresh garlic. Then he pours a hot neutral oil overtop before adding a good glug of Sprite. “The soda’s sugar and citrus work surprisingly well to enhance and balance all the other flavours,” Leung says.
4. Nongshim Shin Ramyun + canned mushroom soup + egg: Shin Ramyun is one of Leung’s favourite brands, and he’s tried dozens of Shin permutations. This is the combo he likes best: “You cut the water in half, stir in the mushroom soup and seasoning packet, and then mix in an egg until it becomes super rich and creamy.”
5. Ichiran Hakata-Style Ramen + jammy egg + green onions + pork chashu: Ichiran, a Japanese ramen restaurant chain specializing in tonkotsu, makes Leung’s favourite fancy—and, at almost $10 a packet, slightly pricey—instant ramen. But he thinks it’s worth the splurge: “The noodles are high quality, and the broth is excellent.” To recreate the dine-in experience at home, Leung adds a six-minute egg, a handful of chopped scallions and a few slices of pork chashu (which he usually buys frozen from Tondou Ramen or Raijin).
6. Sapporo Ichiban Chicken Ramen + eggs + butter + garlic powder + black pepper: This hack, courtesy of Kylie Jenner’s viral TikTok, reminds Leung of a cheeseless cacio e pepe. After boiling the noodles in just enough water to cover them, he adds butter, half the seasoning packet the ramen comes with, some garlic powder and two raw eggs. He then vigorously stirs everything until it emulsifies. To finish, Leung grinds in a hearty helping of black pepper for a piquant punch.