Nongshim Budae-jjigae Instant Noodle Review

An unopened cup of Nongshim Budae-jjigae Instant Noodles.
Photo by Author

South Korea’s army stew boiled down to its pure essence, Nongshim’s Budae-jjigae, is a marvel of food engineering for its perfectly accurate rendition of flavors. Maybe Budae-jjigae has an easily extrapolatable flavor profile? Or, maybe making something that tastes like everything is fairly simple to do? I don’t know the answer to these questions, but Nongshim, sure did, create something special with this cup of noodles.

Ah! I think I have it!

Nongshim must have sent their food engineers back in time (without clothing, of course) to gather samples of broth from the very first pot of budae-jjigae ever made to create these instant noodles. The food scientists then had to stop a potential Armageddon scenario that might have happened because of a war against machines. After stopping “Ramen Net,” they lived out their lives before passing on the frozen samples to Nongshim, who then cloned the…

Ah, forget it! You know what I mean. These noodles are dang good, so you should definitely run to a supermarket near you to get your claws on some!

Flavor:

Dang… these noodles taste FANTASTIC! Nongshim has made something special with these noodles. The flavor stays very true to authentic restaurant quality or homemade budae-jjigae. If I was just sipping the broth from either version, I seriously don’t think I could tell a difference. It’s that accurate. You would know which one you had when you hit a pile of ramen noodles, but until then, good luck figuring out which was which! The overall flavor is satisfying to eat because of its spicy, salty, and fatty broth. This cup of noodles also had plenty of ingredients mixed in, such as: kimchi, ddeok (thinly sliced rice cakes), spam, sausage, and spring onion. That’s not doing too bad for a dish that originally incorporated any ingredients you could get your hands on for supper.

Spiciness:

Budae-jjigae is a rather mild cup of noodles that gets its heat from red chili pepper powder. It’s more of a flavor enhancer than it is meant for torture (Sorry, Samyang!). I could only feel the heat in my mouth with a slight tingling sensation. It didn’t really warm my belly though. The spiciness remained isolated to only my mouth. It’s not nearly spicy enough to even make you sweat, so these noodles should be for almost everyone.

Smell:

This cup of instant noodles might just be the most accurate smelling attempt at replicating an authentic dish. These really, really smell identical to a restaurant or homemade version of budae-jjigae. It has the aroma of kimchi, red chili pepper powder, and the canned meats. You can catch the aroma of several of the ingredients, which adds to the believability that you’re consuming a dish with an assortment of meats and other ingredients. It smells rich and fatty with a touch of spice and a fistful of salt. The combination of the carbohydrates from the noodles and the fats found in the processed meats make this bowl of noodles smell freakin’ delicious.

Noodles:

Not a whole lot to talk about in this department. These are your basic ramen noodles. These noodles do look a little slimmer than some cups of ramen, but have the same flavor. I really think Nongshim picked the correct noodles to accompany the flavors of budae-jjigae. You can really pick up the fatty broth well with this type of noodle.

Overall:

I am super impressed! Nongshim’s Budae-jjigae has accurately described the authentic flavor of this wartime dish with insane precision. This is the laser-guided smart missile of instant noodles. When I taste these noodles, they come alive. It really does almost feel like you’re eating a piece of history. I’m already a huge fan of the dish and like to enjoy it together with some friends, but this packaged instant version I love just as much. This is the definition of comfort food. It’s warm and satisfyingly fatty with plenty of other ingredients to enjoy. It’s complex, but has a singular overall tasty flavor. And most importantly, Budae-jjigae makes great use of processed mystery meats. Normally, I’m not a fan, but for this, I’ll make an exception. Cheers, Nongshim!

Does your country hold Spam in high regard? What are your favorite kinds of processed meats? Let me know in the comments!

If you’re interested in hearing more about instant ramen, check out my on-going series, Noodle Story: An Exploration of Korean Instant Noodles, here on Medium.

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Foodie, Cyclist, Educator… Living the expat life in Busan, South Korea — Check out Burger n' Kimchi on YouTube for a glimpse of South Korean Food!

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Foodie, Cyclist, Educator… Living the expat life in Busan, South Korea — Check out Burger n' Kimchi on YouTube for a glimpse of South Korean Food!