At best these new noodles from Samyang are a bronze, not a gold. I take that back. Maybe Samyang didn’t make the podium at all and should only get a participatory ribbon for giving this ramen a good ol' fashioned try.
Samyang Ramen “Gold" is underwhelming to say the least, which is rather unusual coming from a titanic company with such a large following. It’s humbling to see that a successful ramen company can still fail so hard at making something. These noodles are uninspired and I personally don’t feel like they fit anywhere in the wide world of ramen. I’m not exactly sure about the logic that went into making these or where the “gold" in the name came from, but one thing is for certain…
These noodles are BORING!
“Gold" implies that there is something special or luxurious about these instant noodles. I can assure you, these noodles have neither quality. At first, I was thinking these noodles would be like Shin Ramen Black, which feature a bolder flavor at a slightly elevated quality that distinguishes it from the original. I was obviously wrong about my assumption of Ramen Gold. It’s literally just soup wrapped in a stupidly old fashioned looking cup, despite the fact that I don’t think this is even a classic. This makes these noodles even more bizarre to me… So, I guess if you’re still with me and haven’t ran away in terror yet, let’s do some ramen analysis!
Like I said before, there’s nothing “Gold” about a Samyang’s Ramen Gold… There is a severe lack of ingredients that would be unacceptable by modern standards. Oh, wait. These are modern retro noodles… too bad for Samyang. In this cup, you’ll definitely find the noodles and laver, but you’ll have a hard time searching for a couple shreds of carrot and a tiny amount of spring onion. There really is nothing to these noodles! They are super easy to cook though…
The seafood broth is the star of the show. This is because there’s nothing else in this cup of instant noodles to enjoy. If you were looking for meat, seafood, egg, or maybe some other veggies, you’re not going to find them here. The MSG gives this ramen a much needed boost of flavor. It relies so heavily on the salty and savory broth, without the added MSG these noodles would be in big trouble. The seafood flavor of the broth is rich and just a tad spicy. It’s not a bad combination, but the classic flavor doesn’t get me as excited as Samyang’s other offerings.
Samyang Ramen Gold has that classic ramen aroma that smells strongly of instant noodles and a seafood broth. There’s a lack of spiciness in the aroma, so people that are weak to any level of spiciness will probably be blindsided. The aroma of the seafood is equally as intense as the aroma of MSG. It has those salty and savory notes that your nose picks up on quite quickly. With that being said, this type of aroma is typical of the more classically flavored bowls of instant noodles.
The salty and savory broth contains both ground red pepper and black pepper to add more layers of flavor to the central star of the ramen, the broth. Without this added spiciness from both types of pepper, we would have a seriously boring cup of noodles. Luckily, that’s not the case and the broth is probably the best part about these noodles. These noodles are still relatively mild, but the spice does linger in your mouth, so be prepared for a touch a heat.
There’s a generous helping of noodles in this cup. I was surprised by the quantity, which filled my belly to the rim. There might be a lot of them, but they definitely were far from the best. Once again, these noodles ended up much too soft for more liking. They were pretty soft, almost mushy… They managed to hold up reasonably well and maintain their structure while bathing in the warm broth. However, the end bites were saturated with swollen noodles. The thickness of these noodles is average. The major difference between these noodles that stood out to me was their more classically styled flavor. These noodles aren’t the usual sweet and buttery Samyang noodles you get with new or modern flavors.
Meh. Fine? Just okay… Samyang Ramen Gold is a fine, classically flavored cup of ramen with plenty of noodles to be eaten. Unfortunately, these noodles are almost excruciatingly boring, because of a severe lack of ingredients. Without a truck-full of MSG, these noodles wouldn’t be all that delicious. There’s just nothing substantial to them, other than a generous amount of noodles.
I feel like Samyang just needs to stick with creating new and exciting flavors. There are plenty of other classic instant noodles out there and I’m not sure there is a special place left among them for these noodles to slot in. Unless you’re craving a changeup in your typical ramen rotation that includes a classic cup of ramen noodles, I would skip Ramen Gold and pick up something a little more exciting or truly a classic.
Do you like your ramen noodles to be progressive? Do you think we need more basic or classically flavored ramen? Let me know what you think in the comments!
If you’re interested in hearing more about Korean snack nuts or instant ramen, check out my on-going series, Noodle Story: An Exploration of Korean Instant Noodles and my other series, I Think I’m Going Nuts: An Eyeful of South Korea’s Little Snack Nuts, here on Medium.