New York University's independent student newspaper, established in 1973.

Washington Square News

New York University's independent student newspaper, established in 1973.

Washington Square News

New York University's independent student newspaper, established in 1973.

Washington Square News

How to level up your instant ramen game

From adding silky egg ribbons to Flamin’ Hot Cheetos, here are five hacks you need to try to upgrade the classic college student meal.
Matt Petres
ICHIRAN’s ramen in a pot. (Matt Petres for WSN)

You can’t call yourself a college student if you don’t live off of instant ramen — or at least during the busy final exam season. Truly, if you were to cut my stomach open, you’d just find a mush of soupy noodles. However, as someone who consumes instant ramen almost daily, I can confirm that the quintessential block of bland noodles and MSG-filled seasoning packet can only get so far with universal flavor. 

Whether you’re a first-year student living in a residence hall who only has access to a microwave or a senior with a fully equipped apartment kitchen, you can never be at the wrong occasion to enjoy some instant ramen. But to stimulate the taste buds with some variety, there are endless ways to take your noodles from a depressing sight to a delicious foodie creation. Here’s my guide to amplifying your instant ramen with a few simple ingredients.


Pick a tasty instant ramen base

I get it, sometimes it’s too easy to opt for the Nissin Top Ramen Chicken Flavor packs that you see down all the American grocery store aisles. If that’s the only brand available to you, then go for it — but if not, I highly encourage you to try other varieties. Although I consider myself Samyang Buldak Carbonara’s No. 1 fan, I’ve recently converted to ICHIRAN’s Vegan Take-Home Ramen Kit. As one of my all-time favorite ramen shops in New York City, ICHIRAN serves thin and straight Hakata-style noodles and luscious broth in its bowls.

If you know me, you know that I don’t usually like vegan options, but ICHIRAN’s vegan ramen is a great dupe of tonkotsu flavor, and it’s so convenient to be able to make it at home. If you gave me a bowl without telling me it’s vegan, I wouldn’t be able to tell the difference.


Try the classic egg-drop method

Once you have the noodles and seasoning from your instant ramen pack boiling together, beat an egg in a separate bowl. Then, pour it slowly into the broth — and by slowly, I mean slowly. When the egg is all incorporated, give the ramen a good gentle swirl.

This egg-drop method creates silky ribbons throughout your broth, adding a creamier and thicker consistency to the dish. For those who are in their bulking era, this hack is perfect for getting in easy protein, especially after a workout session at Palladium Athletic Facility or 404 Fitness.


Add a splash of coconut milk

Staying on the theme of creamy broths, coconut milk is one of the best catalysts for a richer soup. Especially if you’re using a chicken, pork or beef-flavored instant ramen pack, adding a splash of coconut milk transforms your boring broth into one reminiscent of curry.

If you want to pull out the big guns, I recommend stirring in both an egg and coconut milk to elevate the egg-drop method and make your ramen the thickest it has ever been.


String in enoki mushrooms

I sincerely believe there is not one person on this planet who doesn’t like enoki mushrooms. But if you are that one person, it’s time to reconsider your stance with this hack. Enoki mushrooms are the best mushrooms out there — they’re chewy but not too chewy, cook fast and tear apart easily.

While your noodles are boiling, tear enoki mushrooms into skinny bunches of strings and mix them thoroughly into the noodles. Once everything’s cooked, you get a magnificent mixture of soft noodles and tender mushrooms in every bite. Enoki mushrooms are also famously a noodle substitute, so if you’re trying to limit your carb intake, use them exclusively.


Crush and sprinkle Flamin’ Hot Cheetos on top

This one goes out to the spice lovers. Typically, if I want to make a dish spicy, I just sauce it up with massive globs of Sriracha. But the broth can’t be the only thing that’s spicy — there has to be a cherry on top.

Take a small bag of Flamin’ Hot Cheetos and crush it recklessly to your heart’s desire. Then, open the bag and sprinkle as many Cheeto bits over your ramen as you’d like. However, don’t sink the bits into the broth — you want to maintain a dichotomy of crunchy and squishy between the Cheetos and the noodles.


Make a dry sauce out of the seasoning packet

It’s 2024 and instant ramen packs are not just for making noodle soups anymore. Instead of pouring your seasoning packet straight into boiling water, form a dry sauce instead to create your very own pasta-like ramen.

First, boil the noodles separately. While those are cooking, mix some light spoonfuls of oyster sauce, soy sauce, sesame oil, chili oil, brown sugar, noodle water and any garnishes like cilantro, green onion, sesame seeds and nori flakes. Throw together whatever sauces you already have and carefully fold the noodles through the final mixture. Don’t be afraid to experiment! 


Contact Andrea Lui at [email protected]

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About the Contributors
Andrea Lui
Andrea Lui, Dining Editor
Andrea Lui is a sophomore at Stern studying Business with concentrations in Finance and Computing & Data Science and a minor in Business of Entertainment, Media and Technology. She developed a profound love for writing while performing poetry, prose and dramatic monologues for over 10 years as a competitive public speaker. At NYU, she's also an Admissions Ambassador and serves as the External Relations Co-Director of the Board of Undergraduate Stern Women in Business. Andrea is on a mission to try every single restaurant in New York City … Check out @lui.andrea on Instagram to see if she succeeds.
Matt Petres
Matt Petres, Photo Editor
Matt Petres is a first-year studying Economics. He is from Chicago, Illinois and likes to bike and kayak. You can contact him on Instagram @matt.petres

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