If instant noodles are among your work-from-home comfort foods, try suan la fen or sour and spicy noodles, the hottest cup-noodle trend from China to sweep Singapore.
Each cup – printed with cute cartoons and catch-phrases – is filled with individually packed ingredients. More fancy options include vacuum-sealed clams, scallops and mushrooms – along with seasoning powders, vinegar and mala sauce.
A popular flavour is Hei Ren Bu Luo’s mala oden, comprising fishballs and a striped fishcake with roe filling.
And unlike typical cup noodles that come with a flimsy aluminium-foil lid, the suan la fen cup has a cover that can be properly secured to ensure no heat escapes and your noodles are properly cooked.
The average cooking time is five minutes and the portion is good enough for a light meal or satisfying supper.
Supermarket chain Sheng Siong carries a few brands. You can also find a wider range on e-commerce platforms such as Shopee, Lazada, Qoo10 and Carousell, but preorders are usually required and prices and delivery charges vary.
The Sunday Times did a taste test of eight types of spicy cup noodles via video-conferencing app Zoom. The judges were ST food editor Tan Hsueh Yun, ST food critic Wong Ah Yoke and chef-owner Willin Low of the Wild Rocket Group.
Each noodle could get up to 30 points – 10 each for taste, texture and ingredients.
The top two cups came from the Haichijia brand, which bears the face of Hong Kong actor Bobby Yip on its packaging.
The suan la fen winner had the best noodle texture, with a good dose of spice, while the runner-up, hua jia fen (spicy clam noodles), had a lighter broth.
Ms Tan said: “The top noodles didn’t paralyse my taste buds. The ones that failed had no nuance and no subtlety in the flavours. I desperately wanted to love the oden, but the spice just kept hammering at my palate.”
Chef Low added: “The winner ticks the boxes of ma (numbing) and la (spicy). For the spicy clam noodles, I wanted to keep drinking the soup. It didn’t taste like instant noodles, but like someone had cooked it.”