Which brands and flavors are the best-selling in Japan right now? Let’s find out!

The pandemic may have hit a lot of businesses and industries hard, but the cup noodle industry is not one of them. In fact, according to a survey conducted by the Statistics Bureau of Japan, the demand for noodles has increased almost as much in the past year as the demand for rice and bread, despite a decrease in overall cash spending among Japanese households.

The reason why is easy to guess. For many families whose members are working from home, cooking three meals a day is a lot of work. Cup noodles are easy and reduce dishwashing, making for a quick and low-effort meal. Plus, kids love them! They also keep for a long time, are cheap, and come in an infinite number of varieties, so they’re easy and convenient to stock for future meals.

Of course, since demand is higher than ever, it follows that there has to be a top 10 instant cup noodle brands and flavors list, because what are statistics without a ranking? So here are the top 10 best-selling brands for the period of December 1, 2020 to February 28, 2021, as presented by Urecon Rankings (powered by TrueData).

10. Nissin’s Cup Noodle Curry (193 yen/US$1.76)

The ultimate combination of two delicious things: ramen and curry. As an alternative to the traditional cup ramen flavor, this takes the cake. Some people like to augment it by adding cheese or eggs on top, so there are lots of ways to spice it up even more. The opportunities are endless.

9. Nissin’s Donbei Tempura Soba (East) (193 yen)

Classic hot soba topped with crunchy tempura is a nice contrast of texture that’s likely pleasing for many. The broth for most instant soba and udon bowls actually differs in east Japan and west Japan, but the eastern broth, composed of soy sauce made with whole soybeans, proved popular enough throughout the whole nation to rank at number nine. This cup noodle also recently came in a “Longer than ever soba” variety, which made for extra fun eating, though that one probably doesn’t count for this ranking.

8. Nissin’s Donbei Kitsune Udon (West) (193 yen)

Who can resist a big slab of deep-fried tofu on top of some thick, chewy udon noodles? This is another common Japanese noodle dish that many people know and love. In this case, the kelp and bonito-based western broth won out for eighth place, but it won’t be the last kitsune udon you’ll see on this list!

7. Nissin’s Donbei Kitsune Udon (East) (193 yen) (same packaging and look)

Hot on its heels is Nissin’s eastern Donbei Kitsune Udon, which has the same green packaging and tasty, seasoned fried tofu block. The difference lies in the broth, which has a base of soy sauce made from whole soy beans and bonito, instead of kelp and bonito. Trying and comparing the differences between the two regional varieties could be a fun experiment to conduct between lunch and dinner.

6. Nissin’s Yakisoba U.F.O. (193 yen)

There will never be a day in our lives when we would say no to a bowl of Yakisoba U.F.O., and it seems like Japanese consumers agree. Named for being the first cup yakisoba to have a round bowl, Yakisoba U.F.O. has been going strong for 70 years, likely because of its thick, rich sauce and classic yakisoba flavor.

5. Nissin’s Cup Noodle Seafood Noodle (193 yen)

Photo by Nissin

Arguably one of the most iconic Cup Noodle flavors in Japan, it’s no surprise that Cup Noodle Seafood flavor would breach the top five in sales. With a broth of seafood and pork topped with surimi made with squid and crab flavors, this Cup Noodle variety is a fan favorite that just about everyone enjoys. Pro-tip: add a little bit of sliced beef for a next-level upgrade!

4. Toyo Suisan’s Maruchan Midori no Tanuki Ten Soba (East) (193 yen)

Another version of tempura soba appears in the top four! The Midori no Tanuki, known for its bright green labeling, was actually re-released in October last year, now with even tastier shrimp tempura. This soba bowl comes not only in an “east” and “west” variety, but also has bowls that feature flavors from Hokkaido, Kansai, and various other regions in Japan. This eastern version, which has a broth made of bonito and soy sauce sweetened with sugar, takes the fourth spot.

3. Toyo Suisan’s Maruchan Akai Kitsune Udon (East) (193 yen)

Toyo Suisan’s udon bowl cleverly contrasts with its sister soba bowl by claiming the color red. This bowl is known for its especially large piece of deep fried tofu, as well as its rich kelp and bonito broth.

2. Nissin’s Cup Noodle (193 yen)

Ah, the classic Cup Noodle. When it comes to cup ramen, you literally can’t go wrong with this bad boy! According to data, about 23 percent of Cup Noodle consumers are regular customers, so you probably understand why it’s made it to second place. But why isn’t it number one? Well, it was, but this year it relinquished the title to…

1. Toyo Suisan’s Maruchan Gotsu Mori Sauce Yakisoba (various prices)

Photo by Toyo Suisan

Beating out Japan’s top-selling instant noodle is surprisingly not a ramen, but a yakisoba! “Gotsu mori” means this instant noodle bowl comes with more noodles than most–130 grams (4.6 ounces) of noodles, in fact, which is almost double Maruchan’s other offerings. Last year, this instant noodle bowl was only ranked at number four, but this year it jumped to number one, possibly due to its much more filling portions. Of course, its deliciously rich, umami-filled sauce probably helps too.

Unsurprisingly, classic flavors from big-name cup noodle brands account for all of the members of the top 10 list, despite the wide variety of tasty alternative flavors out there. All of them, incidentally, come highly recommended by women, who make up almost 70 percent of frequent cup noodle purchasers, and who are probably busy mothers needing quick meals for their hungry kids, or something to eat when they’re tired of eating their own cooking. So if you’re looking for a dinner that everyone will be happy with, why not try one of these popular brands? And of course, don’t forget to dispose of your leftover broth safely!

Source: Limo via Yahoo! News via Hachima Kiko
Top image: Pakutaso
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