Have you seen a couple of these sour and spicy mala noodles floating on social media these few months? Well, this is the hottest cup noodle trend from China currently making waves in Singapore. My Instagram feed is filled with raves about this suan la fen – comfort food which satisfies those nagging mala cravings. So I caved in and bought a few to check out what this craze is all about.
Like most of you, I love my instant noodles because they are convenient, tasty and makes for a satisfying supper. While these instant noodles are a little more expensive than the household brands, they actually come with a lot more ingredients including dehydrated clams, vacuum-packed mushrooms, seasoning packets, sauces, oil and lots more. Plus, it is the food craze right now, so they probably won’t come cheap for the next few months at least.
Without further ado, here are 7 sour and spicy cup noodles to try based on MY experiences after trying them out. You can purchase most or all of these mentioned online on Shopee, Lazada, Qoo10 or Ezbuy!
Hai Chi Jia is probably the most well-known of the lot and the most sought-after suan la fen brand, and for a good reason. The spicy vermicelli noodles come with various seasoning and ingredients packets, including dehydrated vegetables. If you enjoy a bowl of spicy soup during a cold rainy day, this is the one to get.
I have a few cups of these stacked at home and judging by the order listings online, I am not the only one who loves its spicy and sour soup broth. Be sure to look out for spokesperson, Bobby Yip’s face on the cups to ensure you are getting the authentic suan la fen!
Spice Meter: **** (A glass of milk is still needed, but shiok!)
A close contender to Hai Chi Jia is Tan Xiao Ai, which offers various flavours such as clam, sour spicy and tomato options. The soup base for its sour-spicy flavour boasts a stronger mala taste compared to Hai Chi Jia, but the vermicelli noodles is less chewy. Well, if you are going for a tingly numbing spice, then perhaps this should be in your shopping cart.
Spice Meter: **** (“Can you pass me five pieces of tissues, please? No, make that six.”)
Hai Chi Jia comes up with another flavour, Hua Jia Fen (Lala Clams). Though lesser known, I’ll rank this as my favourite so far. Not only does this have more texture and ingredients like enoki mushrooms (always a win) and clams, this is far less spicy and creamier, and so, tastier. It can be a little salty, so feel free to add more water than usual.
Spice Meter: *** (A little belacan in the soup doesn’t hurt.)
The Jiao Ma Guo Ba Fen has a rich chicken broth taste and smell. This is also a less spicy option for those who don’t fancy a torturous burn to the tongue. What’s great about this instant noodle is the rice crackers! How many times do you actually put rice crackers into your soup? Of course, don’t expect your rice crackers to be crisp after soaking it in the soup, but it does give an added texture to the overall experience. Feel free to add your own ingredients if you fancy, like shredded chicken or fishcakes.
Spice Meter: ** (Slurp, slurp!)
Have you always wondered ‘what if there were more chewable elements in this…?’ Well, the Hei Ren Bu Luo’s Mala Oden heard your prayers, offering the best of both worlds. Included inside each instant noodle cups is the vermicelli noodles and about six different kinds of fishcake variations, similar to the items you pick for your yong tau foo.
Be mindful on how much chilli paste you want to add because this is spicy. Like really, really deadly-volcanic spicy.
Spice Meter: ***** (My tongue and tummy died and was revived after a life-changing trip to the toilet and lots and lots of milk after.)
Of course, how can we forget Hai Di Lao, the immensely-popular hot pot place Singaporeans flock to way too often. While Hai Di Lao has a few instant noodles products such as its very own ‘self-heating’ instant hot pot glass noodles, this is a little different. Hai Di Lao has hopped on to the suan la fen bandwagon, offering three flavours – Sour and Spicy Beef Tripe; Tomato Beef Noodles; and Sour and Spicy Assorted.
Spice Meter: *** (Think of it as the mala soup base you would order at the restaurant.)
Don’t be fooled by the cartoon character on the packaging for Da Boss Suan La Fen is not joking around when it comes to how spicy this can be. Like the Mala Oden, this cup noodles is pretty off the charts. The Sichuan pepper taste (the cause of your numbness) is pretty strong and it is very oily. The chilli oil sticks to the noodles, which can be off-putting to some, but if you ignore that aspect and crave a crazy spice, then you’d love this. The ingredients such as the beancurd adds a pleasing texture and taste too.
Spice Meter: ***** (I couldn’t finish this. Too spicy!)