Back in 2013 after going to Korea for the first time, I tried my first Buldak Bokkeumyeon (불닭볶음면) due to a lot of friends in the past London K-Pop community trying it out. It sent the bar for spicy instant ramen taste (higher than Shin Ramyun, Kimchi Ramyun etc.) there is a few I have not tried e.g. Cool (쿨), Ddukbokki (쫄볶이) but from the ones that I have managed to try, I’m going to go through all the ones that suddenly became an influx in 2016-17.
오리지날 불닭볶음면 (Original Buldak Bokkeum Myeon)
The original that started it all. I remember first trying this after coming back from Korea in 2013, probably around when the Fire Noodle challenge was still very popular and I didn’t imagine to be this hot. After trying it, I was very intrigued with this burning taste and decided to stock up as much as I could during the winter when I wanted something spicy and quick to eat.
핵불닭볶음면 (Spicy x 2)
Many people fear this one due to it being twice the spice as any of the other flavours. However this is my most favourite one that I highly recommend. Compared to the original, there is something about the increase in spice that spreads all over your mouth that you will grow to love. I feel like even the colour of the spice once it spreads on the noodles brings a more firmer taste.
까르보 불닭볶음면 (Carbonara Style)
To be honest, I don’t think there’s much to say about the Carbo flavour. It is based off of carbonara and has a more sweeter and because of that decreases the spice level greatly. In my opinion, the essence of a buldak taste gets worse as well.
불닭볶음탕면 (Soup Style)
In my opinion, it’s one of the most better ones. The most biggest difference is the type of noodles as it is more like the ones you find in a stew e.g. Galbitang (갈비탕), Samgyetang (삼계탕). Apart from that in my opinion there is also a slight stew taste but everything else is quite similar to the original.
치즈 불닭볶음면 (Cheese Flavour)
Unfortunately like the Carbo flavour, I wasn’t fond of this one. Cheese and ramen usually go together, that is very true especially when you have ddukbokki thrown into the mix. But there is something about cheese already been added to a product that destroys and can put me off a taste of a product. (삼양
치즈 불닭볶음면) Buldak Bokkeumyeon cheese flavour is the one to ruin it for me. It tastes quite slimy like the cheese slips off the ramen even though you can’t see it.
짜장 불닭볶음면 (Jjajangmyeon Style)
This is the only buldak bokkeum that I’ve tried that is pretty alright from the latest collection of flavours. Like the stew flavour one, it was also a change in spice with it being slightly decreased and the noodle are more of a (중화면) jungwhamyeon style.
카레 불닭볶음면 (Curry Flavour)
Like the name, the flavour smells intensely of Japanese curry (trust me on this) but the taste only has a small hint of curry to it. I think if you’re a huge curry fan, you might like this. Even though I’m a fan of curry, I was not fond of this one. This kind of taste was similar to the cheese one that kind of ruined the taste for me.
마라 불닭볶음면 (Mala Style)
The taste of Mala is originally known to have a similar taste to the sensation of Sichuan. You would expect your tongue to feel quite numb right? But actually it’s the exact opposite – it’s a hint of sweetness which is unusual in my opinion to many dishes with this spice. However I think it’s quite a nice change from the other flavours and would recommend it because the buldak flavour still rises to match the Mala taste.
This would be my overall ranking for all together, there is enough spice in each packet to cause you to at least have a cold drink or fruit to help combat the flavour. Which one is your favourite?