It almost goes without saying, but no university diet is complete without instant noodles in all forms. Luckily, a group of Durham students recently formed Durham’s first and foremost Instant Noodle Society, satisfying our collective craving for instant noodles. Eager to learn more, we spoke to the founders and exec of the Instant Noodle Society.
Could you introduce yourselves and tell us some more about your favourite instant noodles?
Abigail: Hey, I’m Abigail! I’m currently the president of the Instant Noodle Society, and I’m a second-year law student from Stephenson College. This may sound terribly generic but I really love instant noodles with strong flavours like noodles with rich broths or those that really pack a punch spice-wise. Other than that, I’m not really that picky, just anything good will do.
Chloe: Hello, I’m Chloe! I am the treasurer of the Instant Noodle Society. I’m from Collingwood College and I’m also a second-year law student. I love eating instant noodles because they’re just so easy to cook. Also, they’re cheap and taste amazing! I don’t have a favourite brand of instant noodles, but if I had to pick, it would be something soup-based, either Shin Ramyun or Mama Tom Yum Flavour! Who wouldn’t love a piping hot bowl of spicy soup when it’s cold outside?
Rei: Hi, I’m Rei! I am the secretary of the Instant Noodle Society and I am a second-year law student from Grey College. My favourite instant noodles right now are Jin Ramen (the spicy version) after a strong recommendation from a friend during lockdown. I really like them because the noodles really absorb the delicious broth and retain that flavour all while maintaining its chewy texture, and not many instant noodles can achieve that balance.
As you know, there are plenty of ways to upgrade instant noodles. Do you have your own recipes or favourite variations of instant noodles?
A: To change things up, sometimes I opt to purchase the noodles and sauce packets separately. This is because each noodle-sauce combination yields an entirely different flavour and mouth-feel (e.g. same sauce with different types, cuts and brands of noodles). My must-haves to go with instant noodles are lots and lots (and lots) of spring onions and a slightly overcooked sunny-side-up egg! It really isn’t the same without these two ingredients – they elevate the entire dining experience.
C: Usually, I like my instant noodles as they are. But sometimes, I will add some mushrooms, sausages, eggs or dumplings just to spice it up. I’m a simple person.
R: For me, as a bare minimum, I will add a poached egg with a gooey, runny egg yolk or a sunny-side up. If I’m craving something a little more fancy, I typically add vegetables like bak choy or spinach, prawns, and clams. Gyozas or dumplings are a great addition too!
What’s your favourite flavour of instant noodle?
A: Samyang Jjajang Hot Chicken Flavour! The best and most underrated flavour in the entire series (in my opinion).
C: Anything spicy, really!
R: This is a tough one because I was really into Tom Yum soup-based instant noodles for awhile, but I think now I have transitioned over to kimchi flavoured instant noodles.
What inspired you to start the society?
As Singaporeans, food has always been a huge part of our culture. It’s really what unites us as a nation. For instance, the motivation behind meeting up with friends is really just to eat and have good food. Even if the queues are long or the prices are steep, it is something that we are, more often than not, willing to endure. Thus, having understood the universality of the language of food and its ability to bring people closer together, we decided we really wanted to start up our own society surrounding food to introduce that culture here into Durham. As we were brainstorming, we realised that we wanted our society to be about food that we genuinely enjoyed, while also being student-friendly: cheap, quick and accessible. As instant noodles checked all these boxes, it was really a no-brainer there on out!
Have you collaborated, or do you plan to collaborate with other societies?
C: We are still in the midst of planning and have nothing confirmed yet, but we are open to collaborate with any society who wants to. We do have a few societies in mind already, like the Chinese Tea Art Society and the Bubble Tea SocieTea, as they are drink societies and we think they will go well with instant noodles.
How is the society adapting to COVID-19?
A: Like many others, the INS has had to move our fortnightly meetings to online platforms. It certainly has not been easy, considering the nature and vision for the society was really all about being able to convene and get together. However, our mission to provide students with an environment to chill, make friends and unwind has not changed. We will continue to strive to make our society a warm and homely place for students even though we are physically separated – and eat good noodles too!
If the pandemic didn’t exist, what events would you plan for this year?
R: Movie nights! I had this idea for a movie night welcome event where we would screen the movie, Parasite, because the instant noodle dish, RamDon, in that movie became really popular. I thought about how we could play the movie on a projector, have everyone come with their pillows and blankets, and sit spaced out from one another. Then at the instant noodle scene, we would pause the movie briefly to hand out small bowls of the noodles and resume the movie afterwards so everyone could taste what the characters in the movie were actually eating.
Illustration by Abigail Ling