I was never a fan of tasteless American instant noodles—the ridiculously cheap ones called Maruchan Ramen that give legit Japanese ramen a bad name. In college I always resorted to Easy Mac for a quick meal over Ramen.
So when I saw the variety of Thai instant noodles called Mama sitting on the shelf at the one of the many 7/11’s on every corner in Bangkok, I thought, “Ew, they have instant noodles here too??”
But I forgot I was in Thailand, where even instant noodles have flavor that makes your tongue dance with delight.
I don’t remember the exact time I first tried Mama noodles. It might have been at work when one of my Thai co-workers heated some water in one of those electric kettles, opened the colorful, crinkly Mama package, put the noodles in a bowl, poured over the steaming water, added the seasoning packets, stirred and then offered me a bite—like all good Thais do whenever they have food and friends in front of them.
I never say no to trying food, so I took a bite, and smiled. It tasted just like a Thai dish I would get from a Thai street vendor. How could I have ever thought Thai instant noodles would be like America’s?
And then later I discovered my favorite way to eat Mama noodles. To boil them, drain the water, add the seasoning and whatever meat, and veggies I liked. So simple, but so good—and so fast.
Don’t get me wrong. There is a time and a place for Mama noodles, and it’s definitely not every night for dinner. This is our go-to meal when we feel lazy to cook something more intense, but want to feel full and still have that Thai taste on our tongues. It’s also nice to make if you just had a baby and are having your first dinner guest over since having that baby, which is why I made it recently.
And I discovered that you can even buy Mama noodles in the Asian food aisle at Wal-Mart Supercenter?! And they are cheap too. But usually we stock up on our Asian grocery store runs and get many different flavors. Do whatever is easiest for you, and have fun with them!