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Photograph: Hai Chi Jia suan la fen

Mala instant noodles ranked from best to worst

We try various mala instant noodles that deliver that addictive tongue-numbing feeling in a pinch

Delfina Utomo
Written by
Delfina Utomo

It's hard to deny that instant noodles are an important part of the pantry. Don't know what to cook? Nothing in the fridge for dinner? Looking for a quick snack in between Netflix episodes? Instant noodles to the rescue. But you don't always have to stick to Indomie and the usual suspects. If you're a mala hothead, here are some alternative noodles to indulge in. Just make sure you have a tall glass of cold water nearby to put out the fire.

RECOMMENDED: The best mala snacks in Singapore and the best Sichuan restaurants in Singapore

Tseng Noodles Scallion with Sichuan Pepper
Photograph: Tseng Noodles

1. Tseng Noodles Scallion with Sichuan Pepper

These noodles may look simple but the Taiwanese instant noodle brand has topped many 'best' lists all around the world. The noodles are handmade and sundried, which gives it a chewy texture. The seasoning – red scallion oil infused with Sichuan peppers – is spicy but not overwhelmingly so, and is palatable enough for someone who can't take heat. The noodles soak up the sauce perfectly and pack a punch with every bite.

COST From $12.90 for a pack of four
WHERE TO BUY Available in selected supermarkets (check the international food aisle) or online on Shopee and Lazada

Hai Chi Jia Sour & Spicy Noodle
Photograph: Hai Chi Jia suan la fen

2. Hai Chi Jia Sour & Spicy Noodle

There's a reason why this cult favourite started blowing up on social media recently. Its cute brown cardboard packaging definitely stands out in a sea of shiny plastic wrappers. And its taste is comparable to a hot bowl of sweet potato noodles you would have in a Sichuan restaurant. There are peanuts for crunch and dried beancurd skin that soaks up the spicy and vinegary broth. Despite the simple add-ons, the noodles are good as they are and you don't need to add more meat or toppings. Here's a pro-tip: let the noodles sit and cook a little longer to achieve the perfect thickness and chewiness. 

COST From $19.90 for six cups
WHERE TO BUY A few shops on Shopee and Lazada stock the noodles

Myojo Dry Mala Xiang Guo noodles
Photograph: Myojo

3. Myojo Dry Mala Xiang Guo noodles

For $1.80, Myojo's mala offering is pretty decent. It certainly tastes like having mala Xiang guo at the hawker centre, and there's even some dried vegetables and mushrooms. Plus, it's really cheap. We recommend topping it off with a Hanjuku egg from 7-Eleven – or you could always make your own marinated egg and add some fresh vegetables to make the noodles feel like a complete dish. 

COST $1.80
WHERE TO BUY Available at most supermarkets and convenience stores

Samyang Mala Hot Chicken noodles
Photograph: Delfina Utomo

4. Samyang Mala Hot Chicken noodles

Most of us are familiar with the fiery Korean Samyang noodles so making a mala variant makes sense. The sauce is said to contain Sichuan peppercorns but it is not very dominant in the overall flavour. If anything, we like the texture of the noodles more than the sauce itself – still, it's a decent option if the other noodles are out of stock. 

COST From $7 for a pack of 5
WHERE TO BUY Available from most supermarkets or online

Hai Di Lao Instant Hot Pot
Photograph: Nicole-Marie Ng

5. Hai Di Lao Instant Hot Pot

Conceptually, this is a great idea. If you can't have hot pot at your favourite spot, you can package the experience in an instant hot pot, right? Wrong. The soup doesn't quite hit the spot – the thick layer of chilli oil clings to everything and delivers intense heat without any nuance. But if the end goal of your mala meal is to kill your tastebuds then maybe this instant hot pot might have some fans after all.

Some pros, each packet comes with a self-heating pack, crunchy pickled vegetables and preserved meat. But we recommend waiting till Hai Di Lao reopens so you can fully enjoy the experience – immaculate service and all.

COST From $12.90
WHERE TO BUY Available at selected supermarkets and on Lazada

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