I loooooove carbonara.
I also love ramen noodles.
So when I saw instant "carbonara ramen" noodles blowing up on TikTok, I was obviously intrigued. Various influencers were posting themselves devouring it — many adding milk and cheese to the mix. Here's Brooke Schofield scarfing it down:
And Katie Richie:
If you're an avid TikTok user, these videos probably come up for you all the time organically. But if you search "Buldak ramen" on the app, an endless amount of videos appear — all with hundreds of thousands of views.
Many of these videos contain a direct link for buying the ramen through TikTok Shop, TikTok's in-app shopping experience that aims to giver users a chance to instantly buy the products they see being used on the platform. This made me slightly apprehensive about how good the noodles ACTUALLY are, since a huge part of the push to eat them is clearly for financial gain.
Despite my urge to stick it to the man and resist buying it, I felt it was my civic duty to give the noodles an honest review. The most common flavor I saw was the Samyang Carbonara Buldak Chicken Flavor Ramen, so I bit the bullet and ordered it. I bought a package of five and was blown away by how adorable the packaging was. I mean, look at that perfect little chicken!!!
The product is South Korean, but the ingredients and cooking instructions are in English.
First thing's first: boil your water and ADD SALT. I don't care how much salt the packets already contain — salting the pasta water is a rule I will always follow.
I have a fear of mushy noodles, so I always cook them for a minute less than the instructions say. For this recipe, I recommend four minutes to get the perfect noodle texture.
The recipe says to keep around 8 tablespoons of water with the noodles. I didn't want them too watery, so I just made sure to leave a little liquid behind while draining them. The package comes with two seasoning packets — one is a powder to give it that "carbonara" flavor, and the other is a spicy sauce to provide the heat.
When you mix in the packets, it looks like this:
I'm not gonna lie, I didn't have the highest hopes for these noodles. Some of the videos of people eating them looked a little gross to me, and I really did wonder if they were ultimately just a genius TikTok Shop marketing scheme. But when I took my first forkful, I was extremely impressed. They were super spicy, which I love, and had a delicious cheesy and creamy aspect that complemented the spice in a really unique way.
My next step is where everything went downhill. Most people I saw eating the noodles added milk and cheese and INSISTED this made the dish even better. Half-and-half and Parmesan are what I had in my fridge, so I added a splash and a sprinkle of each.
This is what it looked like after adding it. My brother, a veterinarian, said it resembled sheep brains:
I was super disappointed with the results. Adding those two ingredients not only cut the spice (my favorite part), but made the overall flavor more muted and less appealing.
I would definitely recommend trying this ramen flavor, but keep things simple and just use the sauce and powder that it comes with! Also, if you have a low spice tolerance, you can use as little of the sauce packet as you want. If I had to rate this, I would give it an 8/10. There are at least 11 different flavors of Buldak ramen, so if you're interested in trying the others, you can buy a variety pack here.