Let’s enter a “No Judgment Zone,” shall we? Some days, it’s just hard to adult. The internet’s on the fritz (again), the cat ate part of the welcome mat, and your kid has smeared some weird brown substance on your freshly-painted living room wall (and you and I are both hoping it’s not that, but oh my Lord, what if it is? Do you just give up and move?)
Hey, I feel you. I feel you when you say that dinner is going to be — ugh, whatever. Literally, whatever. That’s why I tasted 20 different types of ramen to bring you the best instant ramen and sweatpants for when you just can’t.
1. NongShim Ramyun Spicy Beef Noodle Soup, $17 (for 20 packs) + James Perse Relaxed Pocket Sweatpant, $137
NongShim’s Ramyun’s spicy beef noodle instant ramen is a great cold weather, sinus-clearing instant ramen. The noodles are thicker and denser than regular instant ramen, giving the dish heft and substance. As with all of the instant ramen I ate, it’s slightly disturbing to rip open a pack of tiny dehydrated vegetables knowing that, deep down inside, the nutritional value of something that’s been shrunken to the size of Mike Teevee in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory can’t ultimately be good for you. But again, we’re talking about surviving today, not thriving.
Pair this heady beef ramen with kicky James Perse relaxed pocket sweatpants, which are sleek enough for wearing out of the house yet comfy enough that you can cry-yell at this week’s episode of This is Us. You might not be in a proud place, but at least you’ll look good doing it.
2. Nissin Ramen Black Garlic Oil Tonkotsu, $29 (for 30 packs) + Everlane Classic French Terry Sweatpant, $55
The noodles in Nissin Ramen’s Black Garlic Oil Tonkotsu aren’t particularly impressive; instead, it’s the soup here that is the star of the show. The broth has a marbled pork flavor, which makes it seems as if you’ve been simmering a soup for days instead of mere minutes. With the finishing touch of smoky black garlic oil, this ramen tastes like a comfortable, worn leather club chair—a gentleman’s ramen, if you will.
The Nissin Ramen’s Black Garlic Oil Tonkotsu is best enjoyed with an equally dark, cozy pair of Everlane’s Classic French Terry Sweatpant in black. Everlane’s French terry material are 100% cotton and ethically made. I own a sweatshirt out of this material, and I’d live in it if it weren’t for the fact that laundry day rolls around every once in awhile. These sweatpants have just the right amount of swagger combined with a generous give to hide your worst eating days. You know what I’m talking about — that time you chased a cronut with a handful of gummy bears followed by a bag of salt and vinegar potato chips. These pants are there to hold you in, hug you tight, and say, “You do you, girl.”
3. Mama Oriental Style Instant Noodles Shrimp Flavour (Tom Yum), $17 (for 30 packs) + Monrow Star Sweatpant, $35
Up next on my list of the best instant and sweatpants is Mama’s Thai-flavored instant ramen (doesn’t it just sound wrong saying that?) is one of my favorite kinds of instant ramen, ever. It’s spicy and sour, just like the tom yum soup that’s a fixture in Thai restaurants. Charmingly, step three on the back of the package lets you know that, after boiling the noodles for the required amount of time, ““Now delicious and appetizing noodles is ready for serving” (sic). The zing in this broth has a solid, throat-catching heat, and it’s even better if you have a lime lying around to squeeze into the broth to up the zang. At $17 for 30 packs, you won’t run out of Mama before you’ve had enough of her.
Mama’s noodles are best enjoyed while wearing the sporty and fun Star Monrow sweatpants, The embroidered star just above the ankle seems like something a Thai kickboxer might wear — you know, just so your opponent will literally see stars before getting a punishing foot to the face. In other words, there’s a cheekiness to these sweatpants that say “Hey, don’t judge me for slurping ramen and laying face down tonight, because tomorrow I will hunt you down and FILL YOU WITH REGRET.”
4. Vifon Pho Bo (Vietnamese Beef Rice Noodle Soup), $24 (for 25 packs) + Michael Lauren Nate Sweatpant, $75
The folks at Vifon must be an ambitious bunch of people, because real pho — the Vietnamese rice noodle soup — can take days to make. Real pho broth, made of soup bones, ginger, onion and star anise, has to slowly simmer to develop its deep flavor. But Vifon’s Pho Bo is an impressive instant take on the real deal, with a broth that comes to life with impressive strength after having boiled for the required 6-8 minutes. You can up the authenticity factor by adding cilantro, lime and chilies, but that requires effort, which you’ve supposedly run out of. Again, no judgment.
The French legacy in Vietnam and its understated culture makes Vifon’s instant pho pair nicely with these nautical sweatpants by Michael Lauren. These dreamy sweatpants don’t totally scream “I give up.” Instead, it’s like they’re just calmly saying, “I need to look good to feel good … and vice versa.” If it’s any sweatpant that would be equally comfortable at a day out at sea as an afternoon holed up in your house hiding from the neighborhood block party, these pants would be it. And let’s face it — we love multi-purpose clothes, don’t we?
The Prima Taste Curry La Mian is easily the Cadillac of instant ramen. At a relatively pricey $4 per package, these instant ramen might raise an eyebrow as to whether its price betrays the very essence of a cheap, no-fuss dinner. But trust — it’s worth it. A coconut curry noodle soup from Singapore, this instant ramen puts all other instant ramens in the amateur category. The curry coconut soup is spicy and surprisingly creamy, and the noodles are rounded and thick, with a satisfyingly chewy bite. Take a sip of this hot soup and you’ll be instantly transported to the hawker stalls of Southeast Asia.
A high-end instant ramen deserves high-end loungewear, and what better way to say, “I’m a fancy pants lazy butt” than with Melrose and Market’s velvet joggers? The iridescent gray velvet classes up even the rattiest of t-shirts, and sliding yourself into these smooth wonders will leave you feeling part sexy and part therapist. “Come here, Jinx,” you’ll purr to your cat as you smooth out your grandmother’s quilt on the sofa next to you. “Come tell Mama who hurt you today.” You’ll listen and nod graciously as Jinx meows his grievances, the curry la mian broth dribbling down your chin and masterfully disguised by the folds of velvet encasing your thighs.
Myojo Chukazanmai is fancy, champagne-in-the-VIP-room instant ramen, if that can exist. The packaging is sleek and sturdy, and the ramen comes with a dehydrated soup base and a liquid seasoning that, when married together, produce a salty-sweet, shimmering broth superior to typical instant noodle broths. The noodles themselves are springy and absorb tons of the hearty miso flavor. The whole effect is reminiscent of what you’d get at a Japanese ramen stand, minus the waiting in line and crowding yourself elbow-to-elbow against other hungry strangers.
Myojo Chukazanmai’s comforting ramen is the kind to reach for when you’re in the need for a boost, and similarly, so are Puma’s high-rise sweatpants in blush. Surprisingly, there aren’t a ton of sweatpants being offered in the high rise variety, which seems to be a real missed opportunity for retailers. After all, when you’re looking for comfort, why wouldn’t you want the waistband of your pants to reach all the way up to where your bra ends? I call this the “comfortwear infinity loop,” because not only are you held in where it really matters (i.e., all over), but the comfort never stops. The blush color adds a coquettish element to otherwise purely functional loungewear. It’s a way to leave some mystery to your leisure level. “Do those sweatpants really go all the way up to her armpits?” a casual observer might wonder when confronted with blush pink traveling all the way from your ankles to the recesses of your sternum. One can only guess, but you know the truth: it’s yes. Absolutely, yes.