Did Trader Joe's Just Release a Cheaper Momofuku Instant Noodle Dupe?

We did a thorough side-by-side comparison to see if TJ's new noodles are as good as David Chang's fan-favorite ramen noodles.

Trader Joes ramen noodles and momofuku ramen noodles on a green and yellow background
Photo: Trader Joe's/Momofuku/Dotdash Meredith

It's no secret that grocery stores 'white label' or 'private label' products from big brand names. White labelling is the process whereby grocery stores buy products direct from the same manufacturers as big brands, then put their own generic packaging on them in order to sell them at a discount. This is how you end up with 'dupes' (a.k.a. copycats) for brands like Kerrygold and Chobani at stores like Aldi and even Dollar General.

When I'm at Trader Joe's, my favorite grocery store, I'm always on the lookout for new products, and especially ones that look eerily similar to my go-to brands. That's why, when I saw the newest arrivals on TJ's shelves, I was immediately struck by its resemblance to another, much more expensive product.

Trader Joe's newest product is called Squiggly Knife Cut Style Noodles, and upon one look at those wiggly noodles my mind went to Momofuku. If you're not familiar, Momofuku is the restaurant group and brand of celebrity chef David Chang, who introduced his own version of instant ramen noodles back in 2021. The noodles have sold out several times over, and garnered a veritable fan following. Is it possible Trader Joe's is white-labelling these much-hyped noodles? We investigated.

Are Trader Joe's Knife Cut Noodles a Copycat of Momofuku Noodles?

After procuring both noodles and inspecting packaging I found the main difference to be the sauces. TJ's sauce packet describes itself as Soy & Sesame vs. Momofuku's Soy & Scallion. Additionally, Momofuku's noodles come with a second packet of garnish, which is freeze-dried green onion. Momofuku's come 5 noodle packets in one package, whereas Trader Joe's comes with 4. Both noodles are made in Taiwan, according to their packaging.

Side by side of Trader Joes ramen noodles and momofuku ramen noodles.
Courtney Kassel

Trader Joe's noodles (top, in the above photo) are slightly wider than Momofuku's noodles (bottom), as well as slightly wavier. They did have that namesake 'squiggly' effect. The two have similar cooking instructions, although TJ's boil slightly longer (4 vs. 3 minutes). Once cooked and sauced, the other visible difference was that TJ's sauce (right, in the below photo) was slightly redder in color. But let's get to what really matters—how they taste.

Side by side of Trader Joes ramen noodles and momofuku ramen noodles.
Courtney Kassel

Trader Joe's sauce was surprisingly bland, with a little saltiness, but missing the nutty depth of sesame oil. Momofuku's sauce was complex, with notes of sweet, salty, and umami. However, I found Trader Joe's noodles to be far superior. They had more texture due to the wavy, knife-cut style, which helped them cling to the sauce better. After the recommended 3 minutes, Momofuku's noodles were slightly overdone in my opinion, and lacking the same al dente bite of TJ's.

The noodles are undoubtedly different, and confirmed not a 1-1 dupe. However, I have a theory for why they bear so many similarities. I think they're made by the same manufacturer in Taiwan: A-Sha Foods.

What is A-Sha Foods?

A-Sha Foods is a Taiwanese company that specializes in air-dried noodles, a revolutionary process for preserving instant noodles. Rather than frying the noodles, like most instant noodle packets, A-Sha's are air-dried, which makes them lower in fat and calories, and purportedly makes them retain better texture when cooked.

Momofuku openly admits that their noodles are made by A-Sha; the company's logo is even on the packaging. Trader Joe's does not, however by examining the ingredients and packaging, I deduced that they're likely not only made by A-Sha, but an exact dupe for one of A-Sha's most popular products. I think Trader Joe's Squiggly Knife Cut Style Noodles are white-labelled A-Sha Knife Cut Noodles in the Hakka Sesame Oil Scallion flavor.

A-Sha vs. Momofuku vs. Trader Joe's Noodles

A comparison of price reveals the real benefit of white labelling. Here's how all three noodles stack up, price wise:

  • A-Sha Knife Cut Noodles Hakka Sesame Oil Scallion Flavor: 4 packs for $15 (3.75 each)
  • Momofuku Soy & Scallion Noodles: 5 for $13 ($2.60 each)
  • Trader Joe's Squiggly Knife Cut Style Noodles: 4 packs for $5 ($1.25 each)

The Bottom Line

So no, Trader Joe's are not an exact copycat of the Momofuku noodles—it's more like they're from the same family; consider them brother and sister. While I did prefer the taste of the Momofuku sauce, I kept coming back to the TJ's noodles for their superior texture. At their price point, Trader Joe's noodles are an incredible deal, even if they do require a little zhuzh-ing. Add a little bit of TJ's Crunchy Chili Onion (or another chili crisp), some sesame seeds and scallions, and you've got yourself a gourmet bowl of noodles on the cheap!

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