Friday, March 25, 2011

Nissin BIG Cup Noodles Beef Flavor

Made By:  Nissin USA
Tools Required:  Microwave, Spoon
Meal Size (380 calories per package)
Price:  50¢ (sale at Safeway in Woodinville)
Rating:  :b

First off, sorry for the picture quality this time around--I forgot my digital camera at home so I am down to the cellphone camera today.  I found these while doing my normal grocery shopping last week at an "introductory" price; I am a sucker for new stuff I've never seen before so in the cart they went, and I packed them for lunch today.  They are clearly not just a "BIG" version of the regular Cup Noodles, because they are advertised as "Spoonable Noodles and Soup."

There are no included packets, all the seasonings and noodles are loose in the package.  We are supposed to fill with water to the line and microwave for three minutes.  There are hot-water preparation instructions as well, but since they are labelled "Boiling Water Directions" and "Recommended Directions" I decide to go with the microwave.  After three minutes are up, I sit down to eat, only to find that the noodles are still sticky and undercooked, so I put them back in for another minute and a half or so.

The second attempt with fully cooked soup is marginally better, but still leaving quite a bit to be desired.  It is like this product isn't quite sure what it wants to be--the broth isn't the hearty western-style broth from the Nissin Bowl Noodles product, and it isn't the asian-style ramen broth either.  It actually tastes a lot like plain old beef bouillon.  The soup is also kind of plain compared to either the Bowl Noodles or Cup Noodles--the only color in it is some tiny flecks of red (sweet pepper?) and green herbs.

The biggest problem, though, is that this thing is just plain annoying to try to eat.  See, here's the thing, Nissin:  When people eat soup from a cup, they usually like to drink it--that's what the cup is for.  For instance, normally when I eat Cup Noodles, I eat the noodles with my chopsticks and sip the broth straight from the cup.  With these "Spoonable Noodles," that just doesn't work, and my spoon would have worked a lot better in a bowl instead of a cup.  I really don't get how this thing made it out of product testing.

I am starting to wonder why Nissin seems to want to distance themselves from normal Asian-style ramen with all their new offerings--if it really was a Cup Noodle but larger, that would have been way better than this weird-tasting, difficult-to-eat train wreck of a lunch.  Blech. :b

Monday, March 14, 2011

Tai Pei Chicken Fried Rice

Made By:  Discovery Foods (USA)
Tools Required:  Cooler (for storage), Microwave, Chopsticks
Meal Size (570 calories per package)
Price:  $2.00 (sale at Woodinville Safeway)
Rating:  :D

When I started this blog a couple of months ago, I had decided that maybe I would branch out and review some things that weren't strictly "instant noodle" products, but I had pretty much decided that I would stick with things that were shelf-stable as opposed to frozen food products.  That was before I saw a sale on this nifty chinese-take-out style meal; I just had to grab one to try, and so why not share my experience?  {Tentatively, my new rule is probably more like "things that Jessie would eat with chopsticks"--which would actually include almost anything, just so you know.}

Anyway, the preparation is pretty simple on these; you put the frozen box into the microwave for five to six minutes without taking the plastic wrap off or anything, then let it stand for three to five before unwrapping, stirring, and eating.  The plastic wrap has little holes in it for steam ventilation, and it's pretty stretchy--the scissors on my little Victorinox keychain knife came in handy getting the hot package open.  The box had quite a bit of "air space" at the top (it was probably only about 3/4 full) but the package helpfully tells me that this is because frozen rice takes up more room than hot cooked rice does.

I was actually pretty impressed by the flavor of these.  Maybe this means I have been eating instant noodles a bit too often, but I enjoyed having some veggies that hadn't been dehydrated and some actual meat for a change.  The chicken was quite soft, probably from being steamed in the box, but the texture seemed okay otherwise.  The rice is flavored with soy sauce and oyster sauce, and is nicely moist but not too heavy.  This was good enough that I hope they are still on sale--I want to try the other flavors now!  :D

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Nong Shim Kimchi Ramyun

Made By:  Nong Shim America
Tools Required:  Saucepan & Range, Bowl, Spoon & Chopsticks
Meal Size (500 calories per package)
Rating:  :D

(available online through

It is a cold, rainy day here in Woodinville, Washington... some hot, spicy noodles seem like just the thing to counteract the gloomy weather!  I had these Kimchi Ramyun in the noodle stash, and now that I have joined the working class, I'm going to have to have the rest of my stovetop-preparation noodles on days off if I want them.  So with the blessing of my sweetie (who is going to have something else for lunch), here I go!

The package style is very similar to Nong Shim's Shin Ramyun; there is an identical round brick of thick wavy noodles, and two packets--a green foil packet of powder seasoning and a red plastic packet of dried veggies (I noticed cabbage and carrots).  We boil 19-1/2 ounces of water, add the seasoning packets and noodles, and cook for three minutes.  After a quick stir, the noodles go into the bowl and are ready to serve!

The finished product has a strong aroma of cabbage and chili spice; I thought they smelled appetizing, but my partner crinkled her nose a bit.  The flavor is actually quite similar to the Shin Ramyun, just with a little bit different undertones; in addition to the chili spice I am picking up a sweet and tart cabbage and vegetable flavor.  The heat level is also comparable to Shin Ramyun; these are quite spicy although not overwhelming (to me anyway).

I actually thought I preferred the flavor of these over Shin Ramyun; although the spice level is about the same, the sub-flavors here seem to complement the chili spice a bit better.  If you are a fan of spicy Korean ramyun, I would heartily recommend you give these a try. :D

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Maruchan Yakisoba Teriyaki Beef Flavor

Made By:  Maruchan Inc. (USA)
Tools Required:  Microwave, Chopsticks
Meal Size (520 calories per package)
Rating:  :)

(available online at

Today I'm having another 'soupless' noodle; this product is the direct competitor to Nissin's Chow Mein Teriyaki Beef that I reviewed a week ago.  I was actually a bit underimpressed by that one, so we'll see if this one is an improvement.

The package contains the brick of noodles and two packets; there is a packet of dried veggies that we add before cooking, and a packet of powder seasoning that we add at the end.  The noodles themselves are the typical ramen-style thin wavy noodles, unlike the wide flat noodles in the Nissin product.  The instructions are to add water to the fill line and microwave for four minutes.  The powder seasoning seems to stir in fairly easily, and then we are ready to eat!

During cooking, there was a strong aroma of cabbage, and indeed we see that the dried veggies were mainly cabbage bits, along with some carrots, onion, and what looks like tiny mushroom pieces.  Everything rehydrated well, including the noodles; although I did see some spots where the noodles looked a bit white, I didn't notice anything that seemed undercooked as I was eating.  The sauce seemed quite a bit thicker and heartier than that of the Nissin product, and it coated the noodles nicely; the flavor was a pleasant sweet and savory taste that kind of reminded me of hoisin sauce.

At the end after I had eaten all the noodles, there was a little bit of sauce and vegetable bits left over in the tray, so I got out a spoon so I wouldn't have to waste any.  I guess that means I liked it. :)

Monday, March 7, 2011

Nissin Bowl Noodles Rich & Savory Beef Flavor

Made By:  Nissin USA
Tools Required:  Microwave, Spoon
Meal Size (440 calories per package)
Rating:  :)

(available online through

Today's noodle is another domestic product--what can I say, I haven't been to Uwajimaya in a while.  I'm trying out one of Nissin's "Bowl Noodles" products, which look to be a heartier offshoot of their Cup Noodles.  The package mentions that these are "Spoonable Noodles," so presumably that means we won't need chopsticks or a fork to eat these, just our spoon.  Something about the packaging makes me expect a western-style flavor, so we'll see what we have.

The bowl contains the noodles and one green foil packet which contains both the powdered soup base and all the dried veggies.  There is also a small white plastic packet of liquid "Soup Booster," but strangely it is packaged underneath the bowl inside the plastic outer wrap.  It seems like it would be easy to lose that, and I plan to check to make sure it is there when I buy this style in the future.  The noodles are not in a brick form, but are short pieces of loose pasta.  (Oh, maybe they were worried about the little packet getting buried in the noodles?)  They don't seem to be the same type of pasta as typical ramen at all, they look more like an egg noodle.  Anyway, we are to open the foil seasoning packet and add it to the bowl, fill to the line with water, and microwave for three minutes, then add the Soup Booster (which looked like vegetable oil with some meat grease floating in it) last.

The aroma is reminiscent of a typical Midwestern-style beef stew; the noodles softened up to about the consistency you might find in a Campbell's Chunky soup and the veggies turned out to be corn, cabbage, carrots, and green beans.  The noodles are definitely egg noodles rather than ramen, and the broth tastes much like it smells--it is a beef and onion stock, with maybe a hint of tomato sweetness along with the other vegetables. 

There is definitely nothing Asian about this product, so it's not really ramen at all; if you were expecting a heartier version of their beef Cup Noodles, I imagine it would be a disappointment, or at least a surprise.  If you go into it with the right expectations, though, it really is a pretty good bowl of beef & noodle soup.  I approve. :)

Friday, March 4, 2011

Katsuobushi Udon Japanese-Style Noodle Soup

Made By:  ChoripDong (Korea)
Tools Required:  Hot Water, Microwave, Spoon & Chopsticks
Meal Size (365 calories per package)
Rating:  ^_^
Today I am sampling another not-really-ramen asian soup, and having some udon!  This is a bowl product made by a Korean company I hadn't heard of before grabbing this, so we'll see how they stack up to the likes of the mighty Nong Shim.

Inside the bowl, there are three packets; we have the pack of fresh udon noodles, a clear packet of liquid soup base, and a foil packet of "Flake Soup" with various dehydrated goodies.  The instructions are an unusual combination of hot water and microwave preparation; we are supposed to put the noodles and liquid soup into the bowl and add boiling water to the fill line, then we put it in the microwave for three minutes.  (For those without access to both a teakettle and a microwave, there are alternate instructions which say to use cold water and then microwave for six minutes.)  Once it comes out, the instructions say to "add the enclosed flake soup to the number 3 and mix it well."  I am not sure exactly what this means, so I just dump them into the bowl and stir.

These turn out to be extremely similar to the Nong Shim Japanese-style Udon that I love so much.  The udon is a nice thick hearty texture, possibly a bit softer than the Nong Shim but very appealing.  The broth is the same seafood-and-soy savory fish stock, and even the dried add-ins are almost the same; there are green onion flakes, a few imitation seafood slices (which are smaller and less generous than in the Nong Shim product) and lots of those fish-flavored rice cereal bits.  This product also includes a few little rings of chili pepper; unfortunately, they never do rehydrate into anything and so those don't add much of anything except a textural distraction.  I actually crunched one on purpose to see if I could get any heat out of it, without any success.  Overall, though, I would say this is a worthy competitor to the Nong Shim product, and in fact the easier preparation might give this one the edge over Nong Shim's bowl Udon (but not the packet style).  I loved them!  ^_^

{Because I am an airhead, I totally forgot to take a picture of the prepared noodles before I ate them all.  I plan to grab another one of these the next time I see them at Uwajimaya, though, so I will add one the next time I have the opportunity.}

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Nissin Chow Mein Beef Teriyaki Flavor

Made By:  Nissin USA
Tools Required:  Microwave, Chopsticks
Large Meal Size (520 calories per package)
Rating:  :|

(available online through

Today I'm having another "grocery store" domestic product, the Beef Teriyaki Chow Mein from Nissin.  These non-soup style noodles can be a nice change of pace from the soup products, and even at $1 they are a fairly economical lunch.  Let's see how they turn out!

Inside the package, we find a brick of not-quite-ramen-style noodles; they are flat instead of wavy, and look to be a bit thicker than the average.  There is also a packet of dried "Premium Ingredients" and a "Liquid Seasoning" packet.  I am a little surprised not to find a powdered seasoning packet inside, but the directions don't mention one, so there's really not supposed to be one, I don't guess.  We empty the dried goodies into the tray with the noodles, add a bit of water up to the fill line, and microwave for five minutes; after cooking, we stir in the liquid seasoning, which does have the advantage of stirring in much more easily than some of the powdered ones.  Time to eat!

The noodles do stay a nice texture and are cooked evenly (which is never a given with this particular style of packaging).  The dried bits turned out to be carrots, onions, green onion, and imitation beef bits, which rehydrated acceptably well though the carrots still look a bit shriveled.  Unfortunately, I can't say there was much of anything in the "Premium Ingredients" that contributed much to the flavor, I think they are mainly for show.  The sauce is quite thin and has  a very light, almost watered-down flavor; I think it could have been better if the sauce was a bit thicker and more hearty.  I guess maybe that means I would have preferred a powdered seasoning?  Oh well.

Anyway, I'm not going to say these were bad, just pretty average.  I would probably consider getting it again if it were still on sale, but I imagine I would be more likely to try the other flavors and brands first. :|