Monday, July 25, 2011

Sapporo Ichiban Original Flavored Soup

Made By:  Sanyo Foods (USA)
Tools Required:  Saucepan & Range
480 calories per package

Rating:  :)

(Available online through

Apologies for the hiatus; the new puppy was consuming a little more time than I expected.  He is settling in nicely now though, so it is time for some more noodles!  Today I am reviewing some noodles in what I refer to as the "pseudo-import" category--although made in the USA, they are typically found in the international foods section of the store and at asian markets, instead of being alongside the domestic brands like Nissin and Maruchan.  This particular brand has the reputation of being the "gateway noodle" for people who are a bit bored out with the domestic stuff and are ready to start exploring the higher-end import range.

Inside the package, we have our block of noodles, and just one foil packet of soup base--looks like we're keeping it simple for the new gourmet-noodle converts.  The preparation directions are simple as well; we boil two cups of water, add the noodles and cook for three minutes, then stir in the soup base and serve.  Despite not having a separate veggie packet, the soup does have some color in it, in the form of what looks like green onion flecks.  There also appears to be a lot of noodles for the amount of broth, compared to Top Ramen.  Time to give them a taste!

The noodles seem a bit soft, although maybe not as much so as the typical domestic noodle--I would stop a little short of calling them mushy.  The broth has a very nice flavor, especially compared to Top Ramen Oriental Flavor; there is a deep savory soy-and-onion flavor, along with a touch of ginger and garlic, and maybe a 'dark' flavor like beef or caramelized onion.  The meal size is a bit larger than the domestic noodles as well, though I disagree with the package that there are three servings present.  I would definitely say that these are a step up from Top Ramen!  If you are looking for a simple, comforting noodle soup, this definitely wouldn't be a bad pick. :)

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Hormel Compleats Turkey & Dressing

Made By:  Hormel Foods
Tools Required:  Microwave, sharp object
290 calories per package

Rating:  :\

(Available online through

Today my sweetie and I are having an extra-convenient lunch because we are caring for a new puppy!  We have added an eight-week-old German Shepherd to our family.  So far, we have enjoyed the two varieties of these Hormel Compleats meals we have tried; let's see if the third one follows the trend.

The preparation is exactly the same as the other Compleats meals, but I will repeat it here for convenience:  we remove the paperboard overwrap, poke holes in the film or otherwise make a steam vent, microwave for 90 seconds, then let stand for one minute. 

Upon removing the film, we are greeted with two discs of turkey meat on top of an oblong cake of dressing, with the balance of the tray filled with gravy.  I note that this one shares the unphotogenic qualities of the Roast Beef meal, so I moved the meat to one side and tried to stir up some of the dressing for a more representative picture.  The meat doesn't really seem like 'real' roast turkey (as if the shape didn't give that away), the texture is fairly soft--it's basically that chopped-and-formed turkey loaf product that gets served in school cafeterias around Thanksgiving.  The dressing does have some chunks of celery in it, but is otherwise pretty bland and uninteresting, and the gravy is of the 'canned' variety.

Probably about the most positive thing I can say about this meal is that it was fairly easy to eat with chopsticks.  The flavor wasn't awful, but I don't know too many people who get excited about lunchroom fare.  It just seems so much more plain and processed than the other Compleats meals I've reviewed, that I'm going to have to call this one a letdown.  :\

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Shirakiku Sanukiya Udon Shrimp Flavor

Distributed By:  Nishimoto Trading Co. (USA)
Tools Required:  Saucepan & Range (or Microwave), Water, Sharp object
250 calories per package

Rating:  :)

(available online through

Today I am having another "Japanese-style" breakfast!  I decided to do some actual Japanese-style noodles and have a pack of this udon soup that my partner picked up at our local World Market.  I notice a couple of things about it just from the package; despite being portrayed as an import product, it is a product of the USA (though the specific manufacturer isn't mentioned).  Also, despite having "No MSG Added", one of the top three ingredients in the soup base is hydrolyzed vegetable protein, which contains a lot of it.  It's not like the Ramen Butterfly worries about her MSG intake personally, of course; I'm just saying, if they add something that has MSG in it, that's a lot like adding MSG.  It'd be better to be honest about it, in my opinion.

Anyway, inside the package we have a fresh-pack of udon noodles, and a plain-looking soup base packet.  We are supposed to bring 1-3/4 cups of water to a boil, add the noodles for two minutes, then stir in the seasoning at the end.  I ended up needing scissors to open the noodles, the package didn't seem to have a notch to tear with, so that was a little inconvenient.  As soon as I add the flavoring, I get a nice savory aroma.  Let's give them a try!

The noodles have a really good texture; they are slightly firm, yet soft and doughy, sort of dumpling-like.  The flavor is okay too; I was a little apprehensive when I saw the disclaimer on the package that the noodles have a "naturally sour flavor," but if anything they seem a bit milder than the Nong Shim udon noodles.  The broth is plain, without any herbs or vegetables added, and it has a very light, savory flavor.  It reminds me quite a bit of a Top Ramen shrimp flavor, actually, but it tastes a bit cleaner somehow.  Maybe the difference is just the better quality noodles, but I liked it quite a bit, especially for breakfast.  For lunch, I think I might want to 'soup it up' with some add-in ingredients--maybe some tiny shrimp and green onions, or something like that--but I think it turned out to be a pretty good value, and a pretty good meal.  :)

Friday, July 8, 2011

Hormel Compleats Roast Beef & Gravy

Made By:  Hormel Foods
Tools Required:  Microwave, Sharp object
220 calories per package

Rating:  :)

(Available online through

Okay, I found something that is probably even more all-American than Roast Chicken Yakisoba--meat and potatoes!  Today I am going to try this Hormel Compleats Roast Beef & Gravy entrĂ©e.  The other Hormel Compleats meal I reviewed turned out to be pretty good, so I am interested to see if we can make it a trend.

Preparation consists of taking off the cardboard overwrap, poking some vent holes in the top film of the tray with our handy paring knife, and then microwaving for 90 seconds.  It doesn't get too much easier than that!  Unless, of course, you didn't bring a sharp knife... but even then, I imagine you could peel up the corner of the film instead and be just fine.  I give mine the optional one-minute rest time in the microwave, because I hate cold spots in my potatoes, and then we rip off the film and get ready to eat!

Well, it doesn't exactly photograph that well, but it did look okay in person.  Inside the tray, we find a couple of thin (1/8" or so) slices of beef on a bed of mashed potatoes, covered with enough beef gravy to finish filling the tray.  The meat has a surprisingly good texture; it is firm to the bite, yet tender and marbled well enough to separate easily.  The gravy has a nice homestyle flavor, better than most canned brown gravies; it tastes like a pan gravy you might make from roast beef drippings.  The potatoes are nicely firm as well, and  the flavor is nice; mixed with the gravy, they have that "pot-roasted" beefy flavor as if the potatoes were really cooked alongside the beef in your oven.

I thought this was quite good!  Hormel is two-for-two now; I am coming away with the impression that these Compleats meals are fairly high-quality convenience products.  They'll never replace instant noodles, of course, but this one has my recommendation.  :)

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Maruchan Yakisoba Roast Chicken Flavor

Made By:  Maruchan, Inc. (USA)
Tools Required:  Microwave, Water (around 1c)
520 calories per package

Rating:  :|

(Available online through

Happy belated Fourth of July to my fellow Americans!  I know it isn't too late to mention the holiday, because people are still setting off firecrackers in my neighborhood as of just a few hours ago.  As for me, I plan to celebrate the Independence holiday week by firing up some yummy noodles!  I picked this Yakisoba noodle from Maruchan--what could be more all-American than roast chicken, right?

Inside the package, we find our ramen-style noodles and two packets; there is a dried-veggie packet that contains corn, peas, cabbage, red pepper bits, and onion flakes, and then we have our packet of powdered seasoning.  We are supposed to add the dry veggies in the space around the noodles (so they will be in the water), fill to the line, and microwave for four minutes.  After letting it stand for one minute, we remove it from the microwave, peel off the lid, and add the seasoning packet, which stirs in fairly easily.  It looks good!

The noodles are okay; I think they have a slightly softer texture than the competing Chow Mein line from Nissin, but they don't seem too mushy or sticky or anything.  The flavor is a bit sweeter than I thought it would be; I remember having had a Maruchan "Instant Lunch" cup noodle in Roast Chicken flavor, and it was a richer, heartier version of their normal Chicken flavor.  This one seems more like it's a light version of their Teriyaki flavor--like they mixed a teriyaki chicken with a savory chicken flavor.  Or maybe it's a honey-glazed chicken flavor?  It's sort of odd, actually.  The veggies do seem flavorful, but for some reason they seem to want to sink straight to the bottom instead of staying mixed into the noodles.  I tried to keep them stirred in, but I still ended up with a big pile of corn and cabbage at the end.

Don't get me wrong, the flavor wasn't bad, and these noodles were enjoyable.  However, I think most of the time, I will be choosing either a plain chicken flavor or a Teriyaki flavor, instead of this slightly unusual cross between the two. :|

Saturday, July 2, 2011

FF Tom Yum Seafood Creamy Flavor

Made By:  Fashion Food Co. (Thailand)
Tools Required:  Hot water, sharp object
270 calories per package

Rating:  :)

(available through

My sweetie told me I should have a "Japanese-style" breakfast this morning, which is her way of saying she's going to sleep in and I can eat noodle soup for breakfast.  I picked this Tom Yum Seafood bowl from Fashion Food, since the portion size is fairly small and I won't be ruining our 'real' breakfast later.  I've had this one in the cabinet for a while and I've been avoiding it for some reason; maybe the "Fashion Food" name gives me the feeling that the presentation took precedence over quality or something.  Anyway, this seems like the perfect time, so let's open it up and see what's in there!

I ended up needing a knife to open the shrink wrap; not a real problem but good to know if I were packing this for lunch.  (I also nearly destroyed the instructions by tearing the shrinkwrap off.)  Once we get in there, we find an inner liner that contains our dark-colored brick ramen noodles, a packet of powdered seasoning, and a packet of orange oil.  There is also a small pack of dried seafood and veggies, and another one of those silly little forks which I shall ignore.  We put all of our ingredients into the bowl, fill to the line with "bowling" water, and put the lid on for three minutes.  Once the time is up, I give it a stir, and notice that the noodles seem to resist separating out of their block shape, which is unusual.  I eventually get it all stirred up and photogenic, though.

The noodles are firm and flavorful; they are very similar in color and texture to the ramen-style noodles made by MAMA brand, also from Thailand.  The broth is significantly spicy, and unlike the MAMA products, the chili powder is not packaged separately, so there wouldn't be any good way for someone to 'tone it down' if they didn't want that much heat.  The flavor is nice, though; it seems comparable to the MAMA Shrimp Tom Yum, with the addition of the seafood bits.  One thing that might be a positive about not having the chili powder separately is that the broth does seem a little less grainy once we get down to the bottom of the bowl.

I did enjoy this one, although I can't help thinking the fancy bowl and fork were wasted on me.  Since the purchase price of these is roughly triple that of the MAMA packet-style product, I think that one would get the nod from me over this one.  :|