Friday, September 30, 2011

Little Cook Instant Noodles Stewed Duck Flavor

Made By:  Namchow (Thailand), Ltd.
Extra Ingredients Required:  Boiling Water
500 calories per package

Today is another Noodle Day--I am home waiting for our new appliances to be delivered!  I am pretty excited; the last time I had brand-new appliances was when I got a brand-new house that came with them, and that was quite a few years ago.  Because I don't want to get a bunch of cookware dirty right before installing a new cookstove, I am going to have this Bowl Noodle I picked up last time I was at Uwajimaya.  I hadn't heard of the brand before, but the flavor sounded interesting so I thought I'd see how they were!

Inside the bowl, there are some wide-cut ramen noodles, a packet that contains both powdered seasoning and some dry veggies, and most interestingly, a vacuum-sealed foil retort pouch with some sort of fresh sauce in it.  Preparation is pretty easy; we add the contents of the dry packet and fill the bowl to the line with boiling water, place the retort pouch on top of the lid, and wait for three minutes.  Putting the pouch on top has the dual purpose of holding the lid closed and warming up the pouch, so that part actually seemed sort of clever.  Finally, we add the contents of the pouch--which contains a couple of large chunks of actual duck meat in a sweet curry sauce!  I was not expecting meat in the pouch, for some reason.  We stir it all together, and sit down to eat!

The broth doesn't end up tasting as sweet as the sauce packet smelled; the curry spice is the primary flavor, and there is a nice balance between sweet and savory going on.  The noodles have a nice texture, but are fairly unremarkable otherwise, and the veggies are mostly green onion bits and some sort of leafy herb I don't actually recognize.  The bits of stewed duck meat are a nice addition; their texture is soft but not overly mushy, and they are very flavorful, probably from being stewed in the curry sauce.

I have to say, I really enjoyed this!  I liked the use of the retort pouch to include some actual meat toppings in the product, and I thought the flavor was very interesting.  I like that it is spicy in a different way than just adding chili powder for heat like so many other ramen products.  The serving size is quite generous too, so it makes a good meal without having any chips or sides to go with.  I wish I had gotten other flavors to try too!  I guess it will give me something to look for next time I go noodle shopping. :D

UPDATE:  The last time I saw this in the store (after my experience with the TVP Curry 'Chicken' flavor), I checked the ingredients list and saw that there was in fact no actual duck meat included in this product.  I'm unsure whether this is a change, or if the TVP 'meat' was just that much better in this one.  Maybe someday I'll build the courage to find out.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Mama JokCup Instant Porridge Soup Artificial Chicken Flavor

Made By:  President Rice Products
Tools Required:  Hot Water
150 calories per package

(available online through

I grabbed one of these Chicken Porridge cups when I was at Uwajimaya just because it seemed unusual enough to make an interesting review.  I've been procrastinating actually tasting it, because there is part of me that thinks it has the potential to be really bad, but I was in the mood for an afternoon snack today and this seemed an appropriate size.  Here goes nothing!

The very first line in the directions say to peel the lid back halfway, but I run into an obstacle when the lid rips instead of peeling.  Once the lid is off, I see there is a cute little soup spoon included, which wasn't mentioned anywhere on the packaging.  I also see a powdery stuff in the bottom of the cup that reminds me of instant potato flakes.  We add boiling water to the fill line and give a stir, then cover and stir again once per minute for three or four minutes.  The finished product is a sort of sickly-looking milky white broth with some herbs floating in it.  I didn't actually expect a Porridge Soup to look all that appealing, though, so I'm not too put off just yet.

The texture is a bit like a really thin Cream of Wheat cereal; I think I expected it to get a little thicker, but at least that means it is sippable--I started off using the little spoon, but eventually I decided just sipping from the cup was easier.  The flavor seems to be somewhere between a Campbell's-style chicken and rice soup, and asian egg-drop soup.  The occasional sip has a chunk of dried ginger in it, which seems out of place both texturally and flavor-wise, but other than that, it really wasn't all that bad.  I'm not sure it warrants a re-purchase unless I was on a semi-liquid diet or something, but I didn't hate it. :|

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Myojo Hyoubanya no Yakisoba Japanese Noodles Sauce Flavor

Made By:  Myojo Foods Co. Ltd.
Tools Required:  Hot Water, utensils
500 calories per package

(available online through

Today is finally another Noodle Day again!  I didn't really want soup, though, so I picked this Yakisoba noodle from Myojo.  I really liked the other Myojo yakisoba I tried, so I am hoping this one will be good too.  The flavor on the package is only described as "Sauce Flavor," unless "Hyoubanya" is a flavor description; anyway, neither of those really help me know what sort of thing I'm about to be tasting.  I aim to find out, though!
{Update 6/7/15:  I've learned that Hyoubanya is in fact the brand name of the product line; the kanji that form the name would probably mean something like "food critic's seal."  Also, the description of 'sauce' flavor is referring to the ubiquitous-in-Japan Bull-Dog sauce, which would be similar to (but not the same as) our worcestershire sauce or 'steak sauce.'

Inside the package are four seasoning packets, and of course our block of noodles.  The packets don't shed much more light on the type of "Sauce" the flavor is going to be; the only one that has any english text on it is the "DRY VEGETABLE" packet.  The other three contain a liquid sauce, a powdered soup base, and a small amount of "green laver" style seaweed mixed with something that looks like katsuo-bushi [shaved dried smoked fish].  We are supposed to add the dry veggies (mainly cabbage and onion), fill the tray with boiling water, close and let stand for three minutes, then drain with the convenient built-in drain spout before peeling the lid the rest of the way off.  Finally, we add the contents of the other three packets, stir well, and serve!

As I mentioned in the review of the other Myojo yakisoba, I do love the noodle texture.  I am actually sort of concerned that they will make it difficult to go back to the domestic ones.  (Of course, an easy solution to that problem would be to just buy the Myojo noodles.)  I'm still not going to be able to put a name to the "sauce" that these are supposed to be flavored like, but it reminds me quite a bit of the flavor of the Nong Shim Japanese-Style Udon.  It is a bit smokier and spicier than those, but it has that same deep savory seafood flavor.  I think in terms of ranking, I will still have to give the nod to the Ippeichan Yakisoba--although very good, these just aren't as quite as decadent--but these are pretty high up on the list too. :)

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Shirakiku Ramune Drink

Distributed by:  Nishimoto Trading Co. (Product of Japan)
90 calories per bottle (6.76 oz.)

I've seen these Japanese soft drinks around and really never paid much attention to them; I kind of figured they were one of those "Japanophile" fad things.  Uwajimaya had them on sale for $1 a bottle, though, so I figured what the heck, right?  They fit the theme of the blog better than some of the
things I've reviewed.

Even before tasting any of the flavors, I have the distinct impression that the selling point is the novelty packaging and not the drink--I don't think nearly as many people would give $1-$2 for less than seven ounces of soda if it didn't come in a Codd bottle, so I'll describe and review the bottle design separately first.  The bottle is sealed with a glass marble which is held against a rubber seal by the pressure in the bottle; the 'cap' on top is actually a small plunger which you use to push down on the marble, thus releasing the pressure and dropping the marble into the specially-shaped neck.  It takes a surprising amount of force to shove the marble off of the seal, and if you stop pushing before you get it all the way down, the marble pops right back up to the top and you have to start over.  Success is rewarded with a clinking noise and a puff of fizz as the marble is forcefully ejected into the drink.  I have to admit, the marble gimmick is kind of fun, albeit in a nerdy-feeling sort of way. ^_^

Now for the actual flavors...
  • Pineapple is very sweet and the fruit flavor is subtle; I think it probably tastes more like pineapple-flavor Life Savers than actual pineapple.  :|
  • Melon is fairly refreshing; still a little bit overly sweet, but not a bad rendition of a melon flavor otherwise. :)
  • Grape is really average.  If it were poured into a glass, I don't think I could distinguish it from a store-brand grape soda.  :|
  • Lychee is definitely the best of the first four I picked; it's not as syrupy as the others, and the fruit flavor is nicely well rounded, with a slight peppery finish.  I really should find a lychee fruit to sample one of these days so I can compare, but I definitely enjoyed this one. :)
So overall, I would say that my first impression (that the marble gimmick is the selling point) seems to have held true, although some of the flavors are good enough for a re-purchase.  But hey, it wouldn't be the first time I paid extra for neat packaging.  There really is something fun about the marble-neck bottles--they made me smile every time I popped one open, and that should be worth something. ^_^

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Doll Instant Noodle Shrimp Wonton Flavor

Made By:  Winner Food Products Ltd. (Hong Kong)
Tools Required:  Saucepan & Range, Water, Bowl & utensils
440 calories per package

(Available online through

I like to try to find flavors that sound unique and interesting, but often, I choose certain products to purchase and review simply because they amuse me.  This Doll brand ramen is a Shrimp Wonton flavor, which sounds sort of interesting, although I don't really know how "wonton" would translate into a soup flavor and I expect it to just taste like shrimp.  But, the emblem in the bottom corner declaring "Yummy" is sort of funny to me, and when I flipped the package over to discover that the maker is Winner Food Products, it became a must-try.  A Winner is you!

Anyway, inside the package are a block of slightly-thinner-than-average ramen noodles, and a single dry soup base packet.  It seems a bit basic, but you can't always judge the flavor by the number of seasoning packets, so I'm keeping an open mind.  Instructions are to add the noodles to 500ml (roughly 2 cups) of boiling water, simmer for three minutes, then stir in the soup base and serve.  Nothing out of the ordinary there, so we are ready to move on to the tasting!

First, though, I can't help but notice that for an imported ramen, these have some seriously plain-looking broth.  I stirred a bit and did eventually see a green herb flake lurking in there (dehydrated leek, according to the ingredient list), but otherwise it is just pale noodles floating in pale broth.  Well, you can't always judge the flavor by the color of the broth, either, I guess.

The flavor of the broth is actually quite good!  It really does have a taste that is reminiscent of fried wonton among the seafood notes.  It's a pretty accurate rendition of a wonton soup flavor.  The noodles don't have a bad texture either; being as thin as they are, they don't stay as firm as some, but they don't seem soggy or sticky.  I am pleasantly surprised, and I thoroughly enjoyed these noodles.  Looks like they really are a Winner after all!  :D

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Elisha Aerated Water

Made By:  Xiamen Elisha Mineral Water Co. (PRC)
80 calories per can (12.3 fl. oz.)

I think these caught my eye because of the cool transparent aluminum cans they come in.  [Okay, fine, they're actually plastic.  It still looks cool though.]  They are somewhere between a flavored water and a soda; they are lightly carbonated, just enough to give a little 'sparkle' on the tongue but little enough that there aren't a lot of visible bubbles inside the can.

Lychee is very cool, crisp, and refreshing; it does a good job of capturing the essence of the mildly citrusy, almost nutty flavor.  Sweet, but not too sweet to be refreshing.  I enjoyed it a lot! :D

Peach is very peachy--I can practically taste the peach fuzz!  Sweetened enough to avoid being tart, but far from being syrupy.  Another good flavor! :D

I will definitely be getting more of these--I am pretty sure I prefer these over the normal everyday carbonated soft drinks.  When I do, I will probably update this review with my impressions of the other flavors.  So far, I am really impressed!

Monday, September 5, 2011

Indomie Soto Mie Flavour Instant Noodles

Made By:  Indofood
Tools Required:  Saucepan & Range, Bowl & Utensils
380 calories per package

(available online through

Today's noodle is from Indomie; they are better known for their "Mi Goreng" line of brothless noodle products, but this one is a noodle soup.  When I picked this one up, I wasn't actually familiar with what a "Soto Mie" actually is, but a quick Google search reveals that it is a type of traditional Indonesian noodle soup.

The package includes a block of fairly standard-looking ramen, a packet of seasoning oil, and a foil double-packet with powdered soup base on one side and chili powder separately in the other.  We boil 400 ml (or roughly 1-3/4 cups) of water and simmer the noodles for three minutes; meanwhile, we are supposed to mix the seasoning oil and powders into a paste in our bowl.  I still don't completely get the point of pre-mixing the seasonings for a soup product, honestly, I suspect those directions are left over from the Mi Goreng products, but for the sake of science I follow the directions faithfully.  We add the cooked noodles and water into the bowl, and I am treated to a nice curry-like aroma.  I have a good feeling about these!

The noodles themselves are pretty average, a little firmer but also a little stickier than normal; they aren't off-putting, but they aren't the selling point.  The broth has a very nice flavor; with the full chili packet added, it is just spicy enough to be interesting, and there is a nicely sweet, citrussy curry flavor.  I think I actually prefer the flavor of this one to the Chicken Curry flavor; the flavor of this one is actually much more reminiscent of what I think of as curry.  With the fairly mild spice level, it sort of feels like a comfort food to me.  I wish the noodles had a more appealing texture, but otherwise this one was very enjoyable!  :)

Friday, September 2, 2011

Roxy Crab Chips

Distributed by Roxy Trading Inc. (Product of Japan)
140 calories per 1 oz. serving

Usually when I get to an asian grocery to shop for noodles, I also end up bringing home a few imported snacks and things that I can't buy locally, for novelty and variety.  These Crab Chips caught my eye, I think mainly because of the coloring of the chips; they are stark white (probably even whiter in person than the picture makes it look) with little red flecks, presumably to suggest the appearance of crab meat.

Unfortunately, the appearance is the only thing that is suggestive of crab meat--there is absolutely no detectable crab or seafood flavor whatsoever.  The flavor did seem familiar though, and it actually took me most of the way through one serving to figure out what they taste like.  So here it is:  They taste like fried wonton sheet.  You know, like those little crispy strips they give you at chinese restaurants to put in your egg drop soup?  That's just what this tastes like.  So if you happen to want a whole bag of those, except shaped like little discs and decorated like crab for some reason, you are in luck if you find a bag of these.  Otherwise, I tried them for you so you don't have to. :\

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Myojo Ippeichan Yomise-no Yakisoba

Made By:  Myojo Foods Co. Ltd. (Japan)
Tools Required:  Hot Water, utensils
610 calories per package

(available online through

Where yesterday's noodle packaging seemed to want to imply a traditional dish, today I am choosing this one that looks like it wants to be more of a modern diner or "fast food" fare; the garishly colored package depicts condiment bottles and what looks to be a sleeve of french fries.  This one looks like it's going to be a lot of fun, so let's get right into it!

There is a block of dark colored noodles, and a wide assortment of flavor packets:  one with dried vegetables, a liquid sauce and powdered 'spice', and one which is colorfully labelled Mustard Mayonnaise.  Unlike all domestic Yakisoba or Chow Mein, rather than using our microwave, these use a hot water preparation; we add the dried vegetables and fill the tray with boiling water, wait three minutes, and then peel off the tab on the drain spout and drain the noodles from the corner that is still sealed.  The design works remarkably well!  I was able to drain virtually all of the water, and the lid stayed very securely attached.  After draining, we are supposed to add the sauce, which sort of smells like steak sauce, and the spice powder, which turns out to be a deep green color, stir them in, and then top with the mustard-mayo.  The finished product turns out to be very fun-looking and the aroma kind of reminds me of sitting in a McDonalds.  This should be interesting!

The noodle texture is wonderful!  They are very soft and tender, and separate easily without much clumping.  The flavor almost defies description, honestly... between the mayonnaise and mustard flavor of the topping, the tartness of the sauce (which according to the ingredients panel was mostly Worcestershire sauce), and the savory spice flavors, it really does seem like the noodle version of eating a nice juicy burger.  The only thing that seems even slightly out of place are the cabbage bits from the veggie packet, but they don't really detract either.

These are incredibly delicious, and in an insidiously addictive way--I am already wishing I could have some more.  I predict that I will be grabbing several of these each time I go to the asian grocery, and I could even see myself making a special trip if I got to craving them.  They feel like a guilty pleasure, but with emphasis on the word pleasure.  More, please!  ^_^