Sunday, August 25, 2013

Maruchan Instant Lunch Roast Chicken Flavor

Made By:  Maruchan Inc. [USA]
Required to Prepare:  Hot Water (10 oz.)
290 calories per serving

Available online through

It occurs to me that I have done very few reviews of cup noodles, which is kind of a shame, since I think for convenience and versatility they're really hard to beat--add some chips and some fruit on the side, and they're a really easy lunch; have them by themselves and they're a great afternoon snack.  If you have access to either a water cooler with a hot-water tap or a single-cup coffee maker that can dispense hot water, there is literally no cooking required.

This flavor used to be one of my favorites when I lived in Maruchan country [Missouri], and I hadn't found it again since moving to Nissin territory [Seattle area].  So when I found a good selection of Maruchan products at the local WinCo (for 28¢ a cup!) I had to grab a few for review!  As I mentioned above, preparation is as simple as adding 10 oz. of boiling or nearly-boiling water (to the fill line) and waiting three minutes.  Time for a noodle break!

I don't know if the noodle texture of Instant Lunch has improved, or if I just didn't remember how good they were, but I do actually prefer the noodles here to the domestic 'packet' noodles that tend to be soft and soggy.  I remember liking the broth, but I didn't remember details; it's a nice chicken-stock flavor, but with a hint of cumin that gives it a little depth.  The corn rehydrates a little better than the carrot bits, but both provide a nice little pop of sweetness to contrast the salty-savory broth.  I enjoyed it!  I think I might be having some more "cup noodle breaks" in the near future. :)

Monday, July 22, 2013

Lowrey's Bacon Curls Original Microwave Pork Rinds

Made By:  Oberto Sausage Co. [USA]
Required to Prepare:  Microwave
210 calories per package

(Available online through

Due to the new work situation, I have had a bit fewer opportunities to enjoy (and thus review) ramen.  Who knew company-paid lunches could be a bad thing, right?  The reviews must go on, though, so today I will talk about low-carb snacks.

One thing I remember from my childhood is that my grandfather's favorite snack food was pork rinds.  He would usually have a bag next to his recliner, and he would share with the grandkids when we came to visit.  Maybe because of that memory, they are also a favorite snack food of mine, although I don't know if I've ever found a brand that tastes as good as what I remember him having.  So when I heard about these microwave pork rinds, made locally here in the Pacific Northwest by Oberto in Kent, WA, I knew I had to give them a try!

Preparation is both simple to anyone who's made microwave popcorn, and also slightly different.  The package cautions us to shake up the unpuffed pork rinds after unfolding the bag (to spread them out), and also has dire warnings about how it doesn't make popping noises like popcorn does and to watch the microwave like a hawk while cooking.  All I know is, with my older microwave, I can cook a bag for 2:10 and it turns out perfect every time without worrying about burning anything up.  (Your wattage may vary, naturally).  The bag inflates fully, like popcorn, but then deflates once cooking is done and the steam re-condenses--one package produces the amount pictured in the bowl.

The flavor is salty and sort of bacon-y, a lot like you would expect if you know what pork rinds taste like.  However, these will be the freshest pork rinds you've ever had; they are still snapping and crackling while you start to eat them, and I must say, fresh, hot pork rinds are a more memorable experience than cold ones out of a bag.  If you dislike the flavor of regular pork rinds, I doubt you'd like these either.  But if you do like them, I heartily recommend these, and I imagine you will have trouble going back to "pre-puffed" after tasting them. ^_^

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Achievements for Shopping?

I'm going to take a small diversion from my normal review format to share something that's got me all excited recently.  I've recently joined the "modern age" and gotten a smartphone, and one of the new things I can do with it is to save money on shopping!  There's this app called Ibotta which you can use to earn money back from manufacturers for purchasing items from most popular retailers.

I've been having a stupid amount of fun doing it--it's kind of like a real-life scavenger hunt game.  You "complete tasks" in the app by doing things like reading facts, answering multiple-choice questions, watching videos, or sharing product info on Facebook/Twitter, which earns you credit toward your purchase of that product.  After purchasing, you take a picture of your receipt, and the credit goes into your account where you can cash it out to your PayPal!

The real fun part comes in when you start collecting Bonuses.  I don't know how many of my readers are video gamers, but if you're familiar with the concept of XBox Live or Steam "achievements", or PSN "Trophies", the Bonuses are like that, except for shopping instead of gaming!  Some of the Bonuses are even worth real bonus money in your account!  As an example, right now there is a pair of "Target Freezin'" Bonuses--for the first one, when I cashed in three Target-only offers on one receipt, I got an extra bonus $3 into my account (plus a nifty Target-themed Bonus Badge for my collection).  If I go back on a different day and cash in another offer, I unlock the other Bonus, for another Badge and an additional $2--on top of the value of the offers themselves.  It can add up quick!

There's currently a "Share the Love" bonus going on, where if new members sign up through a referral link such as this one, that new user can earn a whopping $10 Bonus for redeeming any 5 offers in their first two weeks--which is even easier than it sounds!  It does require an Android or iPhone with a rear camera, but it works at all kinds of retailers, like Target, Safeway, Walmart, Walgreens, Rite Aid, Kroger/Fred Meyer... even places you wouldn't expect, like Sam's Club, 7-Eleven, Whole Foods, and even the Military Commissary.

Because the Ibotta offers aren't redeemed at the store but through the app, they can even be "stacked" with manufacturer and store coupons for some really ridiculous savings on some items.  But even if normal paper couponing isn't "your thing", I bet you'd find this couponing "game" to be a lot of fun. :D

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Thai Kitchen Rice Noodle Cart Pad Thai

Imported By:  Simply Asia Foods, LLC [Product of China]
Required to Prepare:  2 tbsp Water, Microwave
460 calories per package

Tonight, my usually-not-noodle-loving sweetie told me she wasn't all that hungry, and asked if we could have instant noodles for dinner!  I had something in the Noodle Stash for just such an occasion--two packages of these Pad Thai noodles from Thai Kitchen.  They were perfect not only because I actually had two, but because I know my sweetie prefers this type of dish over noodle soups.  Dinner is decided upon, so it's time to cook, eat, and review!

The package consists of a shrink-wrapped plastic container inside the paperboard overwrap; inside this container is a packet of "fresh" rice noodles, some sauce, and foil packs of dried veggies and peanut topping.  We open the noodles and dried veggies into the container, pour the sauce over the noodles and add 2 tablespoons of water, cover loosely with the lid, and microwave for two minutes.  After stirring things up, we top with the peanuts.  I cooked each meal individually, due to the short cook time, so after repeating all of the above, dinner is ready to go!

The texture of the noodles is actually pretty good; they are not sticky and are pleasantly firm.  Unfortunately, that's pretty much the only good thing for me to say about it.  The flavor of the sauce is a bit strange; it's overly tangy and sweet, and tastes much more like a not-very-good hoisin sauce than anything resembling an authentic Pad Thai sauce.  I ended up wishing I had left the peanut topping off; despite the product being in date, the peanuts were quite stale and actually tasted a bit rancid.  Overall, it just didn't seem like a quality product.  And it wasn't just my package; before I mentioned my impressions, my sweetie independently critiqued both the flavor of the sauce and the freshness of the nut topping.

The consensus of the Ramen Butterfly household, then, is that we were a bit disappointed in this one. :\

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Fuwaritoshita Tenpura Soba

Made By:  Yamamoto Seifun
Required to Prepare:  Boiling water (~12 oz.)
430 calories per package

Has it really been three months since I did a noodle review?  Time flies when you're having....  Well, without delving into things that the average ramen connoisseur wouldn't be interested in, it's been a crazy year.

Be that as it may, today I am having this Japanese noodle bowl for lunch, and so I decided to take pictures and write about it, just like old times!  The only english writing anywhere on the package is on the importer's sticker on the bottom, which identifies the manufacturer as Yamamoto Seifun, and the product as Fuwaritoshita Tenpura Soba, which means it is the same noodle dish as the Midori no Tanuki Tensoba that I really liked.

The primary difference between this product and the Maruchan one, in fact, seems to be the gimmicky-feeling addition of some whole shrimp embedded in the tempura disk; otherwise, the package contains just the standard block of soba noodles and packet of dry soup base.  Preparation is the same as practically any other bowl noodle:  Add boiling water to the line, wait three minutes, and stir and serve!

While the broth does have the requisite dashi-shoyu flavor going on, it seems bland to me; it doesn't seem to have quite the same savory depth of flavor that I am used to from other Japanese-style noodle products like the ones from Nong Shim or Maruchan.  Likewise, the noodles have the breadlike mouthfeel I was expecting from my experience with other instant soba, but the deep nutty flavor isn't as prevalent.  Even the tempura seems to lack the same richness as in the Midori no Tanuki tensoba.

And then we get to the negative part:  the little shrimp I mentioned earlier.  When I said they were whole dried shrimp, I meant it--there are actually tiny unpeeled shrimp, i.e. complete with tiny shrimp legs and tiny shrimp shells, imbedded in the tempura disk.  As you contemplate whether this seems like a good idea, think back to the last time you were eating a shrimp dish and ended up trying to bite into one of the tails by mistake.  Then, imagine that someone hid a bunch of chopped-up shrimp tails in your bowl of noodles as a practical joke, because that's exactly the experience of trying to eat this soup.  After the first one, I thought I was being vigilant in picking the stupid things out, but I still managed to end up spitting out shrimp shells several more times before I finished the bowl.  For me, it completely ruined the experience, and  turned what would have been a perfectly mediocre bowl of noodles into something that was actually pretty disgusting.
I have to be honest, I simply don't get it.  :b

Friday, February 15, 2013

Indomie Onion Chicken Flavour Instant Noodles

Made By:  Indofood [Indonesia]
Required to Prepare:  400ml water, saucepan & range
340 calories per serving

For today's lunch, I'm reviewing an Onion Chicken flavour ramen soup from Indomie, who is probably better known for their Mi Goreng line of non-soup noodles but who also produces a decent variety of instant noodle soups--this one sounds like it should be a nice, mild, savory flavor.  On with the review!

Inside the packet we find a block of golden ramen-style noodles, along with a pack of seasoning oil and a foil double-pack containing soup base on one side and a decent portion of chili powder on the other.  To prepare, we boil our 400ml (or 1-3/4 cups) of water, and add the noodles and cook for three minutes.  Meanwhile, we are supposed to go ahead and put the contents of the flavoring packets into our bowl, and stir them up into a paste.  When I open the soup base, I notice a celery-like aroma, and the seasoning oil has a scent not unlike french-fried onions.  Anyway, once the noodles are cooked, we pour them over our seasoning paste, stir things up, and serve!

The flavor of the broth is a bit less oniony than I had expected; it seems very much like a western-style chicken broth.  The noodles have a decent texture, and interestingly, while eating the noodles I do notice a taste of the fried-onion flavor from the seasoning oil--the noodles must be picking up the oil as I lift them out of the broth, and it gave them a certain complexity that I appreciated and enjoyed.  I didn't notice a lot of spice while I was eating, but once the bowl was finished I did seem to have a small chili-heat afterglow going on.

While overall I'm not sure the flavor of these is that much different than just a plain domestic-brand chicken flavored ramen, the price is really not that much different either, and for the difference I appreciated the extra complexity and intensity of flavor that these had.  Even though they're basically "just" a chicken flavor, for some reason I'm looking forward to having them again.  :)

Saturday, February 9, 2013

MAMA Artificial Pa-Lo Duck Flavour Oriental Style Instant Noodles

Made By:  Thai President Foods, Ltd. [Thailand]
Required to Prepare:  12 oz. boiling water
240 calories per package

I wanted a small serving of noodles this morning as a pre-brunch snack, which is the perfect occasion to try one of these 2-ounce size Thai noodles.  I chose MAMA's Pa-Lo Duck flavor, so I can compare it to the "non-fried" duck flavor noodles I had a while back.  A cursory Google search seems to suggest that "Pa-Lo" is simply another word (the Thai word, perhaps?) for "five-spice", so I'm imagining the flavor will be at least similar.  I told you I was going to try to find the same flavor with the good noodles!

The package contains our lovely MAMA dark seasoned noodles, a packet of thick light-colored garlic-scented oil, and a double foil packet that has our soup base and the obligatory chili powder.  We add all the ingredients into a bowl, add 1-1/2 cups of boiling water, and cover and let stand for three minutes.  After a quick stir, we're ready to eat!

The noodles are definitely way better than the "non-fried" ones, with the nice firm texture that I am used to.  They might be a little less flavorful than I remember, but maybe it's not fair to compare these to noodles that have soaked in Tom Yum broth.  The broth is a bit spicier than I was expecting; I did rate the other ones at about a 3-star level, but these are probably more like a four.  Perhaps due to this, the five-spice flavor seems a little bit subtle, but it is there, along with a nice rich duck-broth base.

Overall, these were quite enjoyable, though they seemed a bit overly spicy for a morning snack.  Of course, I could probably do something about that by leaving out some or all of the chili powder, which I might actually do in the future--while I don't usually mind spice heat, it seemed a little out of place in this one.  While I still prefer the flavor of the Tom Yum varieties, I could see wanting this one again.  Oh, and of course it practically goes without saying that for only twenty extra calories per package, this one is just strictly better than the "non-fried" version. :)

Monday, February 4, 2013

Myojo Ippeichan Yomise-no Yakisoba Oriental Flavor with Mayonnaise

Made By:  Myojo Foods Co, Ltd. [Japan]
Tools Required:  ~2 cups boiling water
620 calories per package

While it hasn't been that long since I've had a package of Myojo's Ippeichan Yakisoba to eat, it has certainly been a while since the last Myojo yakisoba review, so when I found a new variety of it to review at Uwajimaya, I was excited!  But as everyone knows, finding a new food to try is less interesting than actually trying it, so for today's lunch, I am having Yomise-no Yakisoba!

The contents of the package are roughly the same as in the other Ippeichan yakisoba, though the noodles and the sauce are both lighter in color, and the "mustard-mayonnaise" packet is instead just a "mayonnaise" packet.  To prepare, we add the "Dry Vegetable" (which seems to just be dehydrated cabbage) to the container, and fill to the line with boiling water.  After the noodles stand covered for three minutes, we peel open the drain spout on the other side of the container and drain the water out, then mix in the remaining packets.  The "sauce" has an aroma not unlike teriyaki sauce, and then when I add the "spice" packet I notice a strong scent of black pepper.  There are also sesame seeds and some unidentified red flecks along with the green seaweed powder this time.  Despite what the directions say, I can't resist using the mayonnaise as a topping instead of stirring it in.

The noodles have a wonderful soft-yet-firm texture, and again Myojo has presented me with a flavor profile that is going to be difficult to describe.  The sweet-and-savory note that I smelled when I opened the sauce packet is actually very subtle, and the mayo and black pepper notes are what take the forefront, with the other seasonings and hint of sweetness rounding out the flavor deliciously.  If I have a criticism at all, it would be that the cabbage bits seemed to stay a bit tough, though I will also say that they seemed much less out of place here than in most of the other cabbage-wielding yakisoba varieties.

If the original Ippeichan Yakisoba is like eating a McDonald's hamburger, this one is like homemade southern-style fried chicken--it's a lighter, simpler flavor but still definitely retains the 'comfort food' feel.  I honestly can't decide which one I like better, and seeing as how we're talking about one of my all-time favorite instant noodles, that is quite the compliment.  Myojo has definitely crafted an excellent addition to the brand!  ^_^

Maruchan Midori no Tanuki Tensoba

Made by:  Toyo Suisan Kaisha, Ltd. [Japan]
Required to prepare:  ~14oz. boiling water
460 calories per serving

Available online through

Last time I was at Uwajimaya, I picked up the 'sister product' to the Akai Kitsune Udon that I reviewed a few months back.  Again, the name of the product is not disclosed in english, so I am left to translate the Japanese writing myself and come up with "Midori no Tanuki Tensoba", which roughly means 'green raccoon* noodles (with tempura)'.  I've heard of a red fox, but I don't think I've ever seen a green raccoon.  I actually imagine they are referring to the mythological kitsune and tanuki instead of the indigenous woodland creatures, though, so maybe a tanuki can be green if it wants to be.

Mythified critters aside, what we have here is an instant rendition of Japanese "Tensoba", short for tempura-soba, or buckwheat noodles topped with some fried tempura.  Preparation is largely the same most other bowl noodles; we add the contents of the included packets (a powdered soup base, and what appears to be an extremely tiny amount of chili powder), fill to the line with boiling water, and cover and let stand for three minutes.

The included noodles are 'real' soba, at least to the extent that they have enough buckwheat flour in them to produce the traditional grayish color.  They have an interesting bread-like mouthfeel and a deep nutty flavor.  The broth is pretty much the same dashi-and-shoyu "Japanese-style" savory flavor as in the Akai Kitsune Udon, and in other "traditional" imported noodles.  I happen to love the flavor, but if you didn't like it in any of the other products, this one won't be for you either.  The tempura disk becomes extremely soggy, of course, which one would expect, but which Americans might not associate with the word "tempura".  Unlike the abura-age from the Kitsune Udon, the tempura disk ends up breaking up into the soup instead of being eaten separately, providing nice little counterpoints of flavor throughout the dish.

While the two products--Akai Kitsune Udon and Midori no Tanuki Tensoba--have similar flavor profiles, since the broth is (as best as I can tell) exactly the same, I have to say that in the battle of Red Fox versus Green Raccoon*, I greatly prefer the Raccoon's tensoba.  I think the soba noodles have an amazing flavor, and I like the way the tempura becomes a component of the dish instead of staying a separate garnish.  Both are really good, naturally, but given the choice this is the one I would go back to on a regular basis.  :D

*While often translated as "raccoon", the Japanese tanuki is unrelated to the true raccoon native to America and is more accurately a raccoon-dog, since the tanuki is a canine.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Samyang Japanese Seafood Flavor Udon

Made By:  Samyang Foods Co., Ltd. [Korea]
Required to Prepare:  550cc water, Saucepan & range
500 calories per package

A happy 2013 to everyone!  This year my sweetie and I have resolved to eat healthier, and this means I plan to be eating (and reviewing!) more instant noodles.  That might sound strange to some, but trust me, compared to eating lunch at fast food restaurants, ramen is a veritable health food.  To help get on board the wagon, yesterday I finally made it down to Uwajimaya in Bellevue to stock up on noodles and asian foodstuffs.

Rather than stand about wracked with indecision from an overabundance of choices, for lunch today I just plucked a packet off the top of the new-and-improved Noodle Stash and ended up with these Japanese Seafood udon noodles from Samyang.  The package informs me that "This is the oriental style Udon Which is soft noodles and clear soup taste in addition to the fresh raw-materials."  I find it amusing and slightly ironic, since these are a dried product instead of a fresh, soft-packed udon.

Anyway, inside the package, we find our large square brick of raw-materials thick noodles, a packet of soup base, and one labeled 'flake.'  We bring 550cc (or 2-1/3 cups) of water to a boil in our saucepan, add the contents of the packets and the noodles, and cook for 5 minutes.  Transfer our noodles to a bowl, and it is time to have lunch!

The broth is actually a bit more bland than I was expecting; rather than the usual dashi-and-shoyu Japanese-style broth that I am used to from some of the other udon products, this one seemed more along the lines of the generic "Oriental" flavor that you might find in a Top Ramen.  At first I thought maybe it was a straight dashi broth, but I made a small cup of HonDashi instant broth to compare, and this product seemed to be lacking both the smokiness and the seaweed undertone.  "Clear soup taste," indeed.

The noodles, on the other hand, were a pleasant surprise; I was expecting basically a Neoguri or Chapagetti-style thick puffed noodle, but these were the best rendition of the flavor and texture of fresh udon that I've had so far from a dry product.  They're still not quite the same as fresh raw-materials udon, but I enjoyed the noodles.  Overall, while these weren't bad by any means, the broth is forgettable enough that I doubt they will be a repurchase.  :|