Monday, February 4, 2013

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.

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