Thursday, August 27, 2015

Paldo Korean Noodle U-Dong Flavor

Made By:  Paldo Co. Ltd. [Korea]
Preparation:  Stovetop & Range
545 calories (2284kJ) per package

Sold online at AsianFoodGrocer

Our next selection from the latest Ramen Box is this Korean take on a Japanese Udon soup.  I have to admit, I have mixed feelings about trying this one:  I love the traditional Japanese mentsuyu flavor as in Nong Shim's Japanese-Style Udon, Maruchan's Akai Kitsune Udon/Midori no Tanuki Tensoba, and others.  However, I've complained quite recently about the apparent Korean penchant for dousing things in chilies until they drown the other flavors.  The Ramen Box pamphlet does say this one is "Mild," though, so I will be cautiously optimistic--even though that cartoon chef is back, and even brought a strange little sidekick with him this time.

Inside the package, we find a packet of powdered Soup Base, a packet of "Frying Soup Base" which appears to be our dried veggie mix along with some little rice crackers, and a block of thick round noodles.  Preparation is standard for Korean noodles:  We bring 550cc of water to a boil, add the contents of the packets to the water, and then simmer the noodles in the broth for 4 minutes.  Just that easy, it is ready to serve!  I do notice the relative lack of angry red color in the broth, which helps me maintain my optimism.

And my optimism is rewarded; these are pretty good!  The broth does have (as advertised) a mild chili heat, but it doesn't overpower the broth, which has a nice light soy-mirin-seafood flavor.  It does seem like a lighter-flavored version of the mentsuyu, more along the lines of the Okinawa Soba we just had than some of the others mentioned above.  While the noodles can't really compare to fresh-packed udon, they do stay nicely firm and have a good flavor.  Even toward the end of the bowl, although the chili heat did build a little, it was at a nice level compared to the rest of the flavors in the bowl.
I would definitely have this one again! :D

(I still don't trust that little chef mascot, though.  In the immortal words of a former US president: "Fool me once, shame on — shame on you. Fool me — you can't get fooled again.")

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Myojo Okinawa Soba

Made By:  Myojo Foods Co. Ltd.  [Japan]
Preparation:  Saucepan & Range
400 calories per package

Available online via Amazon

Today for lunch, my wife and I are having our first noodle from the July Ramen Box!  Naturally, I gravitate straight toward the Japanese ones first, and pull out the Okinawa Soba.  I'm looking forward to them!

The package has fairly simple contents:  We have the block of wide-cut  pale noodles, a packet of a soup base, and a much smaller packet of chili powder.  We are supposed to boil 500cc of water (about 2 cups), add the noodles and cook for 3 minutes, then stir in the soup base and transfer to our bowls.  Unlike most other noodles that include a chili powder component, this one is meant to be used as garnish; it is not pure chili powder but is a version of Japanese shichimi togarashi [seven-flavor chili powder] which is milder and includes things like orange zest, sesame seeds, and seaweed flakes.  So, we dust the top of our noodles with our pepper garnish for color, and we are ready to serve!

I have to say, I really like this one!  The flavor definitely reminds me of the Japanese 'mentsuyu' flavor as in the Midori no Tanuki Tensoba or Japanese-Style Udon noodles, although it seems a bit lighter and cleaner in flavor.  I think the broth might be more anchovy based and a little less of the seaweed-and-smoked-fish 'usual' dashi flavor, and based on the color, there is definitely less of the soy sauce element.

Despite the name, the noodles are not really soba noodles, but are actually closer to an udon noodle; they are a bit slippery, soft yet not soggy, and have a light and clean flavor that pairs with the broth well.  The fact that they are based on udon and not soba may or may not be surprising, depending on whether or not you knew that "real" Okinawa Soba was made with udon-like noodles, or whether you had to find this out on Wikipedia afterwards.

While I think I still prefer the deeper flavor and the 'true' soba noodles from a Tensoba, this one is quite nice and I would definitely enjoy having more of these!  The "serving suggestion" picture on the front shows additions of braised pork belly, green onion, pickled ginger, and something that looks like mushroom but might be fishcake slices; that seems like it could be fun excuse to buy more of these.  :D

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Ottogi Sesame Flavor Ramen

Made By:  Ottogi Ramyun Co. Ltd. [Korea]
Preparation:  Saucepan & Range
490 calories per package

Available online via Amazon

For dinner tonight, we had the last selection of the instant noodles from the June Ramen Box!  My sweetie recently told me (while we were having the Sapporo Ichiban Shio Ramen that included the sesame seed topping) that she enjoys the flavor of sesame, so I am hoping this will be a hit with the entire Ramen Butterfly household.  The back of the package promises that the included Egg Block will also deliver "the rich flavor of roasted sesame," so that sounds promising.

The noodle block is a brighter yellow color than usual, and there are three included seasoning packets:  There is the dry soup base packet, the aforementioned "Egg Block", and a small packet of bright orange sesame oil.  We bring 500cc of water to a boil, then we add the soup base, egg block, and noodles and cook for four minutes.  After transferring to a bowl, we add the small amount of sesame oil and stir.  We also notice that the square Egg Block seems to have completely disappeared, so apparently instead of being a Block, it was supposed to disperse and become part of the broth.  In any case, the noodles are ready to serve!

I have to say, I am starting to get bored with the oppressive spice level of most Korean ramyuns.  It's not that I can't handle spicy food, either; I mean 'oppressive' in the sense that all the other flavors which are supposed to be present get oppressed by the large amount of chili heat.

This ramen is unfortunately a prime example:  The package doesn't even mention anything about being spicy, and it promises "rich flavor of roasted sesame."  The Ramen Box pamphlet does mention the "spicy level" is Medium, but also reassures us that this "offers a balanced taste of nuttiness and spiciness" and that the "addition of the egg block adds a savory taste to the broth."  What do we have instead?  Yet another slight variation of Shin Ramyun.  It's a shame, because the tiny hints of the subflavors that I can pick up seem like they could have been interesting, if they weren't too busy being oppressed.
My wife was even less impressed by the level of oppression, and added some American cheese to tone down the heat.  Unfortunately this didn't do anything to liberate the alleged sesame and egg undertones, and instead just turned it into some mediocre nacho cheese soup.

For the record, the noodles have a firm and slightly slippery texture, and remind me of the 'udon' style noodles from Neoguri et al.  However, I'm just adding that to the list of ways this could have been interesting but chose not to be.  I don't imagine I'll be buying this one. :\