Samyang Foods "Chacharoni"

Brand: Samyang Foods
Flavour: Chacharoni
Format: brick-in-packet
Packets: two
Identifiables: noodle brick, beefy soybean sauce, veggie bits
Sodium: 1.25 grams

One of my favourite foods is ja jyang myun. It consists of noodles, beefy soybean sauce, and veggie bits. Back in Ann Arbor, MI, there was a Korean cafe I frequented pretty much exclusively for this dish. Thus, I got really excited when I saw an instant-noodle version of it in the collection. Finally, I get to try it!

The wrapper read, in letters that could easily be found on a sign warning of radiation hazard, "Chacharoni". I instantly had a jingle running through my head, something along the lines of, "Cha-cha-roni... the Seoul, Korea treat!" I opened it eagerly.

First, this is a huge brick. (Check it out next to a twelve-ounce can of CFDDP!) The nutrition label does try to pass it off as two servings, but American privilege allows me to callously disregard and even mock that. (Of course, that American privilege is also part of why the animated plastic scale in Wii Fit loves to cheerfully remind me that I'm at the upper end of "overweight". Yeah, whatever.) I dunked it and the contents of the veggie packet into a half-litre of boiling water as per directions and wondered if there's an official ramen of the 2008 Olympics, and if I should acquire some, and if it comes with a packet of condensed Beijing smog. (I also wondered if "condensed" were perhaps redundant next to "Beijing smog".)

After five (!) minutes of cook time, I opened the other packet easily. (Good pinking on these, no scissors needed.) Understand that neither packet has a lick of descriptive English on it. As the thick, gritty, brown-black gel slid out of the clear packet, I noted out loud – with nobody standing nearby to hear – that the Korean on it probably read, "Many Crude Oil Flavour for Happy Soup!" That colour is par for the course (get it? food, dish, course) so it's not as though any real fear had struck me. The directions insisted that I "cook 2minutes with stir", no typo there, so I did. The results went into a bowl, and my trusty orange IKEA chopsticks came out.

For as nasty as the stuff may look, it tastes pretty darned good. The soup base thickened up the broth nicely, the noodles have a good tooth to them, and the veggies (though few) complement well. The rich, beefy flavour is incredibly satisfying, and even though it's not spicy in the least, it stays interesting throughout. This ramen earns reasonably high marks for flavour which, to be honest, almost make me feel bad about the crude oil comment. If only it were in a bowl and not a packet, it would earn a four overall.

(As a note to fellow ramenauts and information junkies, this post would have been a bit earlier, except that I ended up delaying the photo processing in favour of reading Wikipedia's text about the history of the modern Korean writing system, Hangul. Give it a whirl, if you have a few minutes... fascinating stuff!)

Numbers: packaging 3, preparation 2, heat 1, flavour 4, overall 3

Music: DEVO - Pioneers Who Got Scalped - Secret Agent Man


Anonymous said...

You're supposed to drain all the water first then add the cooked noodles into the black bean paste. As a result, you'll find a muck thiker and stickier consistency to the noodle.

Anonymous said...

Just purchased a packet of these from a local international foods store, and its pretty good. I added lots of salt to get it to my American expectation of ramen saltiness, and this definitely improved the flavor. To the last poster, the package does say "don't remove water from noodles".

Anonymous said...

The first anonymous poster is right. All instant noodle variants of chajangmyun include Chapaghetti and Chacharoni correctly involve draining off most of the liquid that the noodle cake is cooked in before adding the flavouring (whether in sauce or powder form) as you are meant to get a thick sticky sauce like real chajangmyun.

Anonymous said...

chapagetti rocks too....

Anonymous said...

oh my god. youre supposed to drain the water from the noodles. just like the first poster said.

Anonymous said...

The package directions do not say to drain water first. As a matter of taste I add less water to start. I think I heard they drain water before adding seasoning in prison. I’m kind of joking.