Simply Asia "szechwan hot & sour"

Brand: Simply Asia
Flavour: szechwan hot & sour
Format: plastic bowl
Packets: four
Identifiables: noodle mass, soup base, fried shallots, veggie brick
Sodium: 0.69 grams

Four dollars! I saw this bowl on the shelf at the grocery store when I was supposed to be picking up milk and red peppers. My wife taunted me. "You know you want to," she said.

Four dollars! It looked like a typical noodle bowl, though with those Western design sensibilities on a full-colour cardboard sheath. Neon pink spot colour? How... Wired Magazine.

Four dollars! Geez, could what was inside really be worth that? That's an expensive bowl, considering I could hit the international market and drop half that for a bowl twice the size.

Of note about this bowl is the fact that there is no high-fructose corn syrup (only pure cane sugar), no trans fats, and nothing to stop it from being vegan. I don't keep vegan, but I figure it's worth mentioning. Also of note is that is has surprisingly low sodium. Might it actually be... healthy?

Upon opening the flimsy-seeming plastic bowl, I found four well-pinked and well-notched packets. One held a mass of pre-cooked thick noodles. Another contained a brownish soup base. The other two were opaque. One was labelled only with a cryptic string of letters and numbers, but seemed to be the packet of shallots mentioned in the cooking instructions. The other claimed to be vegetables, but it had some sort of hard oblong inside. My interest in the weird was piqued. I opened it to find a strange sort of hard mass of vegetable bits press together, bound by some sort of white filler. (It turned out to be difficult to photograph well because of my unfamiliarity with the advanced features of the camera, hence the bizarre colour balance of that pic.) I was overcome by conflicting feelings. Part of me wanted to reject such a brazen and pointless display of food technology such as to make perfectly natural vegetables look like a dishwasher detergent brick. The other part wondered why everybody didn't do things this way because it was, to put it bluntly, awesome.

I put the noodles, soup, and veggie brick (!) into the bowl and poured water up to the fill line. I put the lid on the bowl – loosely, as directed – and microwaved it all for two minutes. This turns out to be a messy proposition, as I opened the microwave afterwards to found some oily water and veggie flakes pooled outside the bowl. Perhaps I should have used cold water, not room temperature? The package didn't specify....

I sprinkled the shallots on top, snapped a photo, then stirred. For four dollars and a mess in my microwave... is the taste worth it? Well, that's hard to say. It's got veggie flavour, certainly, with a sort of soyish aftertaste, but it's rather sweet and edgy in odd ways. I'd explain it to visual persons as such: Imagine that someone hands you a beautiful landscape done in woodcut, rich and dimensional, then a photocopy of the same image. The photocopy has no depth, no colour, sharp edged areas of dark and white, and none of the subtle tactile enjoyment – but it is technically the same image....

That's a bit of an exaggeration, but I'll say that the soup is somewhat a disappointment. Spicy, but not quite managing the rich flavour to back it up, and with uninteresting noodles. The bits of tofu are an awfully nice touch, though, and the veggies were fairly recognisable once cooked. As a bonus, however, the bowl comes with a spoon.

Four dollars? I'll wait until it drops to two or less.

Numbers: packaging 3, preparation 3, heat 3, flavour 3, overall 3
Music: AE - Super Street Fighter Turbo HD Remix (X360) - Mountain Breaker (Akuma Stage)


Anonymous said...

For $4, that should be some kick ass ramen.

Electric Keet said...

That's my point. I mean, if I'm gonna drop four bucks, I may as well drop six bucks and get a decent teriyaki or something instead, or be able to feel two people. Not that instant noodles have to be ghetto, but this bowl just wasn't worth the price. Honestly, if it had been two dollars, I'd have reviewed it rather more favourably.