2009-03-18

Wai Wai "Oriental Style"

Brand: Wai Wai
Flavour: Oriental Style
Format: brick-in-packet
Packets: three
Identifiables: noodle brick, chili powder, soup powder, garlic oil
Sodium: 0.93 grams

I dug through the box which holds Batch Three, looking for something interesting for the day's review. I found one that was small, quirky-looking, but simple. After all, there were a total of nine ingredients, all of which I had in my kitchen at the moment. If anything, I feared it would be too boring to be of interest. It was under this happy delusion that I began to photograph.

Note the complex, over-saturated arrangement of food items on the packet. We can see noodles, eggs, prawns, several types of chilis, mint, lemongrass, what might be chicken or duck, something yellow, and what looks like a tongue made of strawberry jam. None of these are in the packet, save the noodles. Pause a moment and imagine my relief.

There is a clear window on the packet which shows the medium-brown dried noodles inside, and I figured that tucked behind the noodle brick would be a single flavouring packet. To my great surprise, there were three packets inside, two of them conjoined Indomie-style. One clearly held a small quantity of ground dried chilies. Another was translucent but appeared opaque white from the soup powder within. The third, however, was an inscrutable blue packet with liquid inside. Had I missed some of the directions? I checked carefully, and here they are, verbatim and including typoes:

INSTANT
1. Pour in boiling water.
2. Put cover on and leave to sit for 3 minutes.
3. The good tasted instant noodles soup is now ready to serve.
COOKING
1. Add noodles to boiling water 400cc. Simmer for 2 minutes,stir occasionally.
2. Remove to the bowl with seasoning. Stir,the noodles are ready to serve.

Once I decoded them, I elected to follow the latter batch of instructions, even though only the former held the promise of "good tasted instant noodles soup". While the noodles boiled, I opened the adequately-pinked packets and emptied them into a bowl, nearly squirting semi-opaque garlicky fluid past the bowl. My poor aim was, of course, a result of shaking hands... hands which shook with a mix of terror and exhiliration. During my hiatus – no, let's call it a sabbatical – I had forgotten how it felt to be in over my head, to be held hostage at the culinary whim of ramen. There's a strange joy to it.

After two minutes, I stirred the noodles and liquid together with the spices in the bowl. The result was a small hill of noodles which disappeared about two millimetres from the surface of an unappealing-looking tan broth, complete with a sheen of oil on the top. I thought of the "Lucky Me!" brand and shivered, even in the warmth of my own home. Would this be a repeat... or worse?

The truth is that the results are disappointingly – or maybe mercifully – bland. The noodles had a firm texture, possibly slightly undercooked, and they didn't soak up much of the taste. The broth itself was as murky in flavour as in appearance, being little more than garlic and chili. In fact, the broth seemed to have leached much of the wheaty flavour of the noodles, which meant that drinking the broth was actually more enjoyable than eating the noodles. Given that the ingredients were so few but the packets so many, the noodles were not cooked with the seasonings but the broth was kept, and that the broth ended up more interesting than the noodles themselves, the one word I would use to describe this ramen is "backwards".

Numbers: packaging 3, preparation 2, heat 2, flavour 2, overall 2
Music: The Alpha Conspiracy - Cipher - Cross Product

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

My packet supplied a "Noodles with soup" and "Noodles without soup" cooking directions. The "noodles without soup" instructions - draining the noodles before adding the packets - yields a tasty, spicy portion. I recommend trying them this way should you ever revisit the land of Wai Wai.

Anonymous said...

These noodles lack flavour and depth.

Chadwick Glein said...

Anyone who says these aren't good has no idea what they are doing. DO NOT cook it like ramen. Use a very small pot and just enough water to cover the noodles. If you use too much water it tastes like nothing. Also, do not over cook the noodles. It should be al dente. If you cook it wrong and didn't enjoy it, I'm sorry, and it's your fault. These are by far the best noodles available you guys just had no idea what you were doing. EXAMPLE: The pic on your post has about two to three times as much water as it should.

asha said...

Have to agree with Chadwick here. I grew up eating these noodles and its taste is far superior to other noodles I've tasted. The key to making this is not adding a bucketful of water. You need to add just enough water (1/2 cup to 1 cup) so the seasoning soaks through nicely, and coast the noodles evenly. I'd recommend first frying some onions, tomatoes, green chili pepper, and then boiling the noodles to get an even better taste. The condiments in this noodles are heavy, so it's better to add these veggies and add as little water as possible to be able to conserve its taste.