Noodle King "XO Sauce Flavored"

Brand: Noodle King
Flavour: XO Sauce Flavored
Format: plastic tray
Packets: two
Identifiables: noodle mass, dried veggies, flavour sludge
Sodium: 0.52 grams

Before I opened this package, I had no idea what "XO sauce" was. What I did know was that the tray was a high-class production, all black and very slick. Upon opening it, I was even more surprised; the plastic lid matched, and the bowl itself had a clear plastic liner inside which seved both to create a smooth surface so the veggies wouldn't get stuck in creases and to create an insulating gap of air so the outside of the bowl would stay cool. Very spiffy!

The other contents of the bowl were more standard. There was a roughly-circular mass of yellow dried noodles, a mostly-opaque white packet containing dried veggie bits (including corn!), a mostly-opaque red packet containing some sort of pitch-black flavouring sludge, a small piece of paper with standard preparation instructions on one side and microwave oven instructions on the other, and a small plastic fork for convenience. This was beginning to seem like the perfect businessman's lunch. You know, bring in a really spiffy-looking noodle bowl, prepare it easily with hot water, and there's even a fork included. No mess, no fuss!

Unfortunately, there were a few hitches. To facilitate the preperation of the "dry style" noodles, two corners of the lid had three small cuts to form waterspout holes, but they had to opened manually and it was a bit of a challenge. Also, while the bowl itself was somewhat insulated, the lid got very hot after three minutes of boiling water under it, so draining the noodles was slightly uncomfortable. After cooking, the sludge packet opened easily with a notch on the side, but the sludge inside was slow to squeeze out and it left a good bit of gritty remains which simply couldn't be coaxed from the packet.

The smell was... very odd, slightly fishy, and rich without being particularly distinct. It reminded me of fried rice, which makes perfect sense when one reads about XO sauce. Imagine somewhat brown noodles that taste rather like salty fried rice, and you have about the right idea. (Apologies for not having photos of the prepared noodles; I got a little ahead of myself.)

The catch, of course, is that the noodles were undercooked despite strict adherence to the directions, and they had a strong flavour of their own that was slightly unexpected (though not unpleasant). Also, the sauce was somewhat clumpy, so there were noodles without much flavour and then pockets with a very strong salty-seafoody punch, though even then it didn't seem very spicy at all. It seems like the dish would have been far more pleasant were it not for these facts, as the flavour was rather enjoyable. I find myself wondering if the microwave directions might have been the preferable option, so I'm allowing a higher score based on the idea that warming the sauce sachet a bit and cooking the noodles slightly more would have helped.

Numbers: packaging 4, preparation 3, heat 2, flavour 4, overall 3
Music: Pink Floyd - Wish You Were Here - Wish You Were Here

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