Nong Shim "Kimchi Ramyun"

Brand: Nong Shim
Flavour: Kimchi Ramyun
Format: brick-in-packet
Packets: two
Identifiables: noodle disc, veggie bits, flavour powder
Sodium: 2.26 grams

Occasionally, I travel to other places. Sometimes, when in those other places, I visit international markets. Frequently, upon visiting those international markets in other places, I buy instant noodles I've not yet seen. This is one of those times.

Unfortunately, these aren't always terribly interesting. Nong Shim has attempted to take the winning Shin Ramyun formula and adapted it to a kimchi flavour. Anyhow, I'll cut the review short and say that they haven't really succeeded. (I decided to be a little unorthodox with this review and prepare it dry-style, but that doesn't really affect the flavour.) I associate a certain tone with kimchi, a rather more vegetably (!) sort of thing than this particular noodle provides. It's spicy, but a bit less so than Shin Ramyun, which might be a plus to many of you. The vegetable flavour does come through a bit more, and the rich slightly-beefy flavour is perhaps a little less present, but these are more nitpicks than actual distinctions. If you like Shin Ramyun, you'll like this almost as much... but I must say, I'm still planning to buy the family packs of Shin Ramyun for my regular noodle enjoyment.

Yes, I buy Shin Ramyun in five-packs. I'm that dedicated. Someday I might go back and change the numbers on my old review....

Numbers: packaging 4, preparation 2, heat 4, flavour 3, overall 3
Music: Jake Kaufman - Shantae (GBC) - Tinkerbot Boss Battle


Maggi "Vegetable Atta Noodles: Masala"

Brand: Maggi
Flavour: Vegetable Atta Noodles: Masala
Format: brick-in-packet
Packets: one
Identifiables: noodle brick, flavour powder, dried veggies
Sodium: 0.97 grams

A few years back, my wife brought home a handful of interesting items she'd found at a small international market. One of them was a packet of what looked like ramen, but claimed to be flavoured with masala curry. Indian ramen? At the time, such a thing was incredible, beyond my wildest dreams!

These days, I can review such a thing objectively and scientifically. So, I started by picking a flavour at random. The result was a packet which also claimed to be masala, but with "vegetable atta noodles" which, it turns out, are wheat noodles and a foil sachet containing both flavour powder and dried vegetables. I've joked before about how Indomie adds separate packets the way Gillette adds blades to disposable razors – which is, to say, with absurd abandon – but Maggi seems to have the opposite philosophy, and in no way am I complaining.

As an interesting aside, they refer proudly to their flavour packets as "Tastemaker". I don't even have any clever comments right now. All right, just one, and it's that I can't help but think of the Tastemaker as one of those gaudy 80's era World Wrestling Foundation steroid-beasts shouting incoherently about what they'll prove in the ring and to whom. That's right... I was sincerely worried that I would open this pouch and have the Ultimate Warrior jump out at me. (Ultimate Warrior, please don't sue me.)

Unlike most other instant noodles which either intend for thre to be significant broth or require draining, these indicate a very specific amount of water. The noodles and flavouring go in simultaneously, cook for merely two minutes, and then the entirety of the result is served as is. The water is enough to cook the noodles by boiling and steam, and then it soaks into them and forms a sort of gravy with the flavour powder. It's clever and convenient, especially for one such as me who frequently prefers sauce to broth.

The cooking noodles smelled good enough. The real question was whether they would taste as good as the ones I remembered from several years previous. The sad answer is... no. It may well be a personal taste issue, but the initial scent and especially the flavour came across not too distantly from Play-Doh. (Yes... after all these years, I still remember the taste. I mean, scent.) The masala only came through strongly near the very end of the dish where the sauce had collected at the bottom. The vegetables were nice, however, and I couldn't help but think that all the dish would need is a slight tweak of the noodle recipe to be much more appealing... but then again, this may indeed be the intended flavour. I'll just have to try to find masala wheat noodles at the nearby Indian restaurant to compare.

I wonder if the Tastemaker has a theme song...? This thought distracted me so much that I forgot to photograph the cooked noodles.

Numbers: packaging 4, preparation 2, heat 2, flavour 2, overall 2
Music: David Wise - WWF WrestleMania Challenge (NES) - The Ultimate Warrior