WuMu "Steamed Noodle: Garlic and Sesame Oil Flavor"

Brand: Wu-Mu
Flavour: Steamed Noodle: Garlic and Sesame Oil Flavor
Format: brick-in-packet
Packets: three
Identifiables: noodle brick, veggie bits, garlicky oil, dark sauce
Sodium: 1.00 grams

All things expire, and this holds true for instant noodles. A quick glance at the pictures will reveal that I should have eaten these a month and a half ago. I figure that the longer a product's shelf life is, however the more fudge factor one has in meeting that deadline of edibility. Milk may have only a week... give or take a couple days. Ramen can sit for a half-year; a few more weeks won't cause it to spontaneously putrefy. It turns out that even a Ramenbox doesn't last forever, but in this case it's because this is the last of the packets that were in it.

The packet itself is a handsome affair with modern styling and rich orange and brown colours. It proudly proclaims that the noodles inside are "none fried", though this doesn't necessarily imply that anything is healthy about the ramen. Aside from a brick of thinner-than-usual noodles are three packets. The one labelled "Seasoning" has, strangely, dried veggie bits. "Sauce Packing" has dark, sweetened soy sauce within it. "Oil Packing" has an oil with such strong garlic flavour that the scent of it hits like a wallop once opened. Strange translations aside, all of these are well-pinked and easy to open.

Preparation isn't too bad, either. I'm a fan of noodles that cook in the bowl rather than having to get out a pot. Though a specific amount of boiling water is mentioned, a reasonable measurement would be "enough to cover the noodles and veggies by a bit" since it all gets drained off in four minutes anyhow. (Just be careful trying to drain a hot bowl. Ow.) After that, it's as easy as stirring in the sauce and oil. It's still not quite as easy as the average "cup noodle" but it's not too bad.

The flavour is actually not quite what I expected. There's definitely the sesame oil and garlic mentioned in the name of the packet, but I thought it would be slightly sweeter with the addition of the soy sauce. It turns out to be almost entirely savoury, and amazingly heavy on the garlic. I'm still tasting the garlic several minutes after the bowl is done, so this is definitely not just a hint of everyone's favourite allium. The veggies reconstitute well, but due to the nature of the noodles they tend to clump up at the sides of the bowl instead of mixing in. Still, it's a tasty ramen, if nto as well-balanced as some of the others I've reviewed.

So, that concludes this Ramenbox. I'm really not sure what to say about that. They've been good to me and I was glad to help them get started, but now they have write-ups in Wired and such. My little blog isn't exactly going to help out much on that anymore. Still, I certainly wish them luck and prosperity – and I encourage fellow ramenauts to visit, put together boxes of their favourites for ten percent off (use coupon code CHEAPERTHANFOOD), and enjoy a really interesting service that couldn't have existed before the advent of the modern Internet!

Postscript: Come on, Blogger. I liked you guys, and I was willing to put up with your image upload function being slightly broken as far as the ordering of images. And then I was willing to put up with it becoming completely broken. Now the file upload preview is completely blank. Get it together.

Numbers: packaging 4, preparation 3, heat 0, flavour 4, overall 4
Music: virt - Serious Monkey Business - Dance of the Zinger


Mì Ăn Liền "Thịt Xào Pork Flavor"

Brand: Mì Ăn Liền
Flavour: Thịt Xào Pork Flavor
Format: styrofoam bowl
Packets: four
Identifiables: noodle dome, flavour powder, oniony oil, dried veggies
Sodium: 1.03 grams

First, I had a stretch of being busy enough that ramen reviews weren't on the agenda. Then... well, you'd think that it would be easy enough to remember to buy replacement batteries for my camera. Amazingly, I forgot for several days in a row, then went out of town for a few days to help friends move, and now here I am, nearly a month after the previous review. I can only apologise and get on with it. Here, we have another treat from Ramenbox, a Vietnamese noodle soup with a name that has all sorts of unusual accents in it.

A note on the name of this bowl: Understand that I occasionally do professional document layout and design. I've created my own custom keyboard map to allow me to type nearly every accented Latin character, every (monotonic) Greek letter, and nearly every bit of punctuation I could conceivably want. Still, I find myself digging back into the old character map to pull out the multi-accented letters of Vietnamese, all so you can read the most accurate review possible. Why don't I do this for Chinese, Japanese, Thai, or Korean language script? Because that's just too geeky for even me. (Though I've been tempted to try. Oh, I do love Unicode.)

Because of the smooth finish, I initially thought the bowl to be plastic. It turns out to be rather sturdy styrofoam, with a foil top that's glued on almost too well. Inside are four packets, but only if we count the clear one containing an approximately bowl-shaped brick of dry noodles. A foil packet labelled "soup base" holds sandy powder. Another clear packet labelled "flavour oil" containt precisely that, pale oil with a few dark-brown bits of fried onion in it. The last packet holds dried vegetable bits and is labelled... "flavour oil". One wonders....

The instructions are simple enough, though slightly odd in that there's no mention of the fill line inside the bowl, just an encouragement to "pour boiling water nearly full". Three minutes and a good stir later, the bowl is full of swirling noodles and lightly-coloured broth with veggies and... something. That something is flavoured soy protein yearning to simulate pork. Oh, don't give me that look; you eat more of the stuff than you even realise. It's good for you. The appearance, however, is that of unappealing tan flakes of fish-food.

Fortunately, this bowl is surprisingly good. I say "surprisingly" because I've traditionally had a rather mediocre time of instant Vietnamese-style noodles. These noodles are typically thin vermicelli-style, meaning they tend to hold more of the broth between them. (The scalding hot broth. Be careful, ramen lovers.) That broth is simultaneously light of texture and full of flavour, so much pork and onion and a bit of black pepper. The ill-looking porkish floaty bits turn out to be tasty enough that they're not a negative. Thus, I'm glad to say that this is a tasty bowl and delightfully free of sugar. The verdict? Decent stuff, even if not brilliant.

Numbers: packaging 2, preparation 3, heat 1, flavour 3, overall 3
Music: Setsuo, Tomozou, Sato, Yuko, Kirry - Megaman X - Storm Eagle