5 Odd yet Strangely Delicious Instant Noodles Sold at Local GroceriesNovember 12, 2014
Today’s grocery aisles no longer offer just instant pancit canton and beef bulalo bowls. Rustan’s, SM Hypermart and Supermarket, and Metro Supermarket have expanded their options to include various international brands and imports, such as Nissin’s ramen line and Koka’s instant takes on Asian favorites like Tom Yam and Mi Goreng. Even our own local companies are bringing more flavors to the table. In this article, we go through the different noodle brands out there and see what strange, new offerings they have in store.
1. Payless Pancit Shanghai Patatim Flavor
Instant noodles attempt to serve up flavors that are somewhat close to the original dish. In the past, noodle brands stuck to staples like beef and chicken. But Payless offers a tasty alternative (at least on the onset) in its patatim flavored pancit. The flat noodles Payless uses absorb more flavor than the thinner noodles from competitor Lucky Me. Unfortunately, the noodle sauce tasted way too much of the star anise and oyster sauce components of patatim. The taste of chili garlic was overwhelming and the noodles tasted more like instant Yakisoba. Despite the noodles having little of the actual meat’s taste, overall it held enough of that junky flavor we sometimes crave in instant noodles.
2. N-Rich Instant Mami Noodles with Malunggay, Chicken Tinola Flavor
This noodle variant stood out for its instant take on a Pinoy dish that takes time to cook. First, there’s the promise of “200 mg of malunggay” on the instant food packaging. Second, there’s the offer of tinola—a classic that draws its flavor from various Filipino vegetables—but with just the addition of hot water. The noodles themselves are light green upon opening the pack; they’re not as light green as sayote, but don’t let that put you off from trying this unique take on tinola. The green noodles end up coloring the soup, which isn’t close at all to the clear broth tinola usually has. But once you mix the cooked noodles with the dehydrated vegetables, the soup itself is close to the soothing gingery broth of tinola. The only difference is the saltier taste one expects from instant noodles. The warm bowl is actually comforting and enjoyable, and a recommended dish for those who are sick and unable to eat a lot of food.
3. Lucky Me! Instant Pancit Pares, Spicy Chicken Inasal Flavor (with Sarsa Pack)
Beef and chicken may be staple flavors to most instant noodle lines, but the thought of chicken inasal as instant canton seemed forced. I was hoping this flavor would surprise me like N-Rich’s Chicken Tinola: after mixing the freshly cooked noodles with the sarsa, I could smell the fragrance of the calamansi and a little lemongrass. Unfortunately the smell was nothing like the actual taste: the noodles were sweeter than the usual calamansi pancit canton, but the inasal left an odd aftertaste. The aftertaste was probably an attempt to bring in chicken inasal’s barbecue flavor, yet the sarsa left an extra salty taste that was also smokey in the mouth.
4. Wai Wai Palo Duck Noodles
Several international noodle brands have entered our groceries and most offer instant takes on popular Asian dishes. Wai Wai offers Palo duck noodles, a dish that promises Thailand’s 5-spice powder of fennel seeds or black pepper, Sichuan pepper, star anise, Chinese cinnamon, and cloves. The 5-spice is meant to remove the unpleasant taste and odors from duck meat. While cooking the Palo Duck Noodles, I could smell a hint of the duck but the palo was more dominant in its fragrance. The chili and pepper components were savory in the broth without overwhelming the palate. At first, the noodles seem to have a beef-like taste, but the duck follows in the aftertaste. Palo Duck Noodles are another warm bowl worth having on a rainy day or when you’re down with the flu.
5. Wei Wei “A” Series Instant Noodles, Artificial Chicken Flavor
This noodle pack piqued my curiosity for its label: Wei Wei is straightforward about the chicken being artificial in taste and doesn’t claim to have “no preservatives” like the other brands. But that could be due to mistranslation, as the rest of the pack is written in French. I still managed to eat and prepare this pack properly, and thoroughly enjoyed the sweet and spicy chili that blended well in the broth. The dehydrated spices and vegetables were also comforting on each sip. The chicken flavor itself is subtle and blends well with the noodle. Although you might want to slow down eating this, as the noodles also left a salty aftertaste.
Which instant noodles have left a funny aftertaste in your mouth? What noodle flavors surprised you after trying them? Tell us in the comments section below!
Writer’s Note: Most of these noodles are available in SM, Rustan’s, and Metro Supermarket. If you have a hard time looking for Wai Wai and Wei Wei, you can find them in the Asian aisle of SM Supermarket in Makati and in Metro Supermarket.