Thursday, October 6, 2011

Instant Noodles: around the world 3

More instant noodles!! (read Part 1 here and Part 2 here if interested)

After getting an oil change for my car last Saturday I decided to drive down Route 70 without using a map or GPS at all and stop by any places I see interesting.

One of them was the Asian Food Market. The sign was red and huge, pretty easy to notice. I stopped by and checked around. They have a huge variety of Chinese goods (and from their language, it seems that the store is Chinese-owned, as compared to the Vietnamese Sun Seng on Route 38). They also have a wide variety of authentic Chinese dishes for to go. Oh, and they also sell fresh soy milk!

And then I went on, and found H Mart. It's a Korean supermarket chain. At first I didn't have a good impression; I've been to H Mart in Manhattan and it was crowded and messy and unpleasant. The H Mart here is pretty huge, and all the ahjumma there are really nice.

I checked out the instant noodle aisle and bought these Chukazanmai. It's made by Myojo, and it's imported from Japan, so I'm not too worried about the ingredients. After all, as far as I remember Japan has one of the strictest regulations on food.

I'm not sure what Oriental Flavor really means, so I decided to get try it. There might be a specific concept of "Oriental Flavor" in Japan, just like how Americans in general think that anything with sesame seed or dressing is "Asian". You know, like "Asian Salad" (even though back in Asia the term 'salad' generally implies that it's a dish introduced or influenced by the West).

The noodle is really thin and randomly arranged. Most instant noodles strings I've seen are packed straight; this one goes haywire in almost every direction but formed into a square shape. I wonder how these noodles were processed.

The noodle is thin and chewy - I hardly see any thin noodles as chewy as this. I love it! I'm not a big fan of soft, soggy noodles. The soup is pretty much soy sauce based. It's delicious and very savory. After looking at the ingredients list of the dry seasoning and liquid soup base, guess what's in there:

Monosodium Glutamate (MSG - YUMM), yeast extract, Chinese cabbage extract, soy sauce, bonito extract. All of them provide umami / savory component. Yeast extract and Chinese cabbage are natural sources of glutamate (the family of MSG, yes). I'm not familiar with disodium inosinate but I would assume it is some sort of flavor enhancer that works similarly to MSG as well. Oh guess what, I was right:

FYI, if you're interested in umami-rich foods (in other words, food with naturally high MSG content), you should check this Umami Information Center website out:

Now you know why in steamboat/hotpot/shabu shabu or whatever you call it, they always put Chinese cabbage / sawi putih / Napa cabbage. BECAUSE IT'S A NATURAL SOURCE OF MSG! Chinese people are so clever. And my mom knows Chinese cabbage makes soups taste so good without knowing about this fact. I told this to her about half a month ago, though. So now she knows!

Alright, moving on to the next one!

This one seems very interesting: curry flavor. I know it's probably not Indian curry but somewhere close to sweet, thick Japanese curry.

The noodle is pretty thick, close to instant u-dong/ udon. The surface is a little rough, so my guess is that this noodle is most likely processed by deep frying, just like most noodles out there. Some noodles, especially the "premium quality" noodles, are hot air dried. It's slower but I guess from nutrition standpoint it's healthier. I'm not exactly sure about textural differences, though.

Another thing I'd like to mention: nutrition facts label. Yes, if you are not familiar with it, you probably will take quite some time to figure out what is telling you what. And it's really deceptive primarily because there is no standard for serving size. Like this one:

The first thing that you have to read, and you definitely must read, is the Serving per Container. Why? Because like this instant noodle, it actually contains TWO servings per container. That means you will have to multiply all the values listed by two, unless you're the kind of person who would break instant noodle into half, use only half of the seasoning, and use only half of the condiment, and save the rest for later. No, I don't see a lot of people doing that because it defeats the purpose of making individual packets: convenience.

At a glance, you'd think that this instant noodle is healthy because it only has 210 Calories while in general most instant noodles have around 300-400 Calories. This noodle is no different than the majority: multiply the Calorie content by 2 and you'll get 420 Calories. Is it their fault for tricking you into thinking that this noodle is healthy? No, because by putting the label it is now YOUR responsibility to check the label.

(And oh, beware of the sodium level. It's 40% of the recommended amount you can take in a day; multiply it by 2 and you'll get 80%!! The upper limit is 2300mg, so that leaves you 460 mg of sodium which is equivalent to less than 1/4 teaspoon of salt!)

Here, they don't use straight MSG. I see that they include mushroom powder (HINT: mushroom is a good source of MSG and I don't think they add this powder for flavor in this case, just because people don't really make Japanese curry with mushroom bits at all), yeast extract powder, kelp extract powder and disodium inosinate. Again, kelp is another good source of natural MSG.

Something a little extra about cooking directions: I can't read Korean but apparently they put an exclamation mark on the 450cc (of water, I'm going to assume). Seems like it's an important step or amount of water. Not that important but maybe there are consumers who use too much water and ended up not getting the right end product.

As I expected, it's chewy, somewhat close to Shin Ramyun noodle but somewhat not as chewy as Shin Ramyun. The curry is not as thick as I thought it would be but it's pretty decent. It's pretty spicy for this type of curry but I love spicy foods and I can handle them. I'm a little disappointed at the dried vegetables included; it needs more carrot. There were only 2 pieces of carrot in mine, and they're like super tiny. The rest of the dry condiment package was just dried green onions.

Will post more stuffs next time. I've been busy with graduate school applications and other stuffs. And when I got back from work I just feel tired, not excited to do anything much. I haven't been cooking anything fancy lately, too.

But work is fun, so I've been feeling hyped up every day!


  1. Anin! Gw lagi ambil module food technology and processing this semester and it's the most interesting module i've had so far! hahahaha pantesan aja elo enjoy banget kuliahnya!

    anw gw mau tanya elo tau ga kombu kelp itu bisa beli di mana di spore? apa di supermarket isetan gtu ada yah? gw pengen cobain bikin resep2 jepang gtu (abis nonton channel cookingwithdog di youtube) dan jadi pengen masak! tau sendiri kan bahan2nya agak unik!

    the instant noodle posts have been really interesting! gw ga segitu adventurous kaya elo, biasa makan indomie doang. paling jauh yah shin ramyun. :D


  2. haha thank you tas, glad u enjoy the posts! haha iya kan, food tech is very interesting!! i never get tired of it hohoho xD

    mungkin di cold storage basement takashimaya ada, biasanya kalo yang fresh di refrigerated section, kalo yg dried kelp di deket2 instant miso soup aisle gitu. isetan mungkin jual tp gw ga yakin, gw jarang ke sana hehe xD

    gw demen bgt cookingwithdog! pengen coba bikin pork kakuni, looks so delicious!!

  3. anitaa.. i need to do grocery shopping with you! i never read all those nutrition facts before. and even if i do, i dont even understand. man, i should have studied the same thing as you! hahaha


  4. iya! cookingwithdog rocks! kayanya gampang banget bikin makanan2 itu semua! definitely gonna find the ingredients here and try cooking them! :D

    - Tasya


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