Supermarket Noodle Bowls: Don’t Buy Them

Lately I’ve been trying to find something that I can eat for lunch at work that doesn’t come out of that part of the frozen meal section that oh so many middle-aged women huddle around at your local supermarket. While those frozen meals are generally okay, I find myself slowly spiraling into depression more and more with every microwave thawing of one. I have no idea why. Maybe because it makes me sad that I would much rather be eating SpaghettiOs straight out of the can than sitting there deciding if I would rather get another frozen brick of French Mushroom Italian Delight Panini, or Italian Lobster Fish Fart Bake. At least SpaghettiOs have a taste. They taste like SpaghettiOs. All of that frozen stuff just tastes like microwave radiation, no matter how many fancy ingredients you claim are in it.

As much as I would like to just drink a can of SpaghettiOs at work, I feel I need to be a bit more “adult” in my lunch approach. So I did what any confused person that has no clue what the fuck they want does at the supermarket and wandered into the mystical International Foods aisle. I was instantly greeted with more than a few lunch options: mostly a bunch of generic rice packets and other assorted ricey things. But that shit need not even apply because out of the corner of my eye, I spotted these little beauties:

Cup Noodle

First off, let me say that I am huge fan of Asian noodle dishes. They are some of my favorite foods. I could goddamn eat them all day and not give one shit. Whether it’s the lowly Chinese takeout Lo Mein, or the masterful Pad Thai, none have me debating much at all about consuming them in a manner that looks like a starving animal finding its first meal in weeks. So it’s only natural when I saw Ms. Chun’s line of fine noodle dishes that I leapt at the chance to consume them for lunch on an every day basis. This was a match made in noodle Heaven. Or so I thought!

My first attempt came with the Teriyaki Bowl. Now, I do enjoy me some good teriyaki dishes, so I figured this would be a home run. Taking it in to work the next day, I removed my block of noodles from the plastic bag and put them in the bowl. I was then instructed to put in the “vegetable packet.” Opening the vegetable packet revealed dust and bits of… something. There’s an off chance that they may have been related to vegetables at some point in their now ancient-looking existence, but I had my doubts. Still, I sprinkled them on my noodle mound and went to put the sauce on next. This was dubbed “teriyaki sauce.” Once it was all assembled, into the microwave it went to be nuked for about a minute. I come back to see that it looked about how it did before, except now it reeked of an odor not unlike a dirty sock that had been left in the sun for too long. Obviously, first impressions were poor, and now most of the break room firmly hated me for making everything within a mile radius smell like stank feet. I marched on.

A quick taste revealed that the stank wasn’t just restricted to odor, as the combination of the bland noodles, vegetable dust, and a sauce that couldn’t be called subtle by any stretch of the imagination produced a taste that was about on level with eating something that had long since soured and gone bad. The biggest culprit was the sauce itself: so strong that it nearly threw me across the floor, my taste buds immediately retreated from sheer exhaustion. The sourness and sweetness of it was so profound that I literally could take no more than two small bites of the noodles without producing the most enormous bitter beer face anyone had ever seen. The worst part is I had only put in half of the packet, as I am not big on over-saucing my foods. I can only imagine what it would have been like with a full packet. I am pretty sure no living thing could have dealt with it.

After going home hungry later that night, you would have thought I would have learned my lesson. Sadly no, as the next trip to the grocery found me looking at the noodle bowls again. I mean, the noodles were okay. I could have stood it if the sauce had not been completely inedible. It wouldn’t have been great, but it still would be preferable to another fucking frozen panini. So this time, I went with a different name brand, and a completely different dish: Chow Mein. I figured this would be about as far as possible from the teriyaki, and so maybe a happy medium could be found. The next day at work, I tossed my noodles into the bowl, tossed the vegetable dust in the trash, and put about half the sauce pack on. A minute later, a familiar odor began to permeate the room. Thinking it may just be remnants of yesterday’s noodles, I took them out, put my fork in, and took a nice big bite. Only then did I realize the mistake I had made.

Cup Noodle

It was the same exact fucking sauce.

There was zero difference. It was that same, sickeningly sweet sourness that brutalized my tongue the previous day. How was this even possible? It’s a completely different dish, from a completely different brand! As disgust ran through my mouth and brain, I quickly let the food slide out of my mouth and back into the tray, while I made horrible, guttural sounds with my mouth hanging wide open, as I searched desperately for my drink. Everyone in the lunch room was either frightened or sickened at the horror show taking place at my table. I was sickened as well, mostly about falling for this trap two times in a row. And once I was able to not look like a stroke victim trying to feed himself, I would let the rest of the world know.

And here we are.

Don’t buy these things. They are completely gross. Unless you want your workplace break room rights revoked.

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