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Life’s little things: pot noodles

Mark Jorgensen’s occasional series road testing the modest food delights which make life worth living

Published on November 23rd 2010.

Life’s little things: pot noodles

For a while in university, there was a time when Pot Noodles teamed up with lager to provide my only sustenance. I survived and still look back at these times with fond memories.

Despite this, I can’t actually think of many occasions when I’ve had Pot Noodles since. Although nostalgically I have some form of affection for them as a guilty pleasure.

Truth is though they’ve always had a very prosthetic feel and I always think you must always be wary of any pre-made ‘meals’ whose preparation instructions are simply ‘add boiling water’. Nevertheless, it’s a guarantee that most people will have tucked in to their fair share over a lifetime.

But is Pot Noodle technically a Ramen? Purists or anyone with a sense of decency would say no, but I think technically yes. I’d always figured that they were simply a bastardised British ready-meal version of a traditional Japanese favourite.

In the Hong Wan Kong supermarket on George St in Chinatown, Confidential found a seemingly more authentic version in the form of Cup Noodles, albeit from Hong Kong. We decided to compare with the Golden Wonder standard.

So the two contenders are chicken and mushroom pot noodle available everywhere at £1.04 and the chicken flavour Cup Noodles from Hong Wan Kong supermarket at 80p

Both pots look roughly the same at first glance but as soon as you peel the top off, The Cup Noodles are full to the brim, possibly meaning you get twice the amount than in the half-full Pot Noodle.

Winner: Cup Noodles

The Cup Noodles are packed with pleasant vermicelli-looking noodles covered with a selection of dried veg such as sweet corn, cabbage, carrots and some small lumps of matter which looked more like spicy beef from a dodgy pizza place than chicken. The Pot Noodles, however, are about half a cup full of some sorry looking noodles with a huge pile of mustard coloured sawdust with no identifiable contents other than a couple of pieces of sweet corn. Importantly, though, the Cup Noodles omission of a sachet of Soy Sauce found in Pot Noodles seemed a glaring error.

Winner: Cup Noodles. Just.

Simply for the fact that it was something new, I opted for the Cup Noodles first. The noodles were surprisingly very good, long, soft and similar to noodles you’d get in your average takeaway. The spicy beef/chicken/dark matter stuff was actually not bad either. As far as soya goes, it was soft, reasonably tasty and nowhere near as galling to eat as I’d first anticipated when they were dry. Unfortunately, the whole thing did seem to be pretty much just noodles. The vegetables on top I’d been impressed with initially turned out to be all of them and I was left picking round looking for more. The sauce/soup/water was just nothingness, very bland without the extra sauce.Going for the Pot Noodle afterwards, I was a little bit appalled with the quality of the noodles.

They’d been left for even longer and the thick, yellow shoelaces were tough and pretty horrendous. This isn’t how I remembered them. The quantities of each bit were spot on, though with more and more pieces of corn, mushroom and chicken-ish bits seeming to have spawned from the centre of the sawdust volcano. Taste-wise, it was arguably better. It seems a bit chemically artificial but it’s thicker, richer and while it’s probably helped by the additional sachet, I think it would be better even without it.

Winner: Draw. The Pot Noodle is much tastier but the difference in noodle quality is paramount. The noodles are fairly rudimentary in what is basically a pot/cup of flavoured noodles.

Overall winner: Cup Noodle. Cheaper, better noodles and you can just add your own additional sauce. I’ll, sadly, never eat a Pot Noodle again.

Final observation: In a measure of rubbishness Cup Noodles are slightly less rubbish. It’s a Chinese triumph.

One last point: if you conduct such tests then expect to garner odd looks if your flat mates should arrive home halfway through the experiment and find you eating what is essentially two pot noodles, as though you have a real and secret lust for them.

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ramboNovember 23rd 2010.

While I believe the mushrooms are straight from Satan's arse I actually have a strange love for C&M pot noodles. Synthetic shrooms rock.

Mark JorgensenNovember 23rd 2010.

..so synthetic mushrooms are the theoretical fungus from God's divine bellybutton then Rambo?

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