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Dr. Gourmet's Food Reviews

Annie Chun's and Simply Asia

Shelf-stable noodle bowls

the Dr. Gourmet tasting panel reviews the Sesame Soy Noodles from Annie Chun's

For this week's review I found myself back in the shelf-stable noodle aisle. Almost a year ago we tested two shelf-stable curries from Annie Chun's, which surprised us for their fiber content and flavor. Then just a couple months later we found Simply Asia's Noodle Bowls, and reviewed two, to mixed reviews. Today we have two more bowls - one from each company.

Where the two bowls we had from Annie Chun's were based on a quinoa and rice mix, today's Sesame Soy Noodles (280 calories, 570mg sodium, 6g fiber) are based on the clear vermicelli noodles made from rice (this one is gluten-free). Like the Simply Asia products, this Annie Chun's package includes the pre-cooked rice along with a packet of vegetables, a packet of sauce, and a packet of sesame oil:

the contents of the package of Sesame Soy Noodles from Annie Chun's

The difference between the Annie Chun's product and the Simply Asia product, however, is that the vegetables aren't dehydrated. These are real, pre-cooked mung bean sprouts, mushrooms, bamboo shoots, julienned carrots, and what look like green onions (but are apparently Chinese water spinach, according to the package).

the contents of the package of Sesame Soy Noodles from Annie Chun's, before cooking

The finished product is... disappointing. The noodles stand up surprisingly well to microwaving and don't break up as so many rice noodles do. The vegetables are tender and the carrots and mung beans still have some crunch. After cooking you are instructed to add the included sesame oil, so we expected that it would taste of sesame - but it doesn't. The thick, brown sauce is slightly sweet and reminded our panel of a teriyaki sauce, but "sesame-flavored this is not," they said.

The whole seems "slightly generic," and "kind of boring." With better options on the market from Annie Chun's, leave this one on the shelf.

We really should have known better about the Sesame Teriyaki Noodle Bowl from Simply Asia (420 calories, 600mg sodium, 4g fiber).

The Dr. Gourmet tasting panel reviews the Sesame Teriyaki Noodle Bowl from Simply Asia

Like the other two bowls we tested, this is simply a bowl of pre-cooked noodles (not gluten-free) with a packet of sauce, a packet of dehydrated vegetables, and a little packet of garnish - this time sesame seeds.

the Sesame Teriyaki Noodle Bowl from Simply Asia, after cooking

This variety did not turn out as well as the two previous versions.

First, the noodles stuck together and remained stuck together after cooking, with a definitely chewy texture.

The dehydrated vegetables remained (mostly) dehydrated after cooking, despite the instructions to add 2 tablespoons of water.

The sauce certainly smells like teriyaki sauce, but not only did it taste extremely salty, the panel noted that the chemical flavor, which we also encountered to some degree in the previous two varieties, was far more apparent here.

No matter. This is still basically noodles and sauce, but this time the sauce is particularly bad. Don't bother.

Read all reviews from Annie Chun's »

Review posted: November 15, 2019