The newest in the instant noodle giant’s world flavors series of cup noodles promises gooey cheese and a spicy kick. It delivers on one of those things…
The things that go into a good bowl of chili con carne — or just “chili” as it’s known in North America — can prove a surprisingly divisive topic. Bar brawls have almost certainly broken out for less than someone suggesting that one particular regional preparation is better than another, and, in certain parts of the American South, even waving a single bean in the vague direction of the pot is likely to get you shot.
Something we can probably all agree on, though, is that ramen noodles don’t really belong in anyone’s bowl of chili.
But here in Japan, where common ingredients for the spicy stew — including the all-important chili powder — can be hard to track down, the only real option available at the moment for satisfying a chili con carne craving is this new cup ramen from Nissin’s line of world flavor themed instant noodles.
Obviously, we were skeptical of Nissin’s “Cheese Mexican Chili” cup noodles (again, there are ramen noodles in here), but with no other options immediately on the table, and our chili-craving stomachs on the verge of squirming out of our gullets and hitching a ride to the Texas border of their own accord, we took the plunge anyway.
After adding boiling water and waiting the requisite three minutes, we pulled off the lid to a pleasant surprise: The broth in Nissin’s new noodle gives off an aroma that’s a dead ringer for the Southwestern-style recipes North American readers are no doubt familiar with. This was a surprise on a few levels, since it immediately triggered all kinds of nostalgic longing for mom’s home-cooked stuff, and because, well, Japan does not typically do Tex-Mex and Mexican food especially well.
Before proceeding to stuff our faces with the cup’s now very enticing contents, we also noted that one type of the multicolored, freeze dried food detritus that sits atop the uncooked cup noodles had actually transmogrified into an appetizingly gooey looking cheese-ish product. Filled with momentary glee, we swirled it into the broth to disperse its flavor before diving in.
The first thing we noticed as we munched on our first mouthful was that the beef analogue cubes — the kind you’ll find in nearly ever Nissin Cup Noodle — were infused with various chili spices and tasted great. These are definitely something we’d like to see more of. Unfortunately, the noodles and broth proved only passable — definitely tasting a lot like chili but not quite as spicy as we’d have liked — and the “CHEESE” advertised so prominently on the packaging is basically undetectable in amongst the other ingredients. Lesson learned: if you do spot a lump of the stuff, never swirl it in if you actually hope to taste it.
All in all, Nissin’s “Cheese Mexican Chili” Cup Noodle performed far better than we’d expected, and would probably make a great instant alternatives for homesick expats in a pinch, but it’s no replacement for the real deal (although it would have been disqualified regardless, because, jeez guys, there are noodles in here).
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