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Quick Noodles: Unif Brand Instant Bowls

UniPresLogo.gif

As I mentioned yesterday, this is the start of Asian Noodles Month. First up is one of my favorite products: The Uni-President Enterprises line of instant noodle bowls.

I first met these tasty instant noodles during a very long stay in Taiwan in 2006. I grew tired of always eating out every night, so I walked over to the 7-Eleven across from my hotel. In Taipei, there’s always a 7-Eleven nearby; that city has more such stores per capita than anyplace else on the planet.

I found shelves full of different sizes of noodle bowls. The best tasting I found were called Q Noodles, by Uni-President. When I got back to the States I looked around for these, but I couldn’t find any.

A year ago or so a new Asian supermarket opened in our town, and I stopped in to see what they stocked. I found some noodle bowls that looked familiar, including the bird-like logo I’d come to recognize while in Taiwan. However, the brand said Unif, and the product was called Super Bowl. I tried them out and found them remarkably similar to the Q Noodles I was used to.

Turns out, yes, they’re by the same company…

Uni-President is based in Tainan, Taiwan, and is now a global conglomerate. They pretty much own the instant noodles marketplace in Taiwan, and have manufacturing plants also in Vietnam, the Philippines, and Guangzhou, China. they export to over 30 countries worldwide. The Q Noodles line is primarily for domestic Taiwanese consumption, while the Super Bowl noodles are produced in China for export to the USA. As near as I can tell from reading financial reports and such, Uni-President also exports these same noodles under similar names and brands to Europe and elsewhere.

The Super Bowl line of noodles comes in several flavors. I like their pork, roasted beef, and spicy beef bowls the best. They also make shrimp and others. I haven’t found their Tong-I (pronounced tong-yi) packaged noodles yet, but when I do I’ll try them as well. The bowls are quite large and cost about $1.40 here; the same size Q Noodles in Taiwan went for 21 NTD, or about $0.70 at the time. The taste of these noodles is worth it!

The spicy beef is my favorite. As with all these noodle bowls, you first pull the paper back a bit more than halfway and pour the seasonings on the noodles. Then you add boiling water to nearly the top of the heavy paper bowl, push the lid paper back down and wait 3-4 minutes. I use the weight of my chopsticks to hold the paper down while the noodles steep. When ready you simply stir and enjoy.

Under each lid there’s a clear packet of dried herbs and veggie bits; a metal foil packet holding seasoning powder; and a translucent packet containing oil and hot spices. For each variety of Q Noodle and Super Bowl there is always these three packets. The veggie pack always looks the same, as does the oil one. However, the oil contains different types and levels of spicy heat, depending on the flavor marked on the bowl. The powder in the foil is the bouillon, of course, so it’s quite a bit different between flavors of product.

If you can find these Super Bowl Instant Noodles, they’re pretty much the top of the line for quick, cheap noodles, in my opinion. You’ll need to search hard, though; not every specialty Asian market carries them, and I’ve never seen them in the Asian foods aisle in standard markets hereabouts. We have a fairly large Asian contingent in Austin, so I would think these products should be more generally available. Maybe in the future (say, after they read this review) …

Enjoy the (Taiwanese Instant Noodle) Heat!

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