Monday, September 9, 2013

Fusia Beef with Broccoli Frozen Entree (Aldi)

The very definition of "meh".

Where I live, we have a lot of average (and below) Chinese food restaurants.  Our go-to one, which I had been going to for the last decade, recently changed owners and the good food went with it, which has really left a little void in our lives.  And it’s a void I’m trying to fill with Fusia’s Beef with Broccoli frozen meal, which is a special buy at Aldi (in fact, by the time I finally get around to posting this, it will probably be gone already).

The one thing I use to gauge a Chinese food restaurant is its beef.  At cheaper Asian restaurants it is often soft and chewy, doesn't really even look like beef, and the taste can run the gamut from “something resembling beef”, to “something that doesn’t even come close to resembling beef”, which is probably how the cliché about runaway dogs and cats ending up in Chinese food has come about.

The beef in Fusia’s frozen meal is pretty much a perfect example of the whole questionable beef thing:  The cuts of “meat” here more closely resemble meat-colored sponge, than anything approaching the actual stuff.  It’s an almost sickly-looking light brown hue that had me scrambling for the bag to see what it was called in the ingredients.  Surprisingly, “beef”.  Sound unappetizing?  It is.  Taste-wise, it’s a little bit closer to what you’re expecting, though it won’t be confused for anything short of take-out as it‘s disturbingly chewy and very unmemorable.

Mystery meat aside, the rest of the meal isn’t too bad.  One thing I love about the Fusia line is they generally include two bags of sauce with their meals, which really puts you in control of how you want to use them, and the Beef with Broccoli is no different.  This sounds a little corny, but most frozen dinners I’ve had really skimp in this department, so it’s great to have the option to put in a lot, a little, or to save the extra bag for the leftovers.  Here, the sauce isn’t anywhere near as good as it is in the Sweet and Sour or General Tso’s offerings, but it’s definitely edible.  It’s just a middle-of-the-road, generic brown sauce that thankfully at least doesn’t taste too salty.  Meanwhile (read: sadly), the broccoli becomes the star of the show, as it’s pretty well-cooked and, while it doesn’t taste fresh, at least looks and tastes like broccoli.

It’s lucky I was starved, or half of it would have probably ended up in the trash can.

Overall: 3.5/10.  Aldi’s Fusia line, which specializes in Asian cuisine, usually ends up being really good for what it is (frozen Chinese), but this is the first entrée I’ve had that has truly disappointed.  The sauce is decent, you get a lot of it, and the broccoli is good, but the sickly-looking, spongy-textured meat is definitely a huge misstep.  At $4.99, and not including rice, we can’t even talk value, as chances are you live near a take-out Chinese place serving rubbish like this for just a couple dollars more.  While it rises above being truly inedible (slightly), it’s still not a pleasant experience.  My advice to you:  Stay far away from this one.  Even within the realm of budget frozen foods, you can do a lot better than this.

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