Friday, March 17, 2017

Thai Smile Spring Onion Rice Noodle Soup Bowl (Big Lots)

"Thai Smile" sounds like a slang term for a torture technique.

My wife and I were going through a phase of intense brokeness when I went to Big Lots, looking for something really inexpensive that I could eat as a snack. I tend to like snacking throughout the day, and will often have a quick little something right when I get home; I get home so early on most days, that dinner is still at least three hours away, and I can’t always wait that long.

Most of the things they had looked either too expensive, unappetizing, or a blatant combination of both-- until my eyes settled on soup bowls by the terrifyingly-named company, Thai Smile. I always liked the “instant lunch” noodles (the ones in the Styrofoam plastic cup, complete with dried peas and carrots), and this looked to be a slightly more advanced version of that.

When you open the bowl, you’ll find three packets, all of which are curiously (and idiotically) shoved underneath the noodles: a packet of seasoning, a packet of what are called “vegetables”, but look more like green flecks, and a creepy packet of oil. The noodles themselves are different than the standard noodles found in products like this, in that they are white, and relatively short--you won’t have a chance to twirl them around your fork. Prepwork is simple: Add the contents of each packet to the noodle bowl, fill with water up to the fill line, and microwave for up to three minutes. Voila! Instant soup!

The broth that’s created is actually really good, mainly courtesy of the seasoning packet. I’m not ashamed to say I had a small sample before I added it in to the water, and it reminded me a lot of the kind of seasoning you’d find on a potato chip…there’s a real strong sweet onion flavor, which if you’re eating something with that name, should be expected. The liquid looks an unappetizing shade of green, kind of like pea soup, but the taste should get you passed that pretty quickly. The noodles don’t really add much flavor, but the combination of them with the broth is good. It’s nothing spectacular, but then again, it’s only a dollar, and you probably shouldn’t expect it to be.

I’d say it’s a few notches above Ramen (which I’ve never gotten into, even in my poorest life phases), and also a slight bit above the Styrofoam cup noodle bowls. For a dollar, you really can’t beat the price, and there are a generous enough amount of noodles that it makes it the perfect snack--there’s no way you’re going to get filled up, so if you just want something to hold you over for a couple of hours, this is the way to go.

The biggest drawback, which is typical of products like this, is the sodium content: Just one bowl contains 52% of your daily sodium “needs”. Now, I would assume that as long as you don’t drink all the broth, you can probably cut that number back a bit, but even just by taking a bite, you can tell that sodium content is high. At least it has some good flavor to help justify the high salt content, though. It's a pretty tasty alternative to standard ramen noodles that packs enough flavor that it's worth picking up.

Overall: 7/10. It’s loaded with salt (as most of these products are), but the creepily-named Thai Smile has crafted a decent little noodle bowl here, available for $1 at (select?) Big Lots stores. The noodles are different than typical noodle bowls, in that they are stiffer and can’t be twirled around your fork…I guess that’s just adding to the “authentic” nature of this no doubt accurately cultured soup bowl! However, the taste really is pretty good, with the sweet onion shining through, and there are a lot of noodles to be had, so while it won’t fill you up, it makes a pretty good snack. They have several different varieties of these at my local Big Lots, and after trying this, I wouldn’t hesitate to try another. In fact, I did (see below).

4 comments:

  1. Hi! I found your blog while looking for Aldi reviews. Just popping in since I saw your confusion about Tom Yum.
    Tom Yum is generally hot/spicy and sour shrimp flavor. (At least, that's my experience with tom yum ramen of different brands). It's generally more bearable than the hot and sour soups at chinese buffets. (I like to dilute that with another soup to tone it down)

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    1. Aaah, thanks for your comment! I don't eat ramen of any kind that often, so am unfamiliar with a lot of those flavors...I just saw these bowls for $1 and decided to give them a shot. That certainly helps to clarify things!

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  2. I've been through some really rough times financially, it's a surprise I never adapted to a Ramen noodle diet at all. I do like those cup-o-noodles/instant lunch bowls, for lunch at work. I won't eat them at home though

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    1. We're in the middle of yet another financial crisis, and neither have we. I mean, as you can see I get them from time to time, and I do enjoy them, but it's never been a consistent part of our diet, and never will be. Just too salty and lacking any real substance, imo.

      But they are cheap, so a couple of times a year I tned to suck it up and get some.

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