Friday, March 17, 2017

Thai Smile Tom Yum Thai Rice Noodle Soup Bowl (Big Lots)

I'm just going to assume "Tom Yum Thai" is the name of the guy who invented it.
A while back I made the tough decision to ignore the terrifying brand name “Thai Smile”, and purchased their Sweet Onion noodle soup bowl. I had no expectations going in, since the bowl was only $1, but it ended up being pretty good, much in the same way that ramen noodles are good: they are dirt cheap, and edible. I would definitely get that variety again, but then I saw there was another option: Tom Yum Thai. Unlike “sweet onion”, which is pretty straightforward, I had no idea what Tom Yum Thai even alludes to as a flavor; even after trying it, I have to say I still don't. As with all of these cheap soup/noodle bowls, the main flavor you're going to get is that of excessive salt forcing its way into your body, where it will attempt to slowly kill you from within. The next sensation caught me a little off guard, and that was of my mouth immediately catching fire. At first I thought I had just neglected to stir the seasoning packet thoroughly, and all I was getting was a mouthful of salty seasoning, but future bites proved my initial thoughts: this stuff is pretty hot, especially if you aren't expecting it.

Now, I'm very weak when it comes to tolerating heat in foods, so for the experienced, or the hot sauce enthusiasts, this probably wouldn't make you bat a lash. But for those that aren't, this packs quite a little punch. Even for me, it wasn't overboard to the point that I needed to frantically drink cold liquids to extinguish it, but it did make me wait a little bit between bites just to let the tongue naturally cool down. The effect was a little worse for my wife (who, ironically, is a hot sauce junkie), as she coughed and started chugging on some kind of beverage right away, only to continue her coughing fit for a little while afterwards. So I guess it's not just me after all.

Once you get passed that, you're met with a...sour taste. Again, I wasn't really expecting that. My wife, who hated it, said it tasted “spoiled”, but I didn't think the taste was that offensive. It reminded me of a soup that I had at a Chinese buffet once, a comparison that's rather poor to use because, a.) I don't remember what it was (maybe it was called “hot and sour”?), and b.) I hated it. I thought this stuff was a lot better than that (I could easily finish this), but it's still not a flavor profile that really interests me.

On the plus side, it's only a dollar, and you really do get a decent amount of broth and noodles for the price, so it can't really hurt to give this a shot if you think it might be your thing. It just wasn't really mine much at all.

Overall: 5/10. It's edible, and it's $1, so that should be enough to entice those on a very tight budget, but I just didn't like the flavor of this much at all. It starts off pretty spicy, which caught me completely off guard, and then settles down into a weird, tart sourness that I also wasn't prepared for (I had no idea what Tom Yum Thai was going into it, and I have to confess that I still don't). It didn't appeal to me much, but I didn't have problems polishing off the whole bowl. I also like the weird, thin rice noodles that they use here, which don't have much taste, but add an interesting texture. I don't tend to get noodle bowls very often, but as far as Thai Smile goes, I'll be sticking to the sweet onion varity if I ever want another cheap snack.

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