Tuesday, October 1, 2019

Eat! Asian Style Beef with Broccoli Frozen Meal (Dollar Tree)

Don't even bother.
“Eat!” is the name of Dollar Tree’s new frozen food line, and from what I can tell from the very limited collection of information available online, it’s manufactured exclusively for them. Now “Why?” is another question that begs to be asked, given the fact Dollar Tree already has plenty of name brand frozen meals available—perhaps the plan is to eventually phase those out and stick to “their” brands...but this is nothing more than conjecture at this stage.

Anyway, your dollar gets you either 7.5 oz. or 8 oz. of food (depending on the entrĂ©e), which is either slightly below, or right at the “norm” for frozen supermarket fare (as a comparison, the national brand carried by DT has 8 oz. of food; Main Street Kitchen, manufactured by Kraft-Heinz and available here, as well as other national retailers, offer up 9).

Initial observations: The sauce looks pretty delicious and inviting, a dark brown “thickquid” (thick liquid) that strongly reminds me of the sauce in Aldi’s delicious noodle bowls; my mouth immediately began watering when my mind went to that, and I was hoping this would be able to deliver a similarly tasty experience. The noodles also heightened by expectations a bit, by being appropriately soft, but without the sliminess of some brands…in other words, this has a rather inviting texture given its frozen nature.

Ooh, look at those appealing chunks of meat-flavored sponge.
Digging in, I found that the sauce actually does have a nice little injection of “sweet” that seems like it’s trying to counterbalance the soy sauce-style saltiness that’s prevalent, but it ends up being overwhelmed by both the sodium, as well as the finishing blast of heat that slowly overtakes the tastebuds the longer the sauce-soaked noodles linger in the mouth. The heat isn’t strong enough that most people will be making a mad dash to the fridge for some milk, or blotting away the sweat from their face with tissues, but it’s stronger than some mainstream fare. Personally, I would have liked a little more sweetness in there, just to strike a better balance between the two opposing flavor spectrums, but despite falling short of my hope/expectation combo, it’s still a palatable sauce, and one that I would voluntarily eat again if it were a part of something else.

The beef, meanwhile, is where everything falls apart; it’s exactly the reason why no meat of any kind should ever be sold inside dollar stores. It looks almost identical to the meat found in wet dog food, and has a flavor to match, with a weird taste that comes off like a lifelong vegan’s attempt to replicate the taste and flavor of meat using Google as their only research tool. Even the texture feels off, with an almost sponge-like consistency that will leave even the most discerning eater questioning what it is they're actually eating.

Take that out, and you have a more palatable meal, although “Noodles with Sauce” just doesn't have much of an attention-grabbing ring to it. It's quick and convenient, but this is something that I will never eat again, short of an apocalyptic scenario where this is somehow the only thing available after survivalists have raided all the good food.

Overall: 4.5/10. Take out the beef—which looks and tastes like wet dog food, with an eerie sponge-like texture--and you’d have a more palatable meal here, although that would also only leave you with wet noodles and sauce. So really, it's just best to stay away from this one, which is probably the worst entry in Eat!'s very limited resume. Will these be replacing the name brand frozen meals available inside Dollar Tree stores? If this is a good indication of what we can expect, we can only hope not.

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