Tuesday, December 3, 2019

Whole & Simple Korean Inspired Beef Grain Bowl (Aldi)

Fantastic.

Well, talk about something I wouldn’t typically get! This Whole & Simple grain bowl wouldn’t be a likely candidate for me for a number of reasons: for example, it’s Korean, and I’m not typically attracted to Korean food. It’s also a “grain bowl”, which usually means “a bunch of healthy shit thrown into a bowl without regard to texture or flavor that we can charge five times more for." And if there's something I'm going to pay more for, it's probably not going to be anything of nutritional substance.

But then I read the box, and my mouth actually started to water a little bit. While it might be Korean (“inspired”, but still Korean), none of the ingredients would be out of place in American cuisine, which set my mind at ease. Each bowl contains brown rice, barley, red quinoa, carrots, shiitake mushrooms, kale, spinach, bamboo shoots, and sesame seeds…pretty much the same things you'd find in American "power bowls". I was already leaning toward getting it, and then my eyes wandered up to the price: $2.99. Three dollars for all of this stuff? That’s basically the cost of a typical frozen meal, yet I was getting loads of perceived "superfoods", or "power morsels", or whatever keywords marketing execs are tossing around these days. Considering any "power food" usually goes for $5 or more, I was sold, and ended up taking it to work with me the next day.

You don't have to go to a douchy, overpriced restaurant for this!
Aaaah yeah, this stuff is delicious as hell. See? This is why we should try new things instead of just relying on the same ol’ thing time and time again. The meat somehow doesn’t look creepy (until you read the ingredients list and realize they’re called “Seasoned Beef and Modified Food Starch Strips”, which certainly don’t sound very appealing at all), instead looking like a well-cooked steak, sliced down into bite-sized chunks.

My wife and I looked (briefly) on the front of the box for information on the sauce, and could find nothing about it…we figured that maybe it was just in its own juices, or maybe even without a sauce altogether. Thankfully, that is not the case: the sauce here is strongly reminiscent of a something you would find in Chinese food, with a soy sauce base that adds some heat, and a touch of sweetness, to create an inviting blend. The meat and veggie combo would already taste good on its own, but the sauce really takes the flavor to the next level, preventing you from feeling like you’re eating something healthy, even though—for all intents and purposes—it’s healthier than your average frozen meal.

This seemed to be a Special Buy (I’m still getting acclimated to the layout and new products at our newly-remodeled Aldi store), and was dwindling in numbers. If this is the case, I’d be rather upset, considering this is a great alternative to the typical foods that I get for lunch, and one that I would at least get every month or so to take a break from my usual.

I’m not typically one to remark on the packaging, but there’s also something inviting about the food set against the white background that really makes it stand out, while also making it look slightly more upscale than similar offerings. This is a fantastic frozen meal for a great price.

Overall: 9/10. This is a fantastic frozen food…especially for the price! A delicious combination of veggies and a spicy brown sauce combine to form a delicious meal that I wouldn’t have expected to like half as much as I did! Given all the healthy ingredients, I expected the price to be through the roof---and was pleasantly surprised by the relatively meager $2.99 price tag (for 10 oz. of food). Unfortunately, it seems to be a special buy, so if you happen to stumble on it, grab it before it disappears again! 

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