Cheap Eats at Bloglander

Your guide to eating cheap including tips, recipes and techniques

Archive for July, 2009

[ Currently Eating: Chicken Porridge ]

Maruchan Yakisoba - Cheap Eats at Bloglander

Well, well, well, well.


Here is what I have to say:

I guess I would eat this Maruchan Teriyaki Yakisoba during or after an earthquake which devastated all the earth’s food supplies. Hella yes.

Otherwise, I probably won’t be eating this again.

Don’t misunderstand me. I’m usually game for a revisit on any of these dollar junk food items. I think it may have something to do with the fact that I’ve come down with a bit of a stomach bug the past couple days. So talking about MSG laden instant noodles right now is not high on my priorities.

Oh poor me. I can feel reader sympathy dripping through the eaves like so much Diet Dr. Pepper.

Anyhow, here’s the deal. I’m pretty familiar with Yakisoba style dishes. My mom cooked it all the time for lunch. I think I’ve eaten enough of them, whether homemade, in a restaurant, fresh storebought and dried storebought to know that this particular Maruchan one is one of the lowest of low-brow yakisobas that you will get.

Please note, I’m not claiming to be a Yakisoba expert. I’m just saying I’ve eaten a lot of them.

Yakisoba (i.e. Fried Noodles) is basically a bastardized verison of Chow Mein, which (at most faux-Chinese restaurants) is often a sort of a bastardized, Americanized version of more traditional Chinese noodle dishes. Maruchan Yakisoba seems to be a bastardized version of normal Yakisoba itself, so by transitive property, you can fill in blanks.

That’s a lot of bastards.

I’m generalizing here, but usually it’s a kitchen sink compilation comprised of stir fried noodles with various bits of meat (pork, beef, chicken), veggies (carrots, cabbage, onion, water chestnuts, corn, bell pepper) in sauce that is reminiscient of Worcestshire, oyster or Tonkatsu sauces. It’s not that soupy usually – it’s more on the dry side, with the noodles absorbing the sauce so they turn brown in color.

I dunno if it’s traditional, but a lot of times you’ll put a fine dry seaweed powder on top. This is often called “Laver”, which, if you ask a few of my more traditional relatives, they may pronounce variously: “raver”, “lavel”, or “Ravel”. French Impressionist music and instant noodles, excellente.

Companies like Sapporo Ichiban have been making a dried variety of Yakisoba since forever. This is sort of my yardstick against which I was measuring this Maruchan variety. There’s also supposed to be a popular brand called “UFO” which I somehow haven’t tried yet. Maybe that’s next up on the review list.

Maruchan Yakisoba - Cheap Eats at Bloglander

I guess what drew me to this one in particular was the fact that it had it’s own “tray” and you could just add water and nuke it. Usually, Yakisoba is made in a frying pan – even the instant version. At least I used to make the instant variety in a pan. It tasted much better than this one.

I don’t know if not pan frying it might have affected the outcome a bit. I felt this version was wetter and much too soupy. The yakisoba I’ve had before, whether in a restaurant or the instant variety, is almost always nearly dry. They have two packets in this box. The first is the dehydrated “vegetables” which are more for morale than anything else. You heat that up with the noodles and water. The second packet is the sauce flavor one, which you dump in at the end.

Maruchan Yakisoba - Cheap Eats at Bloglander

Here’s a breakdown:

The noodles – Hey, let’s hear it for instant ramen noodles. They are pretty much the same noodles you’d find in typical ramen. The color was a little light for Yakisoba, I was wondering if perhaps I missed sprinkling all the sauce packet into the tray in my rush to eat it. The fresh packaged versions of Yakisoba noodles are 10 times better if you can get it (look for it in specialty Asian markets), but still, I guess I’d eat this during an earthquake.

The sauce – They say “teriyaki” flavor – I’m not sure what that has to do with anything, but I did notice that this tastes a little different than your standard yakisoba sauce, which is worcestshire flavored. It’s a bit sweeter, and does seem Teriyaki flavored. As I said before, this is more watery than usual. I want to say I taste some sort of apple thingy as well. It had MSG to the Max, pidgin style. But I guess I would eat it during an earthquake.

Veggie packet – I don’t know why they even bother. These are the same dehydrated bits of carrot and onions that you get in Cup O Noodles. Except for the addition of some cabbage shreds, which were actually the highlight of the meal, I could do without the obligatory veggie specks. If they really wanted to cut costs, they should just omit it and lower the price by 50 cents or so. Actually, if I remember correctly, the Sapporo Ichiban dried version doesn’t have any veggies at all in it, thus leading to a much lower price. Again, I would eat it before during or after an earthquake.

Overall – I guess what I have to say is that I would eat this before, during or after a debilitating earthquake. The convenience of the tray to let you warm it up in the microwave is sort of lost on me. I think I would rather spend less and get the lowest brow Ichiban variety. It’s nothing like fresh packaged yakisoba or yakisoba made at a restaurant. But hell, what are you going to do during an earthquake anyhow.

Price: $0.99 for 4 oz.
Found At: Fresh & Easy
Cheap Eats Score: 3/10

[Editor's Note: You may notice I seem to be mighty concerned about earthquakes. This is true, mainly because I am able to psychically predict them. I do this by eating a plate of Yakisoba and counting the number of times the noodles interweave. The next large one in California will be on August 5, 2015. You heard it here first. Still lots of time to stock up on supplies...]

[ Currently Eating: Fresh and Easy Burrito ]

Baked Spaghetti - Cheap Eats at Bloglander


I enjoyed that vacation WAY too much. I’ve been having to force myself to get back on the ball. While I decompress from the delicious vacay-afterglow, I’ll have to leave you with a mere Leftovers for Lunch post today.

I actually can’t remember if I posted this before. In all likelihood, I’ve put it up previously. Oh well. I was unloading vacation photos and decided to do a full camera dump. This picture of baked spaghetti was in the mix, so I decided to use it. Baked pasta is a great way to use up leftovers. You can actually do it as the initial meal and bake it fresh, or resurrect spaghetti leftovers from two days ago. Melted cheese makes any leftovers taste better.

And because I have nothing better to talk about, I will now sum up baked pasta in a William Carlos Williams style quote:

so much depends

a leftover

glazed with orange

inside the white

Have a poetic pasta day.

7/8/09 | On Vacay…

[ Currently Eating: Bread and Stuff ]

Hi there Cheap Eaters. Just wanted to let you know that I’ll be on break for at least a few weeks. I didn’t feel like rewriting the post about the whole vacation thingy, so you can read more about it on Cheaplander.

OK, I’ll see you all in a bit!

[ Currently Eating: Coffee With Cream ]

Spag Shapes - Cheap Eats at Bloglander

I am not a pretty, pretty princess.

This is not the story of my life living with a Jamaican lobster “Under da Sea”. It’s sort of the story of A Man, a Plan, a Can – Disney Princess Spaghettios. But drat, my palindromic powers are lacking. How about “Omelette was I ere I saw Elmo?” Closer, but wrong movie. And food type.

I did not dress up last Halloween as Ariel. Sometimes I wish I did, because I probably would have gotten more candy than when I dressed up as Richard Nixon. Can you just imagine answering the door and being greeted with “Trick or treat, I’m not a crook” while holding out a bag…

I do not have the hots for Robert Pattinson. But that would be an interesting mix. I think a Disney vampire princess cartoon would sell like hotcakes. Or has that been done already…

I don’t have any posters of these Disney princesses on the wall. Parents with young daughters are rightfully quaking in their shoes at the sight of the Holy Trinity of the Disney-fied Apocalypse on this can – Ariel, Belle and Cinderella. ABC, 123, shoot me now please.

And so on.

One of the difficulties when writing product reviews, is that you’d suspect that this can of Spaghettios Shapes would practically write it’s own review. The problem is that it’s TOO easy to make fun of. It’s like shooting cans of Spam in a barrel.

There are too many inside princess jokes I’d like to spew forth, and too many pop culture references that beg to be mashed up with Spaghettios lore. So what happens is that I start to ramble, to sling those fine Dungeons and Dragons asides. I become comfortably incomprehensible. And inevitably, it turns into one of THOSE reviews.

But I promised myself I wouldn’t do that this time. The only way I can find to mute the mouth is to show a bunch of pictures of the product. It takes up room in the post and makes me feel like I’ve written more than I actually have.

Anyhow, there’s not much more to say on the taste of Spaghettios. We’ve reviewed them before, and once you’ve tasted one can, you’ve tasted them all. The only difference is whether they include meatballs, and what shape the extruded noodles are in. Marketing and packaging – that’s all it is.

Spag Shapes - Cheap Eats at Bloglander

This first thing I have to say about the packaging is that I think something is wrong with the above sentence. But I can’t figure it out. “Cool shapes shaped pasta in tomato and cheese sauce.” Maybe I’m wrong – after all I just write written reviews about cans of canned food.

Spag Shapes - Cheap Eats at Bloglander

There was a surprising diversity of shapes in the can – however, I was disappointed to note that perhaps 50 percent of the shapes were simple “O’s”. Man, if you’re going to go through the trouble of promoting the Disney movies, why not include omit those O shapes? Because (as a future reader will no doubt write in to tell me) then you couldn’t call it Spaghettios any more. And there goes your brand name.

Beyond the shapes, everything else was pretty much what you’d expect. Inhalable noodles in a sweet orange sauce. When I was heating this up in a pot, I was already prepared to be disappointed by the lack of pasta shapes that actually corresponded to the pictures on the can. The shapes that I saw on first glance looked nothing like princesses, castles, carriages or crowns. OK, maybe the crown did look accurate. They looked pretty unrecognizable. I could see why this was on clearance for 90 cents.

Spag Shapes - Cheap Eats at Bloglander

I wouldn’t have blamed them if they didn’t include ALL the “Seven Enchanting Princess Shapes.” After all, who’s going to keep track of stuff like that? What kind of idiot would actually sit there carefully pick the different noodle shapes out of boiling spaghetti sauce? What kind of OCD maniac would try and identify each of the shapes, set them aside on a plate and try to take a photo of them in the same configuration as the picture on the can?

Spag Shapes - Cheap Eats at Bloglander

Price: $.90 for 15 oz.
Found At: Ralph’s
Cheap Eats Score: 4/10

[Editor's Note: I actually have a soft spot for Ariel since this was the first movie my wife and I ever saw together. Uh, I think that was 20 years ago. But no, I still won't put up a Little Mermaid poster on the wall. Also, yes I know the "Carriage" noodle shape above is rotated clockwise 90 degrees. I did that on purpose as a silent protest against the death of carriages.]

[ Currently Eating: Potato Salad Sandwich ]

PotatoSaladSando - Cheap Eats at Bloglander

OK, here’s a quickie Leftovers for Lunch post for today. Whenever we make potato salad for parties, we usually make extra and set it aside for ourselves. The next day, I usually make a potato salad sandwich. I know. It sounds a bit strange, but trust me, it’s actually pretty good. Kind of like an egg salad sandwich, but with potato in it.

We make our potato salad differently than the traditional American variety you might buy in those tubs at a supermarket. No mustard or dressing or onions or herbs, and light on the mayo. It’s a very light, clean tasting salad. We use a pretty high ratio of hard boiled eggs. We also throw in cubed cooked carrots, cucumbers (we use either the persian pickles or japanese cucumbers) and occasionally apples.

I like to spread it on warm french bread, but it tastes great on pretty much any type of bread. The great thing about potato salad in sandwiches is that the mixture clumps together, making it easily spreadable on bread. And since potato salad invariably tastes better the next day (or the day after that), it’s perfect for incorporating into leftover lunches.



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