Thursday, March 20, 2014

Survive! Red Curry Cup Noodle

Japanese curry has an interesting history. The reason it came to be a dish in Japan is not because of Indian influence, but instead through British sailors bringing the older English version of curry to Japan. Indian curry exists in Japan now as well; I've eaten it there and can vouch for the spiciness & authenticity - well, same 'authentic' as in Britain, I suppose!

However, keeping in mind that Japanese curry is based off of an English sailor's shipyard interpretation of Indian curry in the early 1900s, you can perhaps see where I'm going with isn't that spicy and it sure ain't hot.

Don't get me wrong, it's very tasty stuff. I eat Japanese curry every chance I get and we make it at home fairly often, too. It is significantly sweeter than Indian curry, and maybe more in line with the sort of curry gravy taste of McDonald's 'curry sauce', Chinese takeout curry, or in a jarred "curry" sauce - anything in England where the type of curry isn't specified, and you're getting nearer to the taste of Japanese curry. Except it is often sweeter tasting & has slightly more varied flavor profile - still not very spicy, though.

Of course, Japanese curry has variants just like any other, they just tend more to the sweet & mild side than the hot & spicy side. If you go to CoCoIchibanya, for instance, you're able to choose your spice level up to 10. When I was in Japan I tried it at a 6 and was feeling pleasantly heated up, but I think above that level it would be regarded as more of a novelty or challenge than as something the average consumer would actually choose. That's the vibe I got at least - I could be wrong!

Though, I don't feel wrong after tasting this cup noodle, which is meant to be so hot that your very survival may be in jeopardy while eating. Well, that's just not true.

So, like a lot of nice Japanese cup noodles (see my review of the Cheese Curry variety) there are lots of bits of dehydrated potatoes, assorted vegetables, and some sort of mystery meat. Now, I love horrible meat byproducts like jerky, summer sausage and spam - so I'm into this. If you're a fancy (and not the feast kind) you might not be into these bits of soft, spiced meatfood. You'd be missing out though.

It smelled decently spicy when I opened it up. A Google search reveals that this is meant to have more black & red pepper in it, and that might be the case, but black pepper sure isn't going to make anything 'hotter', and the red pepper must have gone from none to a pinch.

The taste was basically exactly like the plain curry cup noodles. Honestly, I couldn't detect any further spiciness. That's not to say it didn't taste good, or I wasn't happy that I had eaten it, it was just a bit of a disappointment because with the marketing language I presumed it might just have some real heat. The quality is all there at the same level as the other Japanese-produced cup noodles - quality spring in the noodles, nice toppings (as far as reconstituted goes, as good as it gets) and strong flavors.

I'd probably go for the cheese curry one before this, though!

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