Aji WOW is my series of unusual Japanese food/drink reviews. 'Aji' (味) means 'flavour', and the name's also a pun on 'ajiwau' (味わう) - 'to enjoy the taste of'.
This time: Cup Noodle's Mystery Meat Festival pot.
2016 is the 45th anniversary of Cup Noodle. There are several new 'rich' flavours out - including 'odourless garlic oxtail soup' and 'luxuriously thick imitation shark fin soup'. Don't those sound delicious?
All the existing flavours have brand new cup designs as well, with colourful fireworks.
The main attraction, however, is the big Mystery Meat edition.
I've been very lucky to get my hands on this.
When the Mystery Meat Festival flavour first came out, demand far exceeded supply. Cup Noodle had to put sales on hold - after only 3 days - until they'd produced enough.
As soon as I saw it back in shops, I snapped one up. I suspect I'm not the only one who did. The tray I nabbed it from looked like it was likely stacked much higher before.
The 'mystery meat' in this Cup Noodle is an extra big helping (10x) of cubed mince. Minced what, exactly, nobody seems to know. That's where the name comes from. The cubes in standard Cup Noodles have been nicknamed 'mystery meat' for a while. The label on this one mentions chicken extract and pork extract, but no definite meat.
Let's take a look under the lid, shall we?
That's what ten times the normal amount of meat looks like.
I make that around 35-40 bits by sight, which puts the 'standard' number of meat cubes at 7-8. Wow. I was expecting not to be able to see noodle underneath. At least it looks like there's also more spring onion in there than usual.
I don't have a comparable photo from after the hot water went in. Because it's a 'BIG' Cup Noodle, once you mix the mystery meat cubes in they mostly disappear. Stir the noodles to the top, and you'd be hard pressed to see anything else.
Thankfully it tastes a little different to your average Cup Noodle. The 'pepper shoyu' flavour is noticeable, especially in the meat. See the speckles? They're kinda spicy. Also chewy. I wouldn't be surprised to discover they're just meat-flavoured tofu in the end.
There's not much point me commenting on whether I'd eat this again, as I'm unlikely to get the opportunity. It made a reasonable quick and cheap dinner. My favourite Cup Noodle overall is still Curry, and it's a lot easier to find on shelves.