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Jun 25, 2009 10:25 AM

Lucky Chen Noodle Bowls

Just tried one of these, a new product I just saw for the first time today at Wasserman's, a relatively small grocery store on Main Street, and I have to say, I was fairly impressed. I ate it at home, but it would be great for travelling or to bring to work, if you have access to a microwave that you can use. I'm pretty sure the treif world has had this type of stuff for ages, but it's a new addition to the kosher world.

I had the Spicy Kung Pao flavor. It's a plastic bowl with four packets in it (or at least the flavor I chose): a package of pre-cooked noodles, a packet of sauce, a small packet of dehydrated vegetables (like for soup), and a smaller packet of chopped peanuts. You add an ounce of water to the noodles in the bowl and add the veggies. Microwave for two minutes, add sauce and peanuts, and you have a really decent lunch. I saw two other flavors, but went to their website, and they have five flavors in all. They have a symbol on the package saying this flavor is four out of five hot peppers, but those five peppers must be Jewish! In other words, it's really not that spicy, but we all know how timid many Jews are about flavors and spiciness (see thread on Shalom Bombay, for ex.) I definitely plan to try at least a couple of the other flavors.

it's OU, bishul yisroel, and for those who care, vegan.

By the way, I have no connection whatsoever to the company or anyone selling it; I was just impressed that it wasn't real drek.

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  1. it's actually luck chen. my husband has tried and enjoyed 3 of the 5 varieties

    17 Replies
    1. re: koshergourmetmart

      where can I find luck chen in brooklyn ?

      1. re: koshergourmetmart

        Oh. I get it. As in "lukshen" (noodles)!

        What does this cost?

        1. re: hanistor

          I have seen them priced at around $3.50 each.

          1. re: hindyg

            I believe Wasserman's is selling them for 3.09 (I think that's what I paid), and Supersol had them for $3.49.

            1. re: queenscook

              they are going to come out with more products in the future like soup and other flavors

              1. re: koshergourmetmart

                I'd love to see some rice dishes also. Either with toppings/flavors or plain rice that you can then add your own protein on top of.

                1. re: avitrek

                  I've seen plain rice bowls for sale at glatt express in Teaneck. Don't recall the brand name though.

              2. re: queenscook

                As of Friday, 11/13/2009, Brach's in the Five Towns (Long Island, NY) had 4 of the 5 flavors in stock, each for $1.99. I liked the flavors I've tried so far, but for sure they should have been rated 1/2 a pepper, not 4 peppers! (Phony advertising, if you ask me.) I found that while the packaging and cooking instructions don't lend themselves to non-kosher microwave ovens, and there are absolutely no instructions for stovetop or regular ovens, I simply disregarded the instructions and, after adding all other ingredients, filled the bowl with hot water, and had delicious steaming bowls of soup. I'm surprised that no attempt was made to design the product for the numerous kosher-keeping people who have access to hot water but don't have access to a kosher microwave oven.

                1. re: midasgold

                  I think there's a bit of a kick to the ones with 4 peppers (not all have 4), though perhaps 4 is a bit of an overstatement.

                  As far as making it in a non-kosher microwave . . . I don't see why you couldn't put it in 2 plastic bags (zip-loc or grocery-type), and make it that way. As long as it's double-wrapped, you're fine (at least according to the shiur I heard about food in the non-kosher workplace). It won't prevent the cooking, and it will be the double barrier needed.

                  I like them, and occasionally rely on them for an easy lunch at work. I'm not happy that they have are so many calories, so I don't have them frequently, but I do think the spicier ones are tasty.

                  1. re: queenscook

                    very interesting that you found a shuir about food in a non kosher it something I can find on the internet?

                    1. re: cheesecake17

                      The Star-K has a page about microwaving in a non-kosher microwave here:
                      They don't require double-wrapping in a clean ordinary, non-convection microwave, although I believe the OU does. Of course, many office microwaves aren't anything resembling clean, so even following the Star-K, you should double-wrap if you don't want to scrub it out.

                      1. re: GilaB

                        Very interesting article- I did not know that microwaving in a clean microwave was ok. I always thought that the micro had to be cleaned out, then a cup of water boiled in it, for it to be kosher.

                        My office microwave is pretty clean, and I can probably double wrap whatever I would put in it... but I guess something about the whole idea is a turn off.

                        1. re: GilaB

                          That is a very helpful link. Thank you.

                        2. re: cheesecake17

                          The shiur was given a few years ago in the Young Israel of KGH, where the associate rabbi is R. Yoel Schoenfeld, who also works in kashrut for the OU. I don't know if the shiur was recorded or uploaded anywhere.

                          Why do you feel the idea of double wrapping is a turn off? Two thin layers of Saran wrap or a double bag is really such a minor thing, in my experience. I usually take a bento-type box for lunch, and double wrap at home the containers that I'll have to heat up. This way, I just pop them in the microwave and there's no hassle at all.

                          1. re: queenscook

                            Not really double wrapping, but the whole idea of using the non kosher microwave at the office. People put all kinds of stuff in there to heat up, and I guess b/c I sit kind of near the kitchen, I smell it all. So I guess it's the smell that's the turnoff...

                          2. re: cheesecake17

                            When Spouse went to Cardozo Law School (YU) the kosher cafeteria had a microwave which was used by all the students, kosher and not. The microwave had posted instructions next to it about the double wrapping, etc. This was about 16 years ago, so this process isn't really anything new. I'm supposing that YU would tend to follow the OU's dicta.

              3. The original comment has been removed
                1. I finally tried it. I was suprised that the container is two servings according to the nutritional panel. I tried the soy ginger. A bit sweet and a bit bland. Would like to see more flavor.

                  9 Replies
                  1. re: hindyg

                    did you use the whole spice packet inside?

                    1. re: hindyg

                      This shouldn't be that surprising; it's a way for manufacturers to try to mislead consumers. Have you ever seen those large individual cookies they sell (like at delis or at the airport), and then look at the nutritional info, where it says that a cookie is four servings?!

                      1. re: queenscook

                        i do not think it is a misleading customers. The serving size is an established thing from the govt. If they put in a small amt - 1 servings worth you would feel cheated-it is the US way to supersize portions.

                        1. re: koshergourmetmart

                          But they are putting in a small amount as a serving, when everyone knows that there are things that are not shared or saved. A can of soda, for instance, is not a serving and a half, which is what I think it says on cans (I can't check because I don't have cans of soda around). Yes, perhaps an 8 oz. serving is what we "should" drink, but when you open a can of soda, the likelihood that you are only going to drink 8 oz. is very low indeed. You aren't going to put the open can in the fridge for your next meal four hours later, nor, generally, are you sharing it. Some packages should be labeled as single servings, because that's the way 95% of people consume them. But people aren't always so on top of these things; they see the calories per serving says 80, and they're OK with that. They may not read so carefully to see that those 80 calories are coming from only 2/3 that can of soda, and if they drink the whole can, as is typical, they actually will be consuming 120 calories (again, making up the numbers w/o a can here, though I think I recall those to be close to what they really are).

                          Just found the following online somewhere:
                          In some cases, reference amounts commonly consumed
                          per eating occasion are the required serving sizes.
                          Special rules apply for products that are sold in packages
                          expected to be consumed at one eating occasion that are
                          significantly smaller or larger than the reference amount.

                          Luck Chen is certainly not the only one that does it, and I knew how many calories and how much fat was in the whole thing before I ate it, but I do think it is a bit disingenuous to treat these clearly single-serving items as though they contain two (or even more) servings.

                        2. re: queenscook

                          the package is over 8oz of noodles and sauce. that amounts to 4oz per serving. thats twice as much as you would see per serving on a package of regular pasta.
                          2oz is the norm. now go compare

                          1. re: luckchenman

                            I find it ironic, since I'm the one who started this thread, and I have been one of your strong supporters, that I am the one being attacked. My point is simply that if you take this to work for lunch, practically no one will share this, just as when you are out of your house and buy a can of soda, you don't split it with someone else. Or maybe YOU do, but I've never seen it done. I work with people who live on sugared sodas, and they never just drink the 8 ounces of the so-called "serving."

                            1. re: luckchenman

                              One other thing about this . . . the 2 oz normal serving you refer to is 2 oz of DRY pasta. Two ounces of dry pasta cooks up to far more than 2 oz when prepared. The pasta in these bowls is already prepared, so it is like comparing apples and oranges, as they say.

                              That said, I had one for lunch just today, so I am still a fan, but I am also all for truth in advertising.

                              1. re: queenscook

                                Dear Queens Cook,

                                I agree with everything - absolutely everything - you say... about the product, the price, the packaging, and the truth in advertising issue. It is all but impossible to save the remaining soda from a can, without the soda going flat and being useless. A single unresealable (if that's a term) can - no matter WHAT size - should be the serving size for that packaged product, in my opinion.

                                Everything you said is reasonable and logical, as are all of your posts (at least the ones with which I agree ;-)

                        3. I so wanted to like this product but alas after trying several found them to be on the greasy side.

                          They are now also available at Shoprite in Brooklyn.

                          7 Replies
                          1. re: Himishgal

                            Luck Chen is not only greasy but is not worth the high price. I'll stick with my heimish
                            no frills luckshen.

                            1. re: sima

                              I don't consider $1.99 for a rather large bowl of noodle soup to be a high price, especially considering the expensive packaging and convenience of not having to refrigerate or freeze the product.

                              I also find the noodles way too oily, though tasty. The way I prepare the dish: I simply rip up the plastic pouches, dump everything into the plastic bowl, fill the bowl to the top with hot water (ignoring the package instructions), and enjoy the soup with the enclosed plastic fork [putting bowl to mouth in polite company, using a plastic spoon (not provided) if alone].

                              1. re: midasgold

                                I had just purchased it at Shoprite for $3.49. I have never seen it for less than
                                $3.00. Price is not justified for what it has to offer.

                                1. re: sima

                                  I always wonder if anyone who says something like this is overpriced ever pays a dollar or more for a bottle of water, or $3.00 or so for a Starbucks' coffee.

                                  1. re: sima

                                    As I said previously, Sima, I purchased 4 out of 5 flavors at Brach's kosher supermarket in the "Five Towns" area on Long Island, NY, 10 minutes from JFK airport (7 minutes if I'm the driver) for $1.99 each.

                                    $3.49 is a far cry from $1.99 per adult serving.

                                    1. re: sima

                                      I bought them at Raskin's fruit shop in Crown Heights for $1.99. Today I saw them at Shoprite for nearly double that. The difference is really significant.

                                2. re: Himishgal

                                  Yes, at nearly double the price.

                                3. I wonder how much sodium is in a package. My experience is that the amount of sodium in similar products is inordinately high.

                                  4 Replies
                                  1. re: skipper

                                    The sodium listed on the one I have in my cabinet right now seems suspiciously low. It says 183mg for the 1/2 bowl serving, making the whole bowl (likely what one will eat) a total of 366mg. However, I am very suspicious of the accuracy of that, because the same package claims to have 11 grams of fiber per serving, 22 grams for the whole bowl. I cannot imagine where those fiber grams could possibly come from. The noodles are not whole grain, and the veggies are a tiny packet weighing no more than a few grams; they don't even weigh 22 grams, let alone have that much fiber. I don't have any other packages right now, but I seem to recall the fiber being listed as far lower on one of the other flavors. TV news stories have often questioned the validity of the nutrition facts on many products. I think I once heard a statistic that labels were wrong at least 10% of the time. Sometimes this is easy to check, by multiplying the grams of fat, carbs, and protein by the standard number of calories per gram for each of these (4 for carbs and protein, 9 for fat). But for sodium, there is no easy cross-check.

                                    1. re: queenscook

                                      In Manhattan, I have found them from time to time in Jack's Dollar Stores. I took one to a Gristedes to try to get the manager to stock them.

                                      1. re: Dovid

                                        Where is Jack's Dollar store?