Today was product review day. Tasty Bite, an Indian food company, had sent me a box of 6 of their kosher shelf stable heat-and-eat entrees and sides for evaluation. And by me, I mean me and Marc, aka theYoungerSon.
In case I hadn't mentioned it in an earlier post, Marc is a well-respected movie critic for HBO Watch and I Heard In. He is also a young adult who can still eat like growing teenager, which is akin to a starving linebacker at an all-you-can-eat buffet. Drawing upon his many years of experience in this particular area, he has graciously volunteered to help me evaluate the Tasty Bite samples provided.
Before we get to Marc's review, I just want to say that I tried the Channa Masala, just because I liked the name (sort of like how I first tried chai tea solely for the name ... but I digress). Channa Masala is (are?) chickpeas cooked with onions, tomatoes and spices. The taste surprised me since, truthfully, I really didn't expect much. After all, shelf-stable anything sounds like a Twinkie, but with less flavor. Here, the chickpeas were not mushy at all, in fact they were quite similar in consistency as the canned variety ... creamy while retaining their shape. The spices were just a slight bump in the Scoville scale, so even if you get hot flashes from ketchup, you'll still be able to tolerate them. The Channa Masala is not as good as fresh from the local Indian restaurant, but good enough to serve your family without shame.
Anyway, here is Marc's critique:
You might be wondering why I’m not reviewing my Mother’s actual cooking for my first time here, and the answer would be, “because I enjoy having a roof over my head.”
|Kung Pao. Note the baby corn pieces, among other bits.|
So I had some instant kung pao noodles instead. It’s vegan as well, if ever there was a winning combination as microwavable, Chinese, and vegan. But lo, I sleep soundly for another night. So how was it? Well, it’s instant noodles that aren’t in a cup of cheap broth, expectations won’t be too high at the start.
The label says it can fully cook in sixty seconds. So I plopped it in a bowl and set the microwave for the sixty seconds the label said I should. When I took it out of the microwave it was fully cooked. Off to a good start. First bite: Okay this is just spaghetti in a brown sauce with various vegetable components. A bit on the cheap side, but it doesn’t seem like there’s anything nefarious going on in the ingredients listing so it seems to be hitting a fairly average mark on all fronts. Nothing tastes too overcooked. And it’s simple enough to market as vegan because there’s nothing they put in it that can come in any other form, unless the noodles were made with eggs, and there’s so much sauce soaked into the noodles that you wouldn’t be able to tell otherwise. Really, what this comes down to is “how does that brown sauce taste?” And the answer is good! In the same way that top ramen tastes good. You aren’t comparing it to a dish at a restaurant your comparing it with deciding to not eat and whether or not it was a good idea to try. I wasn’t all that hungry and I still finished my plate completely.
I’m not a vegan, but from what I can judge of the vegan food I’ve tried, it wouldn’t really matter what the recommendation I give was because there is a considerable difference in palate between us. The question is whether or not this would be good for people who aren’t vegan. People you theoretically invite into your house for dinner, but you realize they might not like the way you cook things. Could you sneak this onto their plate, prevent yourself from killing an animal, and impress them with a delightful taste of oriental flavor all while masquerading as someone who doesn’t prep food from a bag for guests ala “Mrs. Doubtfire?” Yes. Should you? I mean, personally that just seems too complicated to be able to pull off, especially with the amount of privacy you’d need to disguise your inability to actually cook. But that’s just me.
For my final verdict, I’d say these are worth getting if you find yourself passing them in a supermarket and you know you’re going to have a few of those nights ahead where you just don’t have the energy to make a soufflé.
P.S. Tried the thai lime rice. Tasted like old soap. Or like a bar of soap was shaved down to look like a plate of rice. I don’t know who thought it would be a good idea to make a bar of soap into a plate of rice, but here we are. This is the world we live in now.
*Disclaimer: I received these products from Tasty Bite, at no cost to me, for the purpose of review. I did not receive monetary compensation. As always, all opinions provided are my own. Or, in this case, my son's.
All the products we tested are kosher and vegetarian, although most if not all are produced in facilities that also process nuts, dairy, wheat and soy.