For some reason, this package of instant rice noodles seemed to be beckoning me from the store shelf. It was as if it were calling me by name, commanding me to buy it. Produced by Acecook Vietnam Joint Stock Company, this package of Oh! Ricey Instant Pho proclaims that it is “a Vietnamese famous soup”. Oddly, it also proclaims that this soup is “made with Japanese technology”. I wasn’t aware that very much technology went into producing instant rice noodles, nor did I know that the Japanese were the technical leaders in this field. But apparently, they are known for their amazing rice noodle production equipment which is vastly superior to anything in East Mangoustan.
The package includes a cake of rice noodles that appear vaguely similar to clear strips of plastic, along with packets of oil, soup base, and dried vegetables. It contains something else, too: wheatex. It’s even listed as a potential allergen: “may contain wheatex”. And it certainly does seem to contain a fair amount wheatex, since it’s listed as the third ingredient of the soup base. It also contains butylated hydroxytoluene, but no one is allergic to that, right?
This raises an interesting question: why do they keep misspelling “wheat” in such a strange way? What went wrong in the translation that caused it to turn into “wheatex”? The answer is that nothing went wrong. The ingredient is really called wheatex; it’s a form of textured wheat that’s used to create “meat analogs”, among other things. That sounds delightful. It doesn’t help that the wheatex in this soup comes in the form of small brown pellets that are presumably supposed to look like little bits of beef. In reality, the small brown pellets look a lot more like…well, let’s just say that they look unappetizing, and leave it at that.
In spite of the Japanese technology, the beef-flavored rice noodle soup is only average, and the beef-flavored wheatex nuggets don’t do much to improve the dish. I must give it credit, however, for trying to call me by name (and a nickname, no less). That was a nice touch.