Cao is Starving - Chongqing Spicy and Braised Chicken Flavours of Noodles

The T & T supermarket chain had these Cao is Starving Chinese noodle bowls on sale some time ago.  Two for one deal!  These noodle bowls looked pretty interesting so I'm trying these out for the first time.  I'm often leery of noodles from the PRC as they can be overly spicy or vinegary depending on what you are getting.  I'm happy to say that the Cao bowls I tried didn't fall in these categories.

The Cao is Starving bowls are a lot like the yakisoba style noodle bowls you can get where you add boiling water to rehydrate/heat the noodles then drain all of the water off.  Both came in flattened square containers and used fresh noodles that just need to be reheated in some boiling water.  I'm always a little amazed that they can pack wet noodles this way, but this method is commonly used for udon noodles too - so the preservation method it has to be some combination of controlling moisture content and in-bag canning.  Being fresh noodles, they will have a better chew/bite since frying/drying will not change their consistency.  There will also be a reduced fat content in these noodles, other than what the sauce adds, since they are not fried.

Cao is Starving - Chongqing Spicy Noodle

I don't know much about the Chongqing style of spicy noodle so I had to look it up on the internet.  According to Wikipedia and a couple of other sites these little noodles or xiao mian ( 重庆小面 ) are supposed to be spicy, aromatic and have a mouth numbing heat. Chongqing noodles are from Chongqing (no surprise there) and are a popular and affordable street food that is a traditional breakfast dish.  Talk about having your breakfast wake you up real good.

Xiao mian noodles are typically prepared using wheat. There are two main types of xiao mian dishes: noodles with soup and noodles without soup. Chongqing noodle dishes are typically spicy and prepared using a variety of spices, seasonings and sauces. Sichuan pepper is often used in the dish's preparation. Myriad meats and vegetables are also used in its preparation. Various garnishes and condiments are also used, such as spring onions and chili oil.

3/4 view of the Chongqing Spicy noodle package.  It has a nice green background and shows off a very spicy looking bowl of noodles with a big dollop of ground meat, peppers, and green onions on top.

Top view shows a starving Cao who can't wait to dig into the noodles.  The plain green / black design is actually pretty striking and the big bowl of noodles balances off the figure of Cao nicely.  I think using green to represent this noodle flavour seems to go with the type of spiciness for some reason.

Bottom of the package / boxy bowl.  It is transparent and it has the nutritional, manufacturing, and ingredients on it.

Cooking directions on the side. Tear open the noodle bag, add the noodles and seasonings into the bowl, heat in the microwave for 60 seconds, and then stir everything together and enjoy.  I used boiling water to heat the noodles, drained the excess water, then mixed everything together.

Nice bright orange lit with drain holes in the top.  I used those holes to drain the water out.

The final product, all sauces and ingredients mixed together.

There was a slight spicy, savoury aroma to the dish. The noodles came out quite nicely, with a firm texture and a pretty good chew.  The sauce coated the noodles well.  It was quite tasty, not super spicy, just spicy, and you could tell there was chili and Szechuan peppercorn in it.  Fairly good overall, but it is missing garnishes as there were mainly lots of little sesame seeds.  Lots of green onions and dehydrated peppers would have been a nice addition.  I liked this one more than the braised chicken flavour it turns out and I'd pick one of these up again if I saw it.

Closeup of the noodles.


Cao is Starving Braised Chicken Noodles

The braised chicken flavour noodles of Cao is Starving was a flavour that I was more familiar with.  Chinese BBQ has a sweet and savoury note to it that isn't unusual to find.  I actually thought I would like this flavour more than the Chongqing Spicy, but it didn't turn out that way in the end.

3/4 view of the flattened square bowl.  The design is very similar to the Chongqing Spicy aside from the fact that the color is orange and it shows a chicken noodle bowl.

The top of the noodle box.  The nice orange background kind of makes you think of BBQ and the noodle bowl shown is just over the top in terms of toppings.  You don't really get that chicken shown on the inside, but that is what it could be if you added your own garnish!

The bottom of the box showing ingredients, nutritional information, and manufacturing information.

Preparation instructions.  Same as what was shown in the last noodle bowl.

You get a dried ingredients satchet, a couple of sauce packets, a fork, and a package of noodles.

The fresh noodle block.

The noodle block after I heated it up and loosened it.

The sauces and dried ingredients added to the noodles.

Everything all mixed together.

The finished noodles had a nice BBQ aroma to them. It was a sweet soy and braised chicken smell.  The noodles had good texture and chew again, and there were plenty of sesame seeds.  There was a mild vinegary note to the sauce which help to offset any richness, but this isn't my favourite kind of sauce usually, but a lot of people quite like this.  It was a tasty dish, but I actually would prefer the Chongqing Spicy other this.  Again, more garnishes to these noodles would have been nice.

Noodle closeup.  The sauce coats the noodles well.

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