Monday, 29 July 2013

Cooking & Food: Battle Of The Udon -- Stage 2



Hello Monday!

After Stage 1 of the challenge, I hope it has got easier for you when choosing a dry udon. We have come to Stage 2 of the battle, and this time, instead of 4 udon, I have greedily added 1 more and I will explain the reason later. As for now, just a quick reminder the results from Stage 1,

Results from Stage 1

Stage 1
(Left to Rigth) Menyuraku Sanuki Udon Noodle, ACE Sanuki Udon,
Aoiyume Kobo Udon, Topvalu Udon Noodle Sanuki
Image from Locky's English Playground
Round 1 -- Price
Winner: Topvalu Udon Noodle Sanuki -- HK$4.38/100g

Round 2 -- "Dry length" of udon noodle
Winner: ACE Sanuki Udon  -- 24.4cm

Round 3 -- Cooking time of the udon noodle
Winners: Menyuraku Sanuki Udon Noodle --  8 mins; Aoiyume Kobo Udon -- 8 mins

Round 4 -- The "Stretch" of the udon noodle
Winner: Menyuraku Sanuki Udon Noodle -- (26.5 - 20.4) / 20.4 x 100% = 29.9%

Round 5 -- Edibility! 
Winner: Aoiyume Kobo Udon

Overall "Battle Of The Udon" Stage 1 Winner !
ACE Sanuki Udon

It has to be said, the competition of Stage 1 was very fierce and every contestant has won a round before ACE Sanuki Udon came out as the overall Stage 1 winner, but will Stage 2 be less competitive or will it be another hard fight?

Battle of the five, who will win, and who will lose?
Image from Locky's English Playground
This time round, instead of 4 total contestants, I have found 4 new additions to the battle instead. The reason being, I want to know what happens when ACE udon meets ACE udon, since there are at least 3 ACE udon noodles I can find in Jusco /AEON. Menyuraku also wants to get back on ACE with another type of udon under its brand, so I will give them another chance. New challenger Japan Furusato Sodachi Udon wants to know where it stands in the league and so ...

Ladies and Gentlemen, I hereby present to you, a simple yet scientific "Battle Of The Udon"! A series of udon challenge in which only one of the 5 udon will win and get to move on to the next round.

Without further ado, let's get to know our contestants in ...

Round 1 :  Price-Per-100g!


ACE Sanuki Udon
Image from Locky's English Playground

ACE Japanese Udon (Hand-made Style)
Image from Locky's English Playground

ACE Shikoku Sanuki Udon
Image from Locky's English Playground

Menyuraku Sanuki Zaru Udon Noodle
Image from Locky's English Playground

Japan Furusato Sodachi Udon
Image from Locky's English Playground



I really had some struggle here since all the udon are having discounts, which means, they are not at their usual price, but after I found out that our Stage 1 Winner is actually selling at the same price as before even though it claimed to be on discount, I decided that "discount" for these udon may just be lies anyway. Since they are all having "discounts", I decided to use the actual prices for this round of competition.

In Stage 2, our four contestants from left to right, all bought from AEON / JUSCO Supermarket, are:
  • ACE Sanuki Udon, 400g, HK$19.9
  • ACE Japanese Udon (Hand-made Style), 400g, HK$14.9
  • ACE Shikoku Sanuki Udon, 1000g, HK$32.9
  • Menyuraku Sanuki Zaru Udon Noodle, 500g, HK$26.9
  • Japan Furusato Sodachi Udon, 400g, HK$16.9
Knowing the size and price are important, but knowing the Price-Per-100g is the key.
  • ACE Sanuki Udon                                    -- HK$4.98/100g
  • ACE Japanese Udon (Hand-made Style) -- HK$3.73/100g
  • ACE Shikoku Sanuki Udon                      -- HK$3.29/100g
  • Menyuraku Sanuki Zaru Udon Noodle    -- HK$5.38/100g
  • Japan Furusato Sodachi Udon                -- HK$4.23/100g
And what do you know, the bigger is really cheaper in this particular case, at 1000g, ACE Shikoku Sanuki Udon beats 2nd place brother ACE Japanese Udon (Hand-made Style) by a whole HK$0.44!!! Our Stage 1 Winner turns out to be the 2nd most expensive udon after Menyuraku Sanuki Zaru Udon Noodle!
ACE Shikoku Sanuki Udon -- Winner of Price-Per-100g
Image from Locky's English Playground
Congratulations to ACE Shikoku Sanuki Udon for grabbing the first win in Round 1!


Looks like we will have a great battle today!

Oh no! They are not of the same thickness! What should I do?
Image from Locky's English Playground

Round 2: The "dry length" of udon noodle.

Like last time, we will use the "dry length" as a control, but this time round I realised that they are not of the same thickness. Should I change the entire round because of this variable or should I use a micro-tool to measure the differences?

After much thinking, I decided that I will let thickness to be judged in Round 5 Edibility. Since it affects the texture more than the "Stretch".

Also, although of different thickness, "Stretch" in Round 4 is not calculated using thickness anyway, so this wouldn't affect our grading system.

Here are the measurements:
ACE Sanuki Udon -- 24.7cm
Image from Locky's English Playground
ACE Japanese Udon (Hand-made Style) -- 24.5cm
Image from Locky's English Playground
ACE Shikoku Sanuki Udon -- 21.5cm
Image from Locky's English Playground
Menyuraku Sanuki Zaru Udon Noodle -- 20.2cm
Image from Locky's English Playground
ACE Sanuki Udon -- 23.5cm
Image from Locky's English Playground
After measuring, the results are:
  • ACE Sanuki Udon                                    -- 24.7cm
  • ACE Japanese Udon (Hand-made Style) -- 24.5cm
  • ACE Shikoku Sanuki Udon                      -- 21.5cm
  • Menyuraku Sanuki Zaru Udon Noodle    -- 20.2cm
  • Japan Furusato Sodachi Udon                -- 23.5cm
Looks like this time round, the big pack isn't doing so good, but ACE Sanuki Udon went on to claim the longest in "dry-length" award once more! It's orange ACE Japanese Udon (Hand-made Style) twin came very close and I have a feeling that they might in fact be of the same length on average, and because of this suspicion, I went to do an eye-level check and found that they are almost of exactly the same length overall.

Therefore, I am awarding both ACE Sanuki Udon and ACE Japanese Udon (Hand-made Style) to be the deserved Round 2 winner!

Congratulations to ACE Sanuki Udon and ACE Japanese Udon (Hand-made Style) for winning Round 2!
Final 10 secs
Image from Locky's English Playground


Round 3: Cooking time of the udon noodle

This contributes to the amount of water absorption and thus affecting the elasticity, the bite, the taste of the udon and also ... the price you pay for gas.

Same as the last stage, I decided to use the recommended time of cooking, taking the lower limit if a range is given, to allow each udon achieve optimal length, elasticity, bite and taste.
(Left to Right) ACE Sanuki Udon -- 10 mins, ACE Japanese Udon (Hand-made Style) -- 7 mins,
ACE Shikoku Sanuki Udon -- 10 mins
Image from Locky's English Playground
The ACE family, ACE Sanuki Udon ACE Japanese Udon  (Hand-made Style) and ACE Shikoku Sanuki Udon will be given a lower limit of 10 mins, 7 mins and 10 mins respectively.
(Left to Right) Menyuraku Sanuki Zaru Udon Noodle -- 6 mins
Japan Furusato Sodachi Udon -- 8 mins
Image from Locky's English Playground

While  Menyuraku Sanuki Zaru Udon Noodle and Japan Furusato Sodachi Udon will be given 6 mins and 8 mins respectively.

All together, the result is as follows:
  • ACE Sanuki Udon                                    -- 10 mins
  • ACE Japanese Udon (Hand-made Style) --  7 mins
  • ACE Shikoku Sanuki Udon                      -- 10 mins
  • Menyuraku Sanuki Zaru Udon Noodle    -- 6 mins
  • Japan Furusato Sodachi Udon                -- 8 mins
Taking the cost of gas into account, the Menyuraku brand once again claimed the shortest recommended cooking time title with its Menyuraku Sanuki Zaru Udon Noodle again due to its shortest "dry-length", ACE Sanuki Udon again have the longest dry length. But unlike the Stage 1,the longer the udon doesn't necessarily mean that it takes the longest cooking time as ACE Japanese Udon (Hand-made Style) requires only 7 mins.

Could thickness be the reason? Or the ingredients? It's almost impossible to tell. What we can tell is, although Menyuraku Sanuki Zaru Udon Noodle requires the least cooking time, it is also HK$2.09 more expensive than a 10-min ACE Shikoku Sanuki Udon and HK$0.40 costlier than a 10-min ACE Sanuki Udon per-100g.

Congratulations to Menyuraku Sanuki Zaru Udon Noodle for winning Round 3!

But I'm guessing 4 minutes of gas on a stove need not cost as much as HK$0.40 or HK$2.09.


Round 4 of the battle is the "Stretch" of the udon noodle


Boiled and Chilled
Image from Locky's English Playground

The stretch is measured by the cooked length minus the dry length, divide by the dry length multiply by 100%

Stretch = (cooked length - dry length) / dry length x 100%

Using the recommended time in Round 3 to cook each udon and removing them from the hot water at approximately the last second with the help of the timer on my stove, then placing the udon into cold water for about 1 minute before placing them onto a black tray to compare the length, ladies and gentlemen, I present to you...

The stretch of udon
Image from Locky's English Playground
... the stretch of each udon!!! This time, with close-ups photos.


ACE Sanuki Udon -- 30.7cm
Image from Locky's English Playground
ACE Sanuki Udon -- 30.7cm
Image from Locky's English Playground
ACE Japanese Udon (Hand-made Style) -- 30.2cm
Image from Locky's English Playground
ACE Japanese Udon (Hand-made Style) -- 30.2cm
Image from Locky's English Playground
ACE Shikoku Sanuki Udon -- 26.0cm
Image from Locky's English Playground
ACE Shikoku Sanuki Udon -- 26.0cm
Image from Locky's English Playground
Menyuraku Sanuki Zaru Udon Noodle -- 25.8cm
Image from Locky's English Playground
Menyuraku Sanuki Zaru Udon Noodle -- 25.8cm
Image from Locky's English Playground
Japan Furusato Sodachi Udon  -- 29.8cm
Image from Locky's English Playground
Japan Furusato Sodachi Udon  -- 29.8cm
Image from Locky's English Playground

All together, the result is as follows:
  • ACE Sanuki Udon                                    --  (30.7 - 24.7) / 24.7 x 100% = 24.3%
  • ACE Japanese Udon (Hand-made Style) --  (30.2 - 24.5) / 24.5 x 100% = 23.3%
  • ACE Shikoku Sanuki Udon                      --  (26.0 - 21.5) / 21.5 x 100% = 20.9%
  • Menyuraku Sanuki Zaru Udon Noodle    --  (25.8 - 20.2) / 20.2 x 100% = 27.7%
  • Japan Furusato Sodachi Udon                --  (29.8 - 23.5) / 23.5 x 100% = 26.8%
From the percentage, we can see that just like the last stage, the Menyuraku brand continues to beat others in terms of "stretch". Sanuki Zaru Udon Noodle has 27.7% of stretch, close to its previous record of 29.9% set by its Sanuki Udon Noodle.

Japan Furusato Sodachi Udon came close with a 26.8% stretch but was beaten by a nose distance. So...

Congratulations to Menyuraku Sanuki Zaru Udon Noodle for winning Round 4!


Round 5, the final round of the battle, is Edibility! 

Now, I must admit that I do fear that I will lean towards the Winner of Stage 1, so this time, I asked my wife to be the main judge in this Stage so her comments carry double more weight than mine. Each noodle is cut into two parts and each of us will taste half with a sip of water in between each tasting. The difference is, I know which udon noodle is to which brand but this information is hidden from her so she is single-blinded. The whole process was recorded and typed out by me right now.

Ready for her comments?
  • ACE Sanuki Udon -- very chewy, floury taste, taste best!
  • ACE Japanese Udon (Hand-made Style) -- thinner than the first udon, very hard, chewy but not as good as the first
  • ACE Shikoku Sanuki Udon -- not as chewy as the first one, not much taste, so far the first one is the best
  • Menyuraku Sanuki Zaru Udon Noodle -- also chewy, super sticky, wheaty taste
  • Japan Furusato Sodachi Udon -- too thin, prefer a thicker texture, not much taste
My comments are as follow:
  • ACE Sanuki Udon -- smooth, very chewy, recoils on breaking
  • ACE Japanese Udon (Hand-made Style) -- thinner, chewy, tougher than the first, rounded body
  • ACE Shikoku Sanuki Udon -- chewy, melts in the hand and mouth
  • Menyuraku Sanuki Zaru Udon Noodle -- very easy to break, sticky, stronger taste, tofu taste
  • Japan Furusato Sodachi Udon -- thinner, too slippery, not much taste
And I think you know my wife's pick, but here's the ranking she offered me:

  1. ACE Sanuki Udon
  2. Menyuraku Sanuki Zaru Udon
  3. The rest 
Aoiyume Kobo Udon -- Winner of edibility
Image from Locky's English Playground

Congratulations to ACE Sanuki Udon for winning Round 5! 

After the test, I think it is very important that my wife offers her help so that we can be the most objective while subjectively picking out the winner of Round 5 Edibility.

Now it's time to pick the Stage 2 winner! Will ACE Sanuki Udon prevail? Or will it be replaced?

Before I reveal the answer, let me do a quick summary of our current winners.
  • Menyuraku Sanuki Zaru Udon Noodle -- Winner of Stretch
  • ACE Sanuki Udon and ACE Japanese Udon (Hand-made Style) --  Winner of Dry Length
  • ACE Sanuki Udon -- Winner of Edibility
  • ACE Shikoku Sanuki Udon -- Winner of Price-Per-100g
Seems like it's a battle of the ACE family and Menyuraku, but is that really the case?

(Left to Rigth) ACE Sanuki Udon, ACE Japanese Udon (Hand-made Style), ACE Shikoku Sanuki Udon, Menyuraku Sanuki Zaru Udon Noodle, Japan Furusato Sodachi Udon
Image from Locky's English Playground

To be honest, the price of the Nature-crossovers-Recipe-packaged ACE Shikoku Sanuki Udon is hard to beat, at HK$3.29/100g this family pack udon gave major embarrassment to Topvalu Udon Noodle Sanuki (at HK$4.38/100g), the cheapest of Stage 1. Although it didn't win any positive comments from my wife, it does level with ACE Japanese Udon (Hand-made Style) (at HK$3.73/100g) and Japan Furusato Sodachi Udon (at HK$4.23/100g). Not too shabby! If I were to get good feeling when shopping, I will definitely go for ACE Shikoku Sanuki Udon , and it's Sayonara (goodbye) to Topvalu Udon Noodle Sanuki. I mean, come on! This is record low price we are talking about!

Orangey white-river-packaged ACE Japanese Udon (Hand-made Style) (at HK$3.73/100g) is the best if you want a rounded-body udon. Although some might say "if you want rounded-body then go for pure noodles", I think otherwise. A rounded-body udon simply offers more choices and varieties for consumers. Being the second cheapest ever in our competition.

Same goes for our new challenger Japan Furusato Sodachi Udon (at HK$4.23/100g). It is strong as a thin option, and still cheaper than Stage 1 cheap king Topvalu Udon Noodle Sanuki (at HK$4.38/100g). By the way, is that Mount Fuji in the packet?

That leaves Menyuraku Sanuki Zaru Udon Noodle and ACE Sanuki Udon.

Same as Stage 1, Menyuraku Sanuki Zaru Udon Noodle (HK$5.38/100g) has the longest stretch, a more artistic packet than its brother in Stage 1 Menyuraku Sanuki Udon Noodle (HK$5.15/100g), but is that worth another HK$0.23/100g just for the design? Looking back at Stage 1, I remember that the udon actually had much better textures, but why is this time for a more expensive price I paid I get much more sticky udon that breaks easily? Better taste, maybe, but not good enough to cover the stickiness issue. The company will have to find a way to fix this to justify their prices.

Finally, our Stage 2 Winner!!!

ACE Sanuki Udon -- Winner of Stage 2
Image from Locky's English Playground
Both my wife and I picked ACE Sanuki Udon as the Winner of Stage 2!!! That's two wins in a row!!!

From relatively low price in Stage 1 to relatively expensive in Stage 2 at HK$4.98 / 100g, ACE Sanuki Udon's 10-min relatively "long" cooking time still offers that unforgettable recoil on breaking even when cut into half! It is an edible rubber band and it's incredibly fun to play with! It's non-stickiness really helps it to top the rest of the udon. It has the thickness that defines an udon, making the entire eating experience enjoyable.

I'm starting to think that it's medium "stretch" may be the key to its elasticity. Let's think about it, too little "stretch" means it's not taking in enough water, too much means it takes in too much water causing the udon noodle to break easily or melt, giving that stickiness.

If this is true then shortening the time of those sticky udons might improve the situation, but that is a duty of the companies when it comes to recommended cooking time.

So...

Congratulations to ACE Sanuki Udon 讃岐うどん for becoming Locky's English Playground, "Battle Of The Udon" Stage 2 Winner !


Please leave a comment if you like this post and would like to see how ACE Sanuki Udon goes head to head against other new udon in Stage 3!

Time for lunch!

For more tips on cooking and food, check out the links below:
http://lockyep.blogspot.hk/search/label/Cooking

http://lockyep.blogspot.hk/search/label/Food


Vocabulary:
get back on sb -- phrasal verb to talk to someone again, usually on the telephone , in order to give them some information or because you were not able to speak to them before
Without further ado -- Cliché without further talk. (An overworked phrase usually heard in public announcements.)
costlier -- (adj) more costly
single-blinded -- (adj) of, relating to, or being an experimental procedure in which the experimenters but not the subjects know the makeup of the test and control groups during the actual course of the experiments
Not too shabby / not so shabby -- slang used for saying that something is good


Resources:
Battle of the 5 Udon -- Part 2 @ YouTube
http://youtu.be/62wPX_oR1zg

Cooking & Food: Battle Of The Udon -- Stage 1 @ Locky's English Playground
http://lockyep.blogspot.hk/2013/07/cooking-food-battle-of-4-udon-stage-1.html

Cooking @ Locky's English Playground
http://lockyep.blogspot.hk/search/label/Cooking

Food @ Locky's English Playground
http://lockyep.blogspot.hk/search/label/Food

http://dictionary.cambridge.org/dictionary/english-chinese-traditional/get-back-to-sb?q=get+back+to+sb
http://idioms.thefreedictionary.com/without+further+ado
http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/single-blind
http://dictionary.cambridge.org/dictionary/english-chinese-traditional/not-so-shabby-not-too-shabby



No comments:

Post a comment