Japan’s new Apple Pie Yakisoba is receiving mixed reviews, but perhaps all it needs is a little something extra.
When Peyoung’s “Yakisoba Apple Pie Taste” hit the shelves this year, it became its own small phenomenon. Not only is the packaging significantly more eye-catching than your average pack of instant noodles, but… apple pie fried noodles? Japanese shoppers were immediately overwhelmed with the delicious potential of mixing these two flavor profiles, but also, apprehension. Reviews flooded in, even from Japankuru’s very own Thai editor, Pin.
In the end, many of the reviews were middling at best. The noodles, it seemed, were kind of bland and unimpressive. YouTubers took one bite and declared “ew I hate it.” I’d been wanting to try these odd noodles, but things weren’t looking great in the taste department.
And then I took another look at Pin’s review of the noodles, and one thing caught my eye. One of the issues that people had noted, with apple pie yakisoba, is that the sweet-and-salty balance was a little odd. So Pin suggested that you could actually improve the flavor by adding soy sauce to the mix.
I was intrigued. If Pin thought the noodles were better with a little soy sauce, what other changes could be made to these infamous instant noodles? I began to plan an experiment.
Step one: prepare my very own package of Peyoung Yakisoba Apple Pie Taste, as instructed by the label. The process was simple, and within minutes I had my noodles cooked and ready to go. First, of course, I wanted to taste them plain. Maybe everyone was wrong, and these noodles are already perfect!?
But no… they basically tasted like someone had poured apple pie perfume on some instant noodles. The yakisoba smelled like lovely apples and cinnamon, but the flavor was weak and instead of creating the sweet-and-salty snack of my dreams, it just tasted like disappointment. So I proceeded to the next step of my experiment.
Step two: sauce it up. Pin suggested soy sauce, so I decided to take it a step further, and try my apple pie yakisoba topped with four different sauces. I chose, from left to right, soy sauce, Korean Buldak “Hot Chicken Flavor Sauce” (this is what goes on the noodles in those spicy noodle challenge videos), yakiniku bbq dipping sauce, and (a gift to my inner child) ketchup.
I divided up little portions of the noodles to sample with each sauce, and then went right ahead and mixed them up.
First, I tried Pin’s recommendation, apple pie yakisoba + soy sauce (left). When I finally took the long-awaited bite, I could understand where Pin was coming from. Since the noodles were initially so lacking, adding a punch of salty soy sauce upped the flavor. But, I didn’t really think it improved the overall experience. The flavors didn’t really meld like I’d hoped; it just tasted like salty noodles with soy sauce and apple pie perfume.
So, on to the next attempt: yakiniku dipping sauce (right)! The first time I went to a yakiniku bbq restaurant in Japan, I fell in love with the dipping sauce, and so it often appears in my own personal kitchen. But could it improve apple pie yakisoba?
No, not really. The downfall of yakiniku sauce is that it’s fairly garlicky (usually a positive!), which clashed with the sweet-cinnamon of apple pie flavoring. For whatever reason, instead of improving the noodles, the apple pie sauce instead brought out a weird artificial taste in the yakiniku sauce.
I moved on to the red sauces, and needing to bring a little joy to the experiment, I started in on the ketchup noodles (left). Ketchup made so many things edible for me as a small child, it had to help these noodles too, right!? But… ketchup is sweet, and while I’d hoped it would add a little intensity to the apple pie flavoring’s sweetness for a new level of dessert-y goodness, it just made the whole thing kind of cloying and sour. Would not recommend.
I made it to my final attempt, feeling a little hopeless, but not quite ready to give up. I’m not normally much of a spicy-food-lover, but Buldak’s spicy noodle sauce is good enough that I have a bottle of it (obviously), and it’s made for instant noodles like this, too! A few glugs of the sauce on top of standard instant noodles makes them mouth-watering. So I mixed a little in with a mouthful of apple pie yakisoba (right). And, well, I think it was probably the best of the bunch. A little sweet, a little spicy. But I found myself thinking it needed a lot more Buldak sauce, at which point I realized “oh, the sauce is good, and I’m just trying to drown out the apple pie flavor.” That seemed to defeat the purpose of the experiment.
So, none of the sauces could truly fix the apple pie yakisoba problem… but I didn’t want to accept such a brutal defeat! Is Peyoung’s Yakisoba Apple Pie Taste really so far gone as to be unredeemable!? I added a shake of extra salt to the remaining apple pie yakisoba, and…
Well, I decided that this was probably the best way to enjoy them. In the end, I just wouldn’t really recommend the apple pie noodles in the first place. Sorry, Pin, even your ingenious soy sauce hack couldn’t save them!
But it was certainly an interesting experiment. If you are also interested in contributing to science and advancing our understanding of strange instant noodle experimentation, please try your own recipes and let me know how they turn out! I only tested four sauces, so perhaps I just missed out on the true winning combination. Let me know (and keep an eye out for more articles about Japan) on the Japankuru twitter, instagram, and facebook!